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[Shop-talk] Holiday decor... diagnose and repair?

To: Shop Talk <>
Subject: [Shop-talk] Holiday decor... diagnose and repair?
From: Matt Trebelhorn <>
Date: Mon, 3 Dec 2012 06:39:58 -0500
Okay, so last year my wife found these lights at the big orange store  
-- they are about 8" diameter plastic peppermints.  (Some of them run  
alongside the garage/shop, facing the road.)

There are 4 in a set, and they have LEDs inside -- they change color,  
flash, etc. in sync.  They are slightly less obnoxious than they sound.

So there are something like 6 or 8 wires running in parallel along  
the set; each unit has 4 wires going into it (actually I think it's 2  
going in and 2 going out).  Between the wall and light #1 is a box  
about the size of a pack of cigarettes.

So last year lights 3 and 4 on this strand stopped being in sync with  
the others.  They would change, but more slowly.

This year, light #3 is now intermittent.  When it works, it's in  
sync.  Light #4 is still on a slow semi-sync with the others.  It is  
not affected by whether #3 is on or off.

So, I want to try to diagnose and fix light #3, and maybe #4.  Mostly  
just thinking through it at this point.

First thought: open light #3 (the housing is held together with  
screws) and make sure the connections to the strand are good.  Make  
sure nothing looks blown up or otherwise damaged in the circuits  
inside there.

Second: open the cigarette pack and see what is in there.

Okay, so it's not much of a plan.

Other thoughts: it probably uses the 60hz signal to stay in sync with  
other strands; you can daisy-chain them or run them off the same  
switch and they stay synched.  I can't tell yet if the box is a  
controller, or if the individual peppermints have their own  
controllers/flashers built in.  Or both.

Any thoughts on how to figure these things out, or experience in  
dealing with similar little gizmos?

Many thanks.

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