Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Hey guys! New member here! Got a couple questions I know will probably be easy answers for some of you...

 

I am in the market for a new lava lamp for my studio apartment (the first of many). I had the lava bug back in the early 90s and had a midnight series, black base, clear liquid and purple wax as my first lamp. Had a few here and there back then but had all but forgotten about them until I started watching re-runs of "That 70s Show", and now I absolutely have to have another one!

Now, Im not the type to just go out and bu the first thing I see at target or walmart, I always research purchases like this, and it is looking like I may have been smart in doing this... Lava Lite seems to have gotten really bad since the 90s by looking at the posts here and in various reviews around the internet.

I have found numerous posts here referring to production being moved back into the US here but the main source of this information was from last year. Has this move happened? Are the Lava Lite lamps sold at target and walmart back up to par with what they should be now? Are the forumlas perfect for good flow again?

Second, I just found out about Mathmos the other day and got all excited. This excitment quickly left me when I found Mathmos's US site with no listing for the Astro that is oh-so-drool worthy... What is going on there? Are they going to produce the Astro for the US market here or what? I would much rather save my pennies for a perfect Mathmos then play the gambling game with a target bought lamp...

 

Thanks in advance! This is a wonderful site and I look forward to this new interest becoming an obsession ;)

Jamie

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No they have not moved to the US yet. If it is to happen it will happen next year. It originally was supposed to happen this year, but the schedule got pushed back. Your best bet to get a good brand new lava lite lamp is to go to spencers. They seem to have the best batches. Your other option is to buy an old lamp on ebay or from another member here. If you really want a mathmos lamp though you will have to go to ebay.co.uk and buy a lamp from someone willing to ship here. Expect to spend $100-$200 though.

Hi Jamie, welcome to the group!   The only Mathmos lamp available here and wired for the US right now, is the Telstar.  You can get them from Amazon.com, but they are expensive too, at $130, and if you are not a "Prime" member, the shipping will proably be high also.  If you want an Astro, or another Mathmos lamp, listen to Autumn, she knows what she's talking about.  Hopefully, you'll luck out and find one from someone here or on ebay that they have already re-wired for the US, if that makes a difference to you.     

Oh and if you are going to import a mathmos lamp you might as well get the best they can offer.

http://oozinggoo.ning.com/forum/topics/smart-astro-gen-2-review

The only downside is the lamps have questionable quality and can die on you.

Excellent! Thank you for the response!
What about cap dates? Have certain date ranges produced better flowing batches or anything? Or am i getting too in-depth anal now? haha :)

Anything from 2000 and earlier is a good rule of thumb. Anything made in 2013 is usually good too, but its not as good as the old lamps.

Telstars are really nice lamps, and the smaller bottles snake and flow more than any astro i have seen.

If you did get a smart astro only buy the red to blue or blue to green colourway which are both excellent, The yellow to green has nasty wax in my 1st edition lamp so not worth the risk if importing it unless anyone can confirm that they have fixed it with newer lamps/bottles.

Smart astro deaths, will either be dead/dull leds which can be replaced if you can use a soldering iron and is very easy.

Heater stops working, its NOT the heater plate, it will be the fuse or power transistor thats gone and can be replaced but you will need soldering experience to swap the 8 pin soic chip. (find a console modder for a cheap repair)

Dead power supply, any 12v 3A output psu will be fine (must be regulated output)

or a replacement pcb for the lamp could be sourced from mathmos maybe, no issues with mine yet though.

That's good information to know. I am capable of soldering if mine ever dies, but this saves me the effort of finding out what could have burnt out.

Adam said:

Telstars are really nice lamps, and the smaller bottles snake and flow more than any astro i have seen.

If you did get a smart astro only buy the red to blue or blue to green colourway which are both excellent, The yellow to green has nasty wax in my 1st edition lamp so not worth the risk if importing it unless anyone can confirm that they have fixed it with newer lamps/bottles.

Smart astro deaths, will either be dead/dull leds which can be replaced if you can use a soldering iron and is very easy.

Heater stops working, its NOT the heater plate, it will be the fuse or power transistor thats gone and can be replaced but you will need soldering experience to swap the 8 pin soic chip. (find a console modder for a cheap repair)

Dead power supply, any 12v 3A output psu will be fine (must be regulated output)

or a replacement pcb for the lamp could be sourced from mathmos maybe, no issues with mine yet though.

i will dig out the part number and datasheet for the transistor which will help with finding the right replacement part. not sure if the fuse is self resetting or not but its 3 amp rated.

i have no idea what the spec of the leds is, but the reds are standard red at i think 650nm and the blues are an unusual what looks like 445nm. I need to buy a few in and test/compare.

another thing you can do if it breaks is wire the heater plate to a 12v 2.5a power supply and bung a 3 watt rgb led light at the bottom of the base (which works very very well)

So what do you think is the cause of the failures? Too much current in the transistor or fuse? Maybe this is something we can permanently fix in the future.

Adam said:

i will dig out the part number and datasheet for the transistor which will help with finding the right replacement part. not sure if the fuse is self resetting or not but its 3 amp rated.

i have no idea what the spec of the leds is, but the reds are standard red at i think 650nm and the blues are an unusual what looks like 445nm. I need to buy a few in and test/compare.

another thing you can do if it breaks is wire the heater plate to a 12v 2.5a power supply and bung a 3 watt rgb led light at the bottom of the base (which works very very well)

Very good question Autumn, As of yet i dont know what the cause is. I do know its hot in there which wont be helping if the part is working hard and producing heat itself.

I need one or both of mine to die which hasnt happened, or another one thats died of natural causes to investigate. If i could get hold of one i would send it to a popular youtube electronics engineer that could tell us exactly where the problem/s are. And get mathmos a public flogging for it! or should it be flocking for mathmos.... :)

Im looking at how it works rather than how it dies as im looking at ways to make it better, Especially brightness and colour profile, and a few more features to make it smarter.

Smart astro, Great concept but it could be improved upon.

One thing to remember is they have to build it to a sensible price which they have done well with. Theres a considerable amount of money in the internals of the smart base.

How about slapping some heat sinks on the board? That would help if its a thermal issue. I may disassemble mine and do that...

The Vishay branded Mosfet (transistor) has the part number 'si4134dy' google 4134 mosfet for more info and the datasheet.

Cant tell who made the mosfet in my lamp, the stamped number is hard to see but doesnt look like vishay so i bet its a cheap ass chinese clone.

Theres an ST NE555 timer chip in there too, easy to source and replace. dont know what they are doing with it yet but they are quite hardy devices.

and and 78l05 5v regulator, if that fails then lamp would appear dead. easy to test with a multimeter to find out.

Hope thats helpfull to anyone who ever has bad luck with a smart astro.

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