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I've featured a smaller version of this unit before, but was travelling with work at the time, so didn't go into it too deeply. So here's the bigger version with a complete teardown and schematic.
If you look at the warp core on Star Trek you'll see it's a scaled up version of this effect. It's actually very good. The simplicity of construction is quite pleasing.
This unit is actually worth getting just for the parts inside. The power consumption as supplied is just half a watt (118mA at 4.5V).
This unit came from a local hardware store called JAC stores in Ramsey, but they seem to be common on eBay. They keywords are fireplace lamp.
In hindsight, the power jack probably breaks the negative connection as usual. There is a pin on the chip that comes out to a pad which I marked with a question mark. It's probably just an option to test for a clock signal or as a spare pin for an extra feature.
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Let's start this video with a look at what we're about to explore: it's a fake fire effect and if you're getting deja vu. I have done one of these before a very similar one, but this is a larger scale, one this one's quite big, it's about 300 millimeters about a foot wide, it's pretty big and it's very convincing. It's a really nice effect. Let's take it to bits! So here's what it looks like with the lights on - and it's not really designed to compete against bright lighting like the bench lighting, but it still puts on a decent show and it's a nice effect projected onto the back of the screen.

It's got these three-dimensional logs at the bottom. It's got a plastic case with a carry handle on top, so you can take your fire with you wherever you go and it's designed to run in either three batteries seaside batteries. This is the batteries it came with, suggesting it had been used in the shop for a display model, but it can also run from a dc jack with 4.5 volts or in our case, we'd, probably use a usb power supply with a diode in series, and that's Going to save lots of problems, but at 4.5 volts this thing only draws 118 milliamps, that's the leds and for the motor. So i'm going to start by unclipping the contacts i had some crop clips onto the battery terminals here - and this is too big right.

Tell you what i'm going to pause momentarily while i take some screws out and i'll be back in a moment. The screws are out. The base comes off like this, and we've got one common guide for the log effect and the screen, and that just leaves an empty case with glass in the front. So i shall put that down and i shall check the illumination.

It's going to be quite glaring. Now isn't it? I shall tame things down a little bit like this, that's better, so this is not just cut out at the top. The reason it's got notches cut out the top or you can see the reflection of the lights as the flame effect uh. The reason could not just cut out is because they get these bits here, actually go into the same slot at the side.

It just means that it's a single channel slot gives both uh support to both these items. I'm going to turn this this on now, because i'm quite like the fact hold on, let me just plug the dragon and turn this on. Okay, i just like the fact that i can actually, if i put this over here under the bench lights, it actually gives the effect just purely from the bench lights. On of that, it's quite good, a very simple effect.

We have a circuit board here with three wormway leds on it. There is a chip. The chip is purely a timer there's a little crystal tucking tucked under here i'll. Take the circuit board out and uh i'll take a picture of it and we can reverse engineer, but the actual the flame bit is really neat.

The flame effect uses a geared motor, very common geared motor with a little plastic stem and there's a bit of plastic pipe and on that pipe they've taken a strip of punched, reflective, mylar and they've. Just basically, threaded on then used hot melt glue to hold it in place. That is fundamental. So when you see the flame effect you're, seeing these sharp points of light reflected off the mylar onto the screen, it's a nice effect to be honest.

It's worth buying just for this bit on its own, because it could be used as the basis of something else. Even with colored lights for a sort of like, i suppose, a plasma reactor effect right, tell you what um i'm going to take this circuit board out and we'll take a look at the circuitry on it and see what it's like one moment. Please reverse engineering done before we take a look at the circuit diagram. Let's take a look at this, so this is a fairly coarse, mirror, mylar type material and what they've done is they've taken a continuous strip of mahler and they've punched.

It with lines like this. So you've got the sort of this of tongy flamey look and then a sort of joining bit flame loop joining bit and in the middle of these it alternates a flame joint uh, either sides of alternating bouncing forwards like fish, laid together in a and tin. Are these holes punched in between the middle of each section? They cut it to length, they get this plastic tube and they thread it in and out these holes and then mush it up and twist in a spiral and then tack it with hot melt glue at each end, and that creates this. A fan of staggered of blades and there is a bit of artistic license.

You could possibly shuffle this about a bit if you didn't get the desired effect, but it's quite neat that if you're such a highly mirrored material, i suppose you could use sequins in a way. I'm not really sure if you wanted to do a custom effect. But that's how they do that now, let's get on to the circuit board. So here is the circuit board.

I shall put it around that way. I shall bring the schematic around and i shall focus down onto the table because that's where all the action is about to happen so i'll zoom in a bit for this, this chip is only used for the timing function. I mean, technically speaking, it is almost well also doing the power on power off, but in reality it's kind of redundant. It only is the timing and it's marked on six hl2 at 204.

I'm guessing 204 is the production date 2020 week 44., but on 6h. This is the six hours on 18 hours off timer, so the fireplace lights itself effectively at the same time, every night once you've turned it on. I get the feeling this is just a little microcontroller custom programmed with that cycle. The crystal, which is in the back of the circuit board, let me show you where that is there is the crystal - is behind these purple pads here, and they go straight to the microcontroller they're connected to pin one and two of the microcontroller positive is pin three And uh negative is pin five see if you can work out what microcontroller is is if it's not a dedicated chip, but it's most likely using a 32.768 kilohertz crystal, which is a very common timing crystal the reason they use.

That value is because, if you divide it down in binary, it comes out at one hertz and then you can use it as a base. Timing for say, divide by 60, and that gives you one minute timing divide by 60. Again that gives you an hour. So the positive comes on uh.

There is a decoupling capacitor here the negative goes to the switch. You know what i'll just point out the components then i'll go to the schematic. So here's the chip, here's the mosfet, that's switching everything with its pull-down resistor and its current limiting gate, resistor, there's the motor connections with capacitor across them and a 47 ohm resistor in series there's an led with a 47 ohm resistor in series. Another decoding capacitor for the supply and the switch pads.

I shall show you the circuit diagram now this will save a lot of time. Really it makes more sense. Doesn't it so here are the batteries. There is also the option of plugging in the jack when you plug in the jack.

It will uh. I believe it breaks the positives so that can't reverse charge into the batteries and that powers directly from the jack there's a little decoupling capacitor. I shall point that out: it is this one here across the supply rails and then to the maker, the little microcontroller or dedicated chip with its crystal and the little switch here when you switch it to either timed or continuous. This microcontroller.

As soon as you put the batteries in is powered all the time all it does is indicate which mode it's in. By pulling one of these lines down to the zero volt rail, when it does that it will either just drive the mosfet continually or it will do that six hour timing and then it will turn the mosfet off time. Another 18 hours. Now, i'm guessing the reason.

They've chosen six hours and six hours on 18 hours off is because it's kind of binary again, that's one in four is the six hours on, but we've got a 10k resistor pulling the gate of the p-channel mosfet to the positive rail that keeps it turned off And to turn it on this 1k resistor, it pulls it down to the zero volt rail. I'm not sure why they chose that specific polarity. The mosfet is marked 2 301. I found a similar one called si2301 and that equates to a1 shb, which is a standard p channel mosfet and the the complementary one to the n channel mosfet a2 shb, which these are just really common, cheap generic mosfets.

You find them in tons of chinese products and yet they're very, very impressive components. The mosfet switch is a little power rail, which has four 47-ohm resistors. One of them goes to the motor with its little decoupling capacitor in the vicinity. It's literally right across there that capacitor will basically absorb any sort of switching transients and also the actual the noise from the brushes in the motor to actually avoid it, causing problems with the mosfet or the microcontroller.

And then there are three other resistors in series with three leds: that's this led here with each resistor. This led here with its resistor, and this led here with its resistor in reality just to shuffle the uh track layout in the circuit board, some of the resistors on the other side of the led led it doesn't really matter as long as it's in sears with It so it's a very simple circuit. You could do away with most of this circuitry. You could actually just mount leds inside it'll be interesting to put high power ones in, but these the it's important that there are a sharp point source, because that then creates a fairly solid reflection from the actual mylar rotating mirrors.

It's very simple, very neat. I, like the fact it's just using a bit of plastic tube hot melt glued onto the shaft and with this just woven in and out and then just twisting that spiral like that and then rotating on the motor very slowly uh just in front of three leds. That is it that's what creates the effect very clever, it's quite convincing, as you saw from the beginning of the video, so there we go. I would say that the device, the whole device is actually worth buying just purely for this assembly in the base.

Even just the motor this section of mylar and the pipe and then uh the circuit board the leds. Although for more points, you could actually use a bit of 12 volt led tape or something like that and put a bigger resistor and sears the motor and run the whole lot off 12 volts, it's viable or perhaps replace them with one more leds to create a Much stronger sort of projection effect. It's not an efficient way of doing it because, ultimately, most of the light from these is just being wasted and the black interior, and it's only where it hits the reflectors that actually split splays out. So it's not an efficient way of creating the effect, but it does a good job of creating an effect and it's a subtle effect anyway.

Just that flame, uh sort of array going up the screen. It's quite neat. I like it, you.

17 thoughts on “Led fire simulator teardown and schematic”
  1. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Steve Wardle says:

    Clive, any chance you could do a video on how to make the multimode led strings turn on as solid on rather than flashing and going through their 8 modes. Can't seem to buy light with just solid on anymore and the flashing for indoor use is annoying.
    I'm guessing they could be rewired or tie one pin of the microcontroller high/low. Many thanks. Live the channel

  2. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars NightHawkInLight says:

    Neat. I bought an electric fireplace this year and my one complaint is that it's not bright enough. Good to know how it works so I may dare to modify it eventually.

  3. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars cujoedaman says:

    I sometimes hate that I'm the type of person that can see the pattern of the rotating mirrors and am thinking of ways to make it more random… possibly overcomplicating the design ๐Ÿ˜›

  4. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars izimsi says:

    Higher power LEDs in the right color and you could probably project that directly onto a wall.

    BTW, any simple way to make the motor spin at a variable and pseudo-random speed? I think it might make the effect nicer. I guess PWM would do it, but maybe it could be done much easier.

  5. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Andrew France says:

    I don't like that flame effect as I have been spoilt by having one that uses an ultrasonic mister and halogen bulbs. It gives a vastly more realistic and truly random 3D flame and smoke effect. It also has led's embedded in the fire bed to give the effect of the embers glowing with ever changing intensities.

  6. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Mike S says:

    Very cool, I've never seen one taken apart and I have wondered how they were built. I would have made the reflectors so they rotated somewhat with as random a pattern of gearing as possible, so the flames didn't repeat.

  7. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Laurie Seto says:

    I remember making such a prop for a local small theatre group but it was a vertical cylinder with spiral cutouts covered with coloured lighting gel and with fins on top that rotated from the heat of a light bulb on the base; just like spinning Christmas angels with bells and candles. None of that fancy electronic stuff for me….didn't really exist back then.

  8. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars TheGreatAtario says:

    I don't know why it took me this long to realize that when Clive says "this is worth buying even just for the ______", he's coming from the perspective of someone who hashes together stage props and effects!

  9. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars A Wilson says:

    My Inner Lunatic would like to see you rebuild this gizmo replacing the 3 LED's with 3 5W LED's…

    Then it should be visible no matter HOW bright the room lights are…


  10. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Nicholas Boyarko says:

    I rented a 1 bedroom in Colorado for $2500/mo, the listing said fireplace but it was a 36'x24' one of these with a space heater. Pretty pleasant all things considered.

  11. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars SynthGal says:

    I remember being at the mall where there was a pop up store for these in the middle of the… hallway? the big area you walk in between stores

    And one of them was open for maintenance and I got to look inside and i was so amazed as a kid finally realizing how they worked. Although that one wasn't mirror bits on a shaft, it was more like a disco cylinder of mirror pieces that were contiguous

  12. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars SupremeCoalition says:

    Thanks for including footage of the device at the end of the video! I was going to hit replay as soon as the video ended to behold the awesome effect once more, but you read my mind ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Saigyl says:

    I took my infrared space heater open years ago because it was making annoying noises when the fire display light was active, i was surprised to find the same reflective stuff on a spindle too

  14. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars S K says:

    Hi Clive, I recommend FFcossag youtube channel , he does electronics and is also from some weird Nordic country ike Scotland har har , I really think you would like his channel though. He's a very smart guy,

  15. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Terry C. says:

    I bought a full size fireplace with this type of setup in it for $20!! Tractor supply had a few of them on clearance for $70 for a few weeks and I had my eye on this one but didn't have the extra cash at that time. I went in a few weeks later and they had the one I was wanting on clearance for $20. I grabbed it dragged the box to the register. Got it home and there was NOTHING wrong with it!! The people just apparently didn't really read the instructions. LOL It has heat too, which is the part they couldn't get to work apparently. You just had to hold the power button for 10 seconds. LOL

  16. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Jc Lowe says:

    The end of the video would make me feel like I was having a white Christmas with Christmas music or just some instrumental music or even the sounds of having a fire in a fireplace on a at home date.

  17. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars F says:

    Hi Clive, great video. I would love to see a teardown of some disposal vape devices (e.g. Elf bars). I have a great collection that I do not use, but would love to re use by re charging and refilling the liquid into the cotton sponge piece. Would you be interested in them being posted?

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