I just joined the forum. Wanted to let people know that I am working on a color changing lava lamp. Mine will be called the Fire Light. I'm hoping to get it on kickstarter soon. I have a working prototype running now. I'm also building custom, heavy duty steel bases for them. I'm in the process of finding parts suppliers and getting costs for the parts. Just wanted to see if there was any interest in this. I am working now on getting 3 or 4 different prototype designs of bases built so that I can put together a video for kickstarter. I'll get some pictures posted soon. I am having a problem with my phone camera not capturing the colors very well. I'm not sure how I'll deal with that when I try to make a video.
The prototype certantly has potential the colour is there its just getting the heating element right so it keeps it a constant temperature that's the issue Mathmos had with there's.
I thought about offering a conversion kit for existing lava lamps. A couple issues possible arise though.
1. One is that this concept only works with clear/white wax. I could conceivably build a version with the heater element and just a white LED for people that want the heavy duty base/heater element design with their colored globes. The heater on this will definitely be more stable than the light bulbs. Since there is a slight resistance tolerance of the heater elements, each lamp will be tested and the proper voltage will be set at the factory (my garage for now, until I can get a shop put together). I have a company building me custom heater elements as we speak. The voltage will be adjustable by the owner as well, though it shouldn't need it after being pre-set. I know several of my old lava lamps get too hot, and they need a dimmer switch on them.
2. Another possible issue is that I'm not sure how many variations/shapes of lava lamp bottles/globes there are out there. The body of this thing is a piece of steel pipe, with the top inner edge reamed or beveled to a particular angle and diameter. I can offer a few different sizes in the future I suppose. I know I have at least four different sizes of lava lamps, and older ones are shaped a little different than newer ones that look almost the same.
Some things to think about.
Also, I have cycled my two colorless bottles a few times since yesterday, and they are starting to get little more translucent and less clear. I did get on line yesterday and ordered some white candle wax dye. Thought I might see what that does. I hope it doesn't make it too opaque. The light has to travel through the wax and up into blobs that are floating near the top. When you're custom building something like this, there are always a million little details that are all their own individual hurdles to be jumped.
I would suggest,if your going to try to design a retrofit in the future, you stick to the aristocrat or grande size.
the reason is simple
miniaturization can get costly
you would have adequate width / distance to bulb ratio with the larger size lamps
Also, a decorative voltage control knob would be beneficial
It seems to me, it is not always "Set it and forget it" due to seasonal ambient room temps, ceiling fans, sunlight, etc
I could put a control knob on it. There will be a box coming from the power cord sitting off to the side of the lamp. It'll be necessary to contain the electronics as all that stuff will not fit in the body/base.
In the goo kits that I have done, they ALL start out translucent. They then turn to opaque, but when the temp really gets cooking they turn back to translucent (if you want to see examples, in my videos I have a few of my clear pink which looks like champagne bubbles). For some reason some of them will turn back to clear, but I do have a few kits that remain opaque although not many. That is another problem with the MT goo. It does what it wants. Now whether this is totally 100 percent a temperature issue (which IMO I think it is) you would have to make sure that the goo remains translucent and what temp it needs to remain same. Like Erin pointed out, there are a lot of fluctuations in the MT goo wax.
I ordered that white dye. I'm going to see how that works. If high temperature is a problem with that wax, and it likely is, because quite a few of my lamps get too hot, hopefully it'll be partly solved by my adjustable voltage control on my heater element.
So I almost have my initial prototype bodies put together. They still need to be cleaned up and painted. The one with the gemstone inlay/epoxy was just a quick idea. It's a little rough looking, I know. The brass ring around it was quickly bent into an oval. That one will be painted black. It all needs refinement. I'll have these prototypes completely put together and operating over Thanksgiving holiday.