Ice Orchestra Lights Up with LEDs

The ice orchestra in the Swedish town of Luleå

The ice orchestra in the Swedish town of Luleå

We like to talk about applications of LEDs on Clearlysapphire. This might be one of the most unusual applications so far. The remote Swedish town of Luleå, near the Arctic Circle, features an orchestra with instruments made of ice and LEDs. Using an igloo that seats 170 people for an auditorium, the orchestra using ice instruments has been playing music for 15 years in Sweden and around the world.

American ex-patriot Tim Linhart makes each instrument in his back yard each year – from cellos and violas to an ice xylophone, guitars, congas and a banjo – out of ice.  The finely chiseled instruments take about a week each to build, but that’s not the hardest part of the process.  Being made of ice, you need to make sure that the instruments don’t melt when played. They are so fragile that even the heat from a player’s breath will make them out-of-tune.  And, of course, you need to play them in a suitably cold environment, an ice auditorium.

Linhart uses LEDs to light the instruments bringing an otherworldly feel to the concerts.  LEDs are a perfect medium for lighting the fragile instruments because they don’t emit heat along with light.  Traditional lighting would melt the instruments.

You can see the instruments with the LEDs and listen to a performance in this story from CNN.

For Further Reading

CNN, i(ce)-Tunes: Sweden’s incredible ice orchestra, http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/21/travel/swedish-ice-orchestra-2/

Sochi Olympic Venues Light Up with LEDs

The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia begin in just a few weeks on February 7th with the Opening Ceremonies.  The buzz about the Olympics is only just beginning.  This week Clearlysapphire focuses on the lighting for the games. Unlike many Olympic cities, Russia’s Sochi had to start from scratch and build their entire Olympic infrastructure from scratch. This did allow organizers to focus on building green, including installing green lighting using standards developed by the Russian Federation.  In total 200 buildings were built according to these standards, the first applied to construction in Russia, for the Games.

Organizers selected LEDs for lighting several key venues including Fisht Olympic Stadium, Bolshoy Ice Dome, Shayba Arena, and the Iceberg Skating Palace.  We’ll focus on two of them here.

The Bolshoy Ice Dome, to be used for hockey, features an innovative aluminum roof studded with 38,000 LEDs. Inspired by an ice drop, the roof will light up at night in vibrant colors like this photo. The facility will seat 12,000 people and will be used for concerts and sporting events after the Olympics. Fact:  Bolshoy means “major” in Russian.

Bolshoy Ice Dom, Sochi, Russia, lit up with LEDs, is home to ice hockey.

Bolshoy Ice Dom, Sochi, Russia, lit up with LEDs, is home to ice hockey.

The second building we’ll focus on is the Shayba Arena, also one of the ice hockey venues for the Olympics.  It features the latest in LED scoreboard technology installed by ColosseoEAS, a Slovakian company and a European leader in sports arena technology.  Shayba’s aluminum exterior features 45,000 programmable LEDs.  After the Olympics, the 7,000 seat Shayba will be dismantled and transported to another city in Russia for use as an ice sports facility.  Fact:  Shayba means “puck” in Russian.

Shayba Area is also home to Olympic ice hockey.

Shayba Area is also home to Olympic ice hockey.

For Further Reading

Official Web Site for Sochi 2014, http://www.sochi2014.com

Sports Illustrated, All-new Sochi Olympics venues a spectacle of lights, ice, http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/-olympics/news/20140106/sochi-winter-olympics-stadiums/

Sports Illustrated, First look: Sochi Olympic hockey will live in lights and ice domes, http://nhl.si.com/2014/01/09/first-look-sochi-olympic-hockey-will-live-in-lights-and-ice-domes/

 

 

 

 

 

Incandescent Extinction – Which light bulb will win? LED vs. CFL?

The second phase of the US light bulb phase-out hit a major milestone on Jan. 1, 2014, the deadline to end production of 40- and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs. The deadline passed by with not much notice from consumers.  But, the end of incandescent light bulbs sets up a new battle: LED light bulbs vs. CFLs.

Consumer Sentiments

A recent consumer survey by Osram Sylvania, a light bulb manufacturer, measured public attitudes about energy-efficient lighting and awareness in the US.  Here are some of the results:

  • 4 in 10 consumers are aware of the January 2014 phase out of 60W and 40W bulbs
  • More than half (59%) of consumers are excited about the phase out, as it will help Americans use more energy efficient light bulbs.
  • 46 percent of consumers plan to switch to CFLs,
  • 24 percent will opt for LEDs, and
  • 13 percent say that they will choose halogens.
  • This year, 30 percent of consumers say that they plan to buy a lot of traditional light bulbs where still available and will continue using them.
  • This is a sharp increase from the 2012 Socket Survey which showed just 16 percent said that they plan to stockpile bulbs.

Light Bulb Wars

Consumers still have time to make up their minds about their next light bulb because retailers still have supplies of 40- and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs on the shelves.  Retailers like Home Depot and Lowes have enough stock on the incandescent bulbs for consumers through the spring at least.  However, once the supplies dwindle, what should you buy? LED or CFL?  Let’s compare.

CFLs

A descendant of traditional fluorescent lights, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) contain argon and mercury vapor housed within that spiral-shaped tube. The bulbs rely on an integrated ballast to produce an electric current that passes through the mixture of gasses, exciting the gas molecules that produce the light.  The time for the ballast to produce the electrical current causes that typical CFL delay when it is turned on.  CFLs use 20-30% less energy than the typical incandescent and last about 9.1 years.  Of course, they do contain mercury, so cleaning up after breaking them and disposing of CFLs after they burn out becomes problematic.  Here’s a link to how to dispose of CFLs safely for you and the environment.

LED light bulbs

Unlike traditional incandescent bulbs, LED light bulbs generate light using a small “package” of several LEDs in a light bulb.  LED light bulbs are more efficient since they use a semiconductor to emit light or photons when electricity is passed through it.  LED light bulbs give off more than 80% of the energy used as light. The good news is that LED light bulbs can cut household energy use by as much as 80% and have a lifetime of as much as 22.8 years, about 2.5 times longer than CFLs.

So what do you choose?

Here’s a quick look at some of the LED and CFL light bulbs available on Homedepot.com (pricing as of 1/8/2014).  While Cree and Philips LED bulbs are a bit more expensive for a single bulb, they do produce a soft white light comparable to CFLS and traditional incandescent, but they last much longer.  If you are looking to save energy, you’ll want to know how efficient they are.  You’ll see this in the chart in the column lumens per watt.  This is a measure of how well the light source produces light.  The higher the number, the better your light bulb is at producing light.  Visit your local retailer to see how they look in person, since tastes vary.  For an explanation of the Color Rendition Index, read this previous post.

A Comparison Guide to LED and CFL Light Bulbs

A Comparison Guide to LED and CFL Light Bulbs

For Further Reading

Fox Business, Retailers Brace for Change Ahead of Incandescent Bulb Ban, http://www.foxbusiness.com/industries/2013/12/31/retailers-brace-for-change-ahead-incandescent-bulb-ban/

Osram, Sylvania Socket Survey, http://www.sylvania.com/en-us/tools-and-resources/surveys/Pages/socket-survey.aspx

NBC News, Majority of Americans still in the dark about incandescent light bulb phase-out, http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/majority-americans-still-dark-about-incandescent-light-bulb-phase-out-2D11805991

NBC News, With incandescents dead, smart bulbs step into the light, http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/incandescents-dead-smart-bulbs-step-light-2D11869426

Buildings, Incandescent Bulb Phase-Out Myths Debunked, http://www.buildings.com/news/industry-news/articleid/16806/title/incandescent-bulb-phase-out-myths-debunked.aspx

Newsday, Light bulb shopping choices under new ban, http://www.newsday.com/business/lightbulb-shopping-choices-under-new-ban-1.6706464

Clearlysapphire.com, Confused about Your Home Lighting? – LED, CFL and Incandescent Compared, http://blog.clearlysapphire.com/?p=492

Happy New Year 2014 – Times Square Ball LED Trivia

2014 New Year's Ball (Source: Philips)

2014 New Year’s Ball (Source: Philips)

Each year hundreds of thousands of New Year’s revelers brave the chilly New York City weather to see the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball Drop at midnight to usher in the New Year.  More than a billion more people worldwide watch the Ball Drop via television.  Since 2007, the Ball has featured LED lights.

The 2014 Ball, a geodesic sphere, is 12 feet in diameter, and weighs 11,875 pounds. The Times Square 2014 Ball will feature 2,688 of the Waterford Crystal triangles, each including a series of intricate wedge cuts that appear to be endless mirrored reflections of each other to bring a kaleidoscope of colorful patterns on the Ball.  The Ball is illuminated by 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDs (light emitting diodes). Each LED module contains 48 Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDs – 12 red, 12 blue, 12 green, and 12 white for a total of 8,064 of each color.

Every year, the Ball undergoes improvements to improve the celebratory lighting experience.  For the 14th consecutive year, Philips is the official lighting partner for the world-famous Times Square New Year’s Eve – produced by the Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment.  This year, the Ball was accompanied by the year 2014 with the “1” and “4” in special color-changing, programmable LED light bulbs from Philips’ line of hue bulbs.  Each programmable bulb has more than 16 million color options while the “2” and “0” will feature Philips’ outdoor rated BR30 LED bulbs.

Philips compiled trivia questions for the big celebration.  How smart are you about the Ball? Here’s the trivia quiz:

1) What year did the first New Year’s Eve festivities in Times Square take place?

A) 1885
B) 1900
C) 1904
D) 1915

The first ever celebration of New Year’s Eve in Times Square took place 109 years ago on Dec 31 1904. The party was organized to commemorate the official opening of the new headquarters of the New York Times. The area known back then as Longacre Square was renamed Times Square in honor of the famous publication.

2) When did the first Times Square Ball drop happen?

A) 1900
B) 1907
C) 1924
D) 1950

“The first Times Square Ball was lowered from the tower flagpole precisely at midnight on December 31 1907, to signal the end of 1907 and the beginning of 1908.”

3) How many people attended the first ever Times Square Ball Ceremony?

A) 50,000 people
B) 200,000 people
C) 500,000 people
D) 1 million people

Considered a big success, “the joyful sound of cheering, rattles and noisemakers from the over 200,000 attendees could be heard thirty miles north along the Hudson River.”

4) How much did the first Times Square Ball weigh?

A) 100 pounds
B) 300 pounds
C) 500 pounds
D) 700 pounds

The first Ball made of iron and wood, weighed 700 pounds.

5) How many lights were installed in the first Times Square Ball?

A) 100 lights
B) 250 lights
C) 500 lights
D) 1000 lights

If you said A you are right. In 1907 the first Time Square Ball was covered with 100 light bulbs.
“In 1920, a 400 pound iron Ball replaced the iron and wood Ball.
In 1955, a 150 pound aluminum Ball with 180 light bulbs replaced the iron Ball.
In 1995, the aluminum Ball was upgraded with aluminum skin, rhinestones, and computer controls.
In 1999, the crystal New Year’s Eve Ball was created and lit by Philips to welcome the new millennium.”

6) What year did LED technology replace the light bulbs in the Times Square Ball?

A) 2007
B) 2009
C) 2011
D) 2012

“To mark the 100th Anniversary of the New Year’s Eve Ball in 2007, modern LED technology replaced the light bulbs of the past. In 2008, the permanent Big Ball was unveiled atop One Times Square where it sparkles above Times Square throughout the year.”

7) How much will the 2014 TS Ball weigh?

A) 99 pounds
B) Over 5,000 pounds
C) Over 11,000 pounds
D) Almost 17,000 pounds

“The Ball is a geodesic sphere, 12 feet in diameter, and weighs 11,875 pounds. For Times Square 2014, all 2,688 of the Waterford Crystal triangles introduce the new design Gift of Imagination – featuring a series of intricate wedge cuts that appear to be endless mirrored reflections of each other inspiring our imagination with a kaleidoscope of colorful patterns on the Ball.”

8 ) How many LED modules are attached to the aluminum frame of the Ball?

A) 333 LED modules
B) 528 LED modules
C) 672 LED modules
D) 980 LED modules

The 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles are bolted to 672 LED modules which are attached to the aluminum frame of the Ball.

9) How many LEDs are required to illuminate this year’s Times Square Ball?

A) Over 11,000 LEDs
B) Over 24,000 LEDs
C) Over 32,000 LEDs
D) Over 53,000 LEDs

“The Ball is illuminated by 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDs (light emitting diodes). Each LED module contains 48 Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDs – 12 red, 12 blue, 12 green, and 12 white for a total of 8,064 of each color.”

10) The Ball can create how many vibrant colors?

A) 2 million
B) 7 million
C) 10 million
D) 16 million

“In order to produce a spectacular kaleidoscope effect atop One Times Square, the Ball is capable of creating a palette of more than 16 million vibrant colors and billions of patterns.”

For Further Reading

Times Square Alliance, http://www.timessquarenyc.org/events/new-years-eve/nye-faq/index.aspx#.Ur2eM_SIwxE

Philips, Philips hue to Mark Colorful Start to 2014 at Times Square, http://www.newscenter.philips.com/us_en/standard/news/press/2013/20131217-Hue-New-Years-Eve.wpd#.Ur2gFfSIwxG