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#27551 - 07/21/03 06:21 AM HPS starter help?
Redsy Offline

Registered: 03/28/01
Posts: 2138
Loc: Bucks County PA
How does one test a starting aid for a HPS fixture?
Continuity? Capacitance? What does the internals look like?
I found some info by a search, but no internal diagram of the starter.

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#27552 - 07/21/03 08:48 AM Re: HPS starter help?
rmiell Offline

Registered: 11/09/00
Posts: 261
Loc: La Junta, Co. USA
I downloaded a nice manual from Advance Transformer Co. There is a troubleshooting section in it. Pretty good info. Here's what it says for HPS ignitors.
"Ignitors are used as a starting aid with all high pressure sodium and certain low-wattage metal halide lamps.

Measurement of the starting pulse voltage of an ignitor is beyond the capability of most instruments available in the field. In laboratory tests, an oscilloscope is used to measure pulse height and width. In the field, some simple tests may be performed to determine if the ignitor is operable:

1: Replace the ignitor with another ignitor which is known to be operable. If the lamp then starts, the previous ignitor was either miswired or inoperable.

2: Remove the High Pressure sodium lamp and replace it with a known operable HPS lamp of proper wattage. If the lamp lights, ignitor is operating properly.

3. If lamp does not light, disconnect ignitor and proceed as follows:
A. 35W to 150W (55V) HPS
Insert 120V incandescent lamp in socket. If lamp lights, ignitor requires replacement.
B. 150W (100V) to 400W HPS
Install mecury lamp of comparable wattage. If mecury lamp starts, ignitor requires replacement.
C. 1000W
replace ignitor
NOTE: Ignitors are not interchangeable. REfer to ballast label for designation of proper ignitor to be used with ballast."

"Copywrite Advance Transformer Co."

The previous was found in the Pocket Guide to High Intensity Discharge Lamps Ballasts, by Advance Transformer Co.

Rick Miell

#27553 - 07/22/03 10:33 PM Re: HPS starter help?
Scott35 Offline

Broom Pusher and

Registered: 10/19/00
Posts: 2724
Loc: Anaheim, CA. USA

I drew up a Schematic for the typical HV Pulse Ignitor, but must have never posted it on line!
It consists of an array of Voltage Doubling Diode Matrices, set up in multiple tank circuit formations (RC Charging Circuits).

The pulses typically peak out around 2500 Volts, with a quick duration of maybe 10 ms. Current is in a fat level (possibly as high as 500ma - upto 1500ma), so the complete pulse is a short high Joule event.
Pulse is only required to jump current between the Cathodes within the arc tube. Pulse Amplitude (Voltage and Current) is a result of the Impedance which is connected to it - higher Z results in higher Amplitudes. Once the arc tube has an established plasma, the lamp becomes very low Z (actually negative R), so the ignitor produces very tiny pulses.

Input to the ignitor is regulated by the Ballast (of course), so the ignitor (may) need some method of current Ballasting to prevent overcurrent draw (not sure if this would apply to bench testing, but make sure first!).

To test one, either perform the routines given by Rick's post (best method overall! Thanks, Rick!), or bench test using a High Voltage type meter with a regulated current output power supply.

You will need to view the data on a scope, unless you have a HV sample and hold feature for current and voltage.

Look for pulse width, Amplitude and frequency. Pulses should be almost on top of each other - close to 100 Hz or higher. Current and voltage amplitudes should be near constant levels for at least 5 minutes. Excessive harmonic distortion would indicate too much resonance within the tank matrix, leaning towards failing ignitor.
Harmonic distortion will (should) be even overall, and result in the pulses having jagged steps with wavy edges (???).
Residual stuff from charge and discharge time constants will cause sequential steps in the pulse, and internal resonance will distort the complete pulse envelope.

Anyhow, if you are able to see high peaks (>2KV and >500ma) consistantly, the ignitor is useable. Need to push these pulses into something with an extremely high Z - like a CRT or a brand new HPS lamp.

Good luck!

p.s. the most effective and productive HV pulse ignitor tests are as Rick (Rmeill) explained. Try swapping with known operable ignitor across known operable lamp. Test Ballast OCV using volt meter or "Wing It" with alternate lamp types (Incandescent or H33).

Contact me here or directly if you have further / indepth questions.

Scott " 35 " Thompson
Just Say NO To Green Eggs And Ham!


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