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Reinventing Edison: Build your own Light Bulb FAQ and Troubleshooting Tips
Reinventing Edison: Build your own Light Bulb is a science kit designed for use in schools, home schools, by science fair participants, and by hobbyists. The included 28 page instruction manual contains detailed experiment instructions that include troubleshooting tips and explanations for how the kit works and how to fix a few common problems and avoid a few common mistakes. This document contains a list of frequently asked questions about the kits as well as a set of troubleshooting tips that may help you fix any problems you are having with the kit. (much of this information is also covered in the instruction manual) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Q: Where can I purchase this kit or other Reinventing Science Kits? A: Reinventing Science kits are sold through catalogs and stores that sell science educational products, hobby products, and science toys. A list of dealers can be found on our website and on our face book fan page. We update the list as we add new dealers but some of our best sellers include (in Alphabetical Order) The All American Boy Adventure Catalog (by The Vision Forum) Edmund Scientific Educational Innovations Science Kit/Boreal Labs If you don't see your favorite store or catalog on this list, then ask your store to become a reseller, we are looking for new dealers all the time! Q: How can I troubleshoot problems with this kit? A: Each kit contains detailed instructions in its experiment guide. The instructions contain troubleshooting tips and information about the most common mistakes or problems. In addition we also have more troubleshooting tips posted on our website and in this document (see Troubleshooting below) Q: What is included with this kit? A: You can learn about each kit by going to our website and looking at its product page. You can also view this document: http://www.scribd.com/doc/17782720/Reinventing-Edison-Science-Kit-Info This kit includes: Safety Vacuum Chamber, Hand Vacuum Pump (with spare pump syringe), filament materials including steel, brass, nichrome, copper, tungsten and carbon, test leads, 28 page full color instruction manual. Safety Vacuum Chamber also functions as miniature bell jar.
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Q: What makes this kit unique? A: This is the first science kit available that lets an experimenter build a working light bulb. Don't confuse this kit with other “light bulb” kits that are just simple circuit kits where students wire bulbs together in series or parallel with batteries. This kit also integrates science, technology, and math with concepts of history and invention. Q: Can I use the kit for quantitative experiments? A: Yes this kit works well for quantitative experiments and suggestions and examples are included in the experiment guide. It is possible to measure voltage and current and build a data table. It is also possible to calculate filament resistance. This kit may also be used with data logging or probeware equipment to add computer technology to the experiments. With probeware it is also possible to measure light intensity and heat from the experiments. Q: Can I use the kit in a Science Fair? A: Yes this kit works well as a science fair experiment and instructions and tips for science fair use are included in the instruction manual. Do make sure to talk all science fair plans over with your teacher or the sponsor of the science fair before committing to any experiment. We are very proud that two high school students from California have used this kit to win their school, local, state, and regional science fair. They then went on to place in the Inteltm national science fair! Q: How can I share my data? A: You can share your data in two ways. Firstly detail your experiments including pictures, descriptions, and any data you collect. Then: 1) Post your data to your own blog or social media site such as Face Book (contact us and we'll link to it) 2) Send your data to us and we'll post it to our blog/social media. We also encourage you to video tape your experiments and post the video to a site such as You Tube. Q: How is the classroom set different from the individual kit? A: The individual kit contains all the contents listed above. A classroom set contains 8 individual kits, minus their experiment guides and instead includes a more detailed instructor manual that includes teacher tips. Q: Where can I find more experiments and ideas for my kit? A: Check out the “resources tab” on the product page for the kit. Also keep an eye on our social media.
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Troubleshooting
Our science kits when used under adult supervision, following the directions in the instruction manual are designed to work well the first time, and time and time again in the classroom. However, as with any science experiment you may run into problems or make mistakes that lead to results you don't expect. The following information is meant as a troubleshooting guide that will help you solve many common problems and avoid many common mistakes. Much of this information is also already included in the instruction manual that comes with the kit. If you purchased your science kit through an educational catalog or store they may also be able to help you out if you are experiencing difficulties. We are proud that in the last five years we've had fewer than 10 people referred directly to us with problems with our kits! This information is presented in Problem/Solution format. Please feel free to post questions or comments through our website or our various social media outlets such as our Fan Page on Face Book.

I can't get the bulb to light up? The most common reason for the light bulb kit not working properly is the use of the wrong power source. You should use 6-volt alkaline lantern batteries NOT carbon-zinc batteries. Carbon-zinc (the cheaper batteries) can not supply the high current needed by the filament. (this is detailed in the instruction guide) If you are using the proper batteries and they are wired properly then the next most common reason for bulb failure is lack of a proper vacuum. See “I'm having trouble establishing a vacuum”

The filament only glows red but does not incandesce (Glow brightly like a real light bulb)? The Carbon Filament and the Tungsten Filament should glow brightly. The Nichrome and Iron filaments should only turn a red hot color. Other filament materials may glow slightly or may just get hot or burn through. This is normal and a result of the materials themselves, illustrating the kind of materials choices Edison himself made when trying to find the perfect material. If this is not your problem then please refer to “I can't get the bulb to light up” above.

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The top stopper gets sucked inside the bulb tube how do I fix this? The top stopper on your kit is designed to be sucked inside the bulb tube as a safety measure to avoid any implosion risk should the kit be connected to a pump more powerful than the hand pump included with the kit OR should you pump too much air out with the hand pump. Unfortunately the density of stock natural rubber stoppers varies, and generally new stoppers are softer (and get harder with age). Sometimes therefore the size of the stopper is slightly smaller than ideal and it is easy for the stopper to be pulled inside with normal operation of the pump. To fix this problem you can tighten the two hex nuts that hold the two screws that hold the clamps in place (and are the electrical terminals on the stopper) a little bit AND make sure to push the vacuum release stopper deeply into its hole before pumping air out of the tube. This should expand the rubber stopper enough that it does not pull inside the tube. Alternately you can also place a thick width rubber band that is small enough to only go around the stopper once as a kind of O-ring which will inhibit the stopper from going inside. If the stopper has pulled inside, simply release the vacuum by pulling out the vacuum release. If the stopper can be pulled back out the top of the tube then do so. If it has gone down far enough that this is a problem, remove the bulb tube from the base, remove the pump and wiring from the top stopper, and push the stopper through and out the bottom of the tube. This problem only effects a small number of kits.
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I can't get the pump valve to press into the top stopper? At one point we changed the type of valve used in the air pump on our kits. The original valve had a small diameter tube with no barb. The new valves have a barb. As a result it can be difficult to press the new valve into the top stopper of older kits. This can be fixed by putting some water, glycerin, vacuum grease, or even petroleum jelly onto the valve and pressing it down carefully on a table top. We have since changed the design of our top stopper to drill a shoulder into the valve hole so that its easier to seat. Its important that it be a tight fit in order to be able to establish a vacuum in the bulb. If you are unable to make this work and wish to receive a free replacement please use our contact page on our website in order to contact us and we will make arrangements. (you will be required to return the original stopper to us) You may also be able to make this exchange through the company where you bought your kits. This problem only effects a limited number of kits produced and sold in 2008. All kits manufactured from 2003 to 2007 have the older valves and stoppers and work fine. All kits produced in late 2008 to present have the new top stopper and new valve design and work fine.

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When operated, the pump pops out of the top stopper? If this happens then you have put your pump together backwards OR connected the pump in reverse to the bulb. i.e. air pressure is being pushed inside a closed container and the weakest element is being pushed out. To check, the arrow like cone of the valve should be facing up away from the bulb (meaning air is coming up and out). If you operate the pump with it not connected to the bulb, one pull on the piston of the pump should make the valve stick to your finger, if you feel air pushing out of the valve then you have a backwards pump! Just rebuild your pump and connect properly in order to fix the problem.
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I'm having trouble establishing a vacuum? Make sure that all air-tight connections are air tight and free of debris or obstruction. This includes the seal between the base stopper and the bulb tube, the bulb tube and the top stopper, and the top stopper's four holes (two have screws/electrical terminals, one has the pump, and one has the vacuum release valve). If unsure you can use some vacuum grease or petroleum jelly to help seal each of these ports. The two screws are the least likely to be leaking air. The vacuum release stopper is the most likely to be leaking air. Generally you can track down air leaks by listening for them. If not the you can use some soapy water around a suspected leaky area and if you see bubbles forming, you've found your leak

The pump handle broke while I was using it? (the white syringe) When we first created our kits we noted that under extremely zealous pumping the white syringe used as an air pump would occasionally break after many repeated uses (this is due to friction and heating effects due to the way that this syringe is designed, with a piston slightly larger in diameter than the flexible cylinder body it moves inside). We made a decision to continue using this syringe as a pump because a different kind of pump would not have worked as well to remove air and would have added $5.00 or more to the price of the kit and we are conscious that schools, parents, and hobbyists have limited budgets. To remedy this problem (for schools where the kits are likely to see many repeated uses) we include two syringes with each kit (one as a backup). We also supply a syringe as a material in the refurbishment kit (which also includes new filament materials). You can ensure a longer life for the syringe by doing the following two things: 1) Make sure that users of the kit pump with slow, steady, even strokes and do not over evacuate the vacuum chamber (this is mentioned in the instruction manual) 2) Remove the piston/handle from the syringe and lubricate the syringe's inside with a little bit of petroleum jelly. This lubrication may help ensure that the piston can move a little more freely.

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