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Black Lights, Blacklights, Collecting Lights, UV Flashlights, UV Lighting, UV LEDs

Discussion in 'Scorpions' started by Kugellager, Jun 2, 2005.

  1. Kugellager

    Kugellager ArachnoJester Arachnosupporter

    This thread is for posting links on where to find UV lighting sources for collecting and illuminating scorpions. I will place a link to this thread in the FAQ sticky for easy finding in the future.

    This is not meant of be a discussion thread. If you find a good link to a company that sells some sort of UV lighting place it here with a quick description of what they sell. Do NOT post links to eBay or other sites where the link will only be temporary. Try to keep them to companies that make or sell them.

    For blacklight discussion go to this thread HERE



    EDIT: Yes I do realize that "blacklights" is in the title twice. This is to facilitate use of the search function when people do searches.
  2. TheNothing

    TheNothing Arachnoprince Old Timer

  3. Kugellager

    Kugellager ArachnoJester Arachnosupporter

    LED Museum

    These guys review all types of LED's and LED lights...they run them through all sorts of tests. They also have a plethora of manufacturer links. One stop source for LED information. Lots of UV LED information and links.

    Superbright LED's

    They sell UV and many other types of LED's. They have them as separate LED's as well as in LED light heads which can fit into various types of light sockets. They are a great source for someone who wants to build their own UV light.


    This site has various UV LED flashlights for sale at fairly good prices.

    United Nuclear

    They have various LED flashlights including a 32 LED Maglight...the Maglight runs $150 USD...I have see this for much cheaper...I got mine for $75 for the same exact light.


    Various LED flashlights at various price levels.


    For those of you who are interested in the old-bulky battery eating UV tube blacklights here is an excellent link that sells them.

  4. Kugellager

    Kugellager ArachnoJester Arachnosupporter

  5. John Bokma

    John Bokma Arachnobaron Old Timer

    http://johnbokma.com/pet/scorpion/detection-using-uv-leds.html has a link to LSDiodes. I ordered once with them, and have no real complaints, well, except that two LEDs died, after a short time. No idea if that's normal.
  6. John Bokma

    John Bokma Arachnobaron Old Timer

    http://johnbokma.com/pet/scorpion/detection-using-uv-leds.html has a link to LSDiodes. The first package they sent got lost, but I paid extra for insurance. She second package had 2 LEDs (out of 50) that died on me. I don't think I made mistakes in the design.

    When you buy LEDs be aware that you need a limiting resistor. You can't connect them directly. In general: a LED has a forward current If, and when the current goes through it, it has a voltage drop (Vf). Always check the specifications of the LEDs.

    The resistor you need is: ( Vin - number of LEDs x Vf ) / If (series)

    So: If you want to connect 3 LEDs to 12V, and the forward current is 20 mA (which is 0.02 A) and the Vf over a LED is 3.2 V:

    ( 12 V - 3 x 3.2 V ) / 0.02 A = 120 Ohm

    You can often buy resistor(s) together with LEDs.

    Oh and remember: UV light DAMAGES YOUR EYES
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2005
  7. Kugellager

    Kugellager ArachnoJester Arachnosupporter

    That is not always true. You only need a voltage limiting resistor if you are using a higher voltage that the maximum voltage that the LED can take. In most cases this voltage is 2.5-3.0V DC. Something to remember with using LED's is that they only use DC voltage and only work(light up) in one direction. If you connect a too hige of a voltage in in either the correct or incorrect direction you can and will blow the LED. If you have a higher voltage source you can place several in series without a resistor asl long as the maximum combind voltages that the LED's can handle are equal to or higher than the voltage that the DC power you are using. Eventually the amount of current in a circut will also be an issue but this can usually be dealt with by placing several series circuts in paralle with one another.

    On another note...this is not a UV lightsource review thread so keep the posts limited to posting links with a description of what they sell.

  8. John Bokma

    John Bokma Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Connecting 1 UV LED to 3V is not really very useful. I use 48 at the moment, which makes a scorpion glow at roughly 4-5m distance.

    They work perfectly on AC if you connect them anti-parallel, one will burn on the positive halve, the other on the negative. But the net effect will be (a bit) less compared to DC and using halve the number of LEDs.

    I am not sure if this is true, since every schematic I have seen so far with LEDs in series *does* use a limiting resistor.

    I always learned that putting LEDs parallel is a bad idea (without a resistor for each branch)

    Just giving links to sellers without at least a some information on how reliable they are doesn't make much sense, moreover, I consider it useless. Otherwise this thread could be limited to: http://www.google.com/search?q=uv led sell
  9. skinheaddave

    skinheaddave SkorpionSkin Arachnosupporter

    Here you go: the article on the construction of UV lights as it appeared in the ATS forum 13(2)-2004.
    The construction of portable ultraviolet lighting systems for the detection of scorpions in the field.

    David H. Desoer and John J. Bellini


    Scorpions fluoresce when exposed to UV light (Lawrence, 1954). More than perhaps any other factor, it was the use of UV light in the field that allowed scorpion research to become truly feasible (Pringle and Polis, 1994). Amateurs have also benefited from the ability to easily locate and collect scorpions in the field. Unlike the early researchers and their heavy UV equipment, however, contemporary scorpion hunters have the advantage of light emitting diode (LED) technology (Lowe et al., 2003). LED’s use relatively little power, do not produce huge amounts of excess heat, produce light in a relatively narrow range of wavelengths and are more sturdy than the more traditional fluorescent tubes (Lowe et al., 2003; personal observations).

    With this in mind and the ATS 2004 conference quickly approaching, we set about designing and building our own portable UV light units that functioned more effectively than the few units that were then available on the market. Although we consulted with each other on certain components and design features of our lights, the two units discussed in this paper were designed and built independently. Thus, while there are similarities between both UV lighting systems, there are also significant differences that we will detail independently.

    It should be noted that we are not electricians, engineers or otherwise qualified to dictate specifics as to the safe wiring and use of electrical equipment. Thus, no blueprints or specific wiring instructions will be given. Instead, we hope to convey that there is a place for the do-it-yourself approach to the design and construction of portable UV lighting equipment.

    Shared components

    At the heart of both systems were the MR16-UV24 LED heads available from http://www.superbrightleds.com. Each head consists of 24 UV LED’s designed to operate at 12V forward voltage and emitting light at 405nm. The LED’s come assembled into a unit designed to work with the MR-16 halogen bulb sockets commonly found in accent or track lighting. The wiring of LED arrays is not overly difficult and therefore purchasing individual LED’s to construct a custom array is well within the capabilities of anyone with a basic understanding of electronics.

    The power source for both UV lights consists of one Mitsubishi A412/8.5 battery. Ten batteries were purchased on ebay (http://www.ebay.com/) for a total of $24 USD. The batteries measure 6” x 3.75” x 3.75” (152mm x 95mm x95mm), weigh five pounds (2.3kg) and are rated for 8.5Ah at 12V. While these batteries were ideal for our application, they usually retail for substantially more than $2.40/piece. Until we found them, we had discussed several power options. Motorcycle batteries and R/C car battery packs were two possibilities that were considered but never properly investigated or tested. Regardless, searching the internet for discounts can reduce the total cost of the project.

    To charge our batteries, we used two different types of charger. The first was a simple 1A manual charging unit. This unit was compact and easy to use, but required careful timing of the charge to prevent overcharging the battery. The second charger was a standard car battery charger that could be set to charge at 2A on its lowest setting. After some initial difficulty with the automatic circuitry of the car charger, we successfully used it to charge the depleted batteries.

    Female blade connectors were used in both systems to connect the lights to the batteries, the type of connector used will obviously depend on the type of power supply used.

    David’s system

    The main body of the light unit consisted of a three-headed adjustable fixture for outdoor floodlights. The standard medium base sockets were removed from the unit to make room for the LED heads. Wire leads were then soldered in the correct polarity to the two prongs of the LED heads and fed through the floodlight fixture. The LED heads were then glued in place to prevent them from moving. Hot glue was used so that damaged heads could later be removed by reheating the glue.

    The rest of the electrical system consisted of a length of extension cord, a switch scavenged off of an old heat pad and the blade connectors. The switch was installed towards one end of the extension cord so that it would rest near the battery during use. The switch has four positions, corresponding to off, low, medium and high on the heat pad. In this application, the heads were wired up so that the positions corresponded to off and one, two or all three heads being lit. The blade connectors were soldered to the opposite end of the extension cord as the light.

    The lighting unit was completed using a bent spatula and a blank electrical wall plate for a handle on the lighting fixture. Holes were drilled in the spatula so that they lined up with the holes in both the wall plate and the floodlight fixture. A hole was drilled and the extension cord was fed through the wall plate and spatula before being wired to the LED heads. Screws were then put through the faceplate, spatula and fixture to hold the unit together, concealing and protecting the electrical connections.

    The entire system was then mounted into some military webbing. This allowed for a distribution of the weight of the battery, lighting system and other collection tools. Reflective foil tape was attached to several locations on the webbing so as to increase visibility at night as well as to tone down the paramilitary appearance of the setup.

    John’s system

    The lighting unit consists of two gooseneck MR-16 socket track light units, each with a 24 UV LED head, attached to a standard outdoor electrical box with a toggle switch for each light head and a power cable running to a backpack mounted rechargeable battery.

    Each gooseneck fixture consists of one LED head inserted into the MR-16 socket and hot-glued around the seam to secure it in place for the rigors of field use. Each fixture was then mounted in one of the two of conduit attachment ports at the front of the electrical box using cable compression fittings. The cable compression fittings are designed to provide a weather-proof wire attachment to an electrical box as was used but had to be modified slightly to accept the gooseneck fixtures. Two heavy-duty toggle switches were mounted on the right side of the box to control the power to each light head. Some basic drilling of the zinc-metal electrical box was required to mount the toggle switches.

    The power cable, made of heavy gauge zip cord, was attached to one of the conduit ports at the rear of the box using the same plastic cable compression fittings as with the goose neck fixtures. No modification of the compressing fitting was necessary. The power cord is approximately 6 feet (2 m) long to run to the battery pack and for ease of use when setting the lamp down to collect a specimen. The cord is attached to the rechargeable battery using two female blade connectors as with Dave’s light.

    Once all the cables and lamp heads were attached to the electrical box, all connections were soldered in the proper polarity and the light was tested for function. The handle on the unit was made from a metal electrical cover plate, to which a simple cabinet handle was attached for holding the lighting unit. The cabinet handle was attached at an angle for ergonomics.

    The operation of the lighting unit consists of nothing more than holding it in ones left hand and flipping the toggle switch(s) into their operating position with the available thumb. The design can easily be reversed for carrying the lamp in the right hand.

    The backpack used in this system to carry the battery in a 3 liter capacity camelback with lot of room for water, rechargeable battery, collecting tools, collecting vials/containers and a rather large digital camera.

    Test results

    The more objective results were garnered by comparison to a 32 UV LED Mag-lite purchased on the web. The Mag-lite also worked flawlessly and had excellent battery life. One set of Energizer batteries was used during the entire ATS and post-ATS collecting trips with an approximate nightly usage of one and a half to two hours per night for a total of five nights collecting. While both the custom units and the Mag-lite fluoresced scorpions equally well, the custom units provided a wider illuminated area. The custom units also produced more visible light, emitting a peak wavelength of 405nm, as opposed to the 395nm peak output of the Mag-lite. While in theory it is better to have less visible light, so as not to wash out the contrast between a fluorescing scorpion and the background environment, we noticed no significant difference in performance between the two – and as a couple of close encounters with Mojave rattlesnakes (Crotalus scutulatus) proved, there are some advantages to having more visible light -- though for the most part the snakes still looked like cow patties amongst the rocks. John can attest to this as he came within 8” of stepping on a Mojave rattler.

    Battery life for the custom units varied. In addition to the UV light, David had a 10W halogen white light hooked up to the battery. Using mostly the UV light, with occasional use of the white light to look for snakes and cliffs, a fully charged battery lasted approximately six hours before any significant reduction in intensity was noted. When only one LED head was used for illumination while transferring scorpions, checking maps, adjusting equipment or other field tasks, the battery life was prolonged. By topping up the batteries on a nightly basis, John never experienced any drop-off in performance with his unit, even after more than four hours of almost continuous use.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2011
  10. skinheaddave

    skinheaddave SkorpionSkin Arachnosupporter

    With regard to field usefulness, both custom units worked magnificently. Both John and David spotted scorpions from over 25 feet away on several occasions. Furthermore, 2nd instar scorpions and scorpions that were mostly obscured by their surroundings popped out from the surrounding darkness, allowing for the discovery of many scorpions that we are confident would have been missed using fluorescent BLB tubes or a three LED headlamp of the type David used at the 2003 ATS conference. In addition to helping us to collect all the specimens we wanted, both around Carlsbad and at other locations after the conference, the equipment we used allowed us to witness natural behaviors in the wild. We witnessed several scorpions eating, including instances of both Centruroides vittatus and Vaejovis russelli eating V.coahuilae. We also witnessed a sub-adult Paruroctonus gracilior digging a burrow and a pair of Centruroides exilicauda mating. At one point David found himself on a rock where he could see no less than five C.exilicauda at one time – one of which had a back full of first instar young.

    Future direction

    As with any project of this type, the design is not perfected and the ideas haven’t stopped. David is looking to build a more compact and sturdy unit and John is considering adding a third LED head. Watch out next year for the 2005 editions of the custom lighting units.

    References cited

    Lawrence, R.F. (1954) Fluorescence in Anthropoda. Journal of the Entomological Society (South Africa) 17: 167-170.

    Lowe, G., Kutcher, S.R., Edwards, D. (2003) A powerful new light source for ultraviolet detection of scorpions in the field. Euscorpius 8: 1-7.

    Pringle, L., Polis, G. (1994) Scorpion Man: Exploring the world of scorpions. Prentice Hall.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2011
  11. Eurypterid

    Eurypterid Arachnerd Old Timer

    I don't know if it's acceptable in this thread to post a link to my own ad in the FS board (John or Dave can delete this post if not), but I have a huge box of UV LED headlamps that work extremely well for scorp hunting (I've been using the same light for a couple of years). When the company discontinued the light (they weren't selling), I bought out their entire stock. You can see pics of the light (well, one that looks just like it) and of scorps under the light in my ad. I can spot scorps in the open about 6-7m with these, even though they only have 8 LEDs, due to the design of the reflector.

    PS: As for the longevity of my ad, this is the third time I've posted it, because I've been selling these things off so long that my previous posts have been bumped off the board, and I still have a LOT of them left.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2005
  12. brigebane

    brigebane Arachnoprince Old Timer

    I've picked up a wonderful twin task model UV LED from my local Army surplus. Very effective thus far.
  13. Kugellager

    Kugellager ArachnoJester Arachnosupporter

  14. skinheaddave

    skinheaddave SkorpionSkin Arachnosupporter

    2006 edition

    Okay folks, here's this year's update.

    The handheld unit is an emptied out floodlight into which I've put 72 blacklight LEDs using the same system as the last model (superbright led heads and a sealed cell 12V 8Ah battery). This year there is also a headlamp with three sections, each with 24LEDs. The articulated outside sections are both blacklights and the center section is white. There are two switches, one to control each type of light. The blacklights and white light can each be set to be either on, off or set up so that the switch on the hand lamp controls whether they are off or on. So you can set your blacklights on and your white light to be controlled by the handheld unit. Then, when you are unsure whether you are looking at a cow patty or rattlesnake, you can use your thumb to turn on your headlamp white light. Both units are connected to the box in the image, which is going to be attached to the battery itself. The guage on the top can be used to test your battery strength and both units are connected to the box using Dsub connectors out of an old computer. And yes, that is a thermometer in the side of the handheld unit. Is it excessive? Of course -- and that's why it is fun!

    Last edited: Jan 13, 2011
  15. G. Carnell

    G. Carnell Arachnoemperor Old Timer

    he is alive!!!

    How is everything Dave? :)
    nice UV lamp, all i have is a keyring ;)
  16. ScorpDude

    ScorpDude Arachnoangel Old Timer

    Wow! Thats for some serious scorpion catching!
  17. Yama Sahak

    Yama Sahak Arachnopeon

    I know a good company...

    There is a company that builds each and every light one at a time. They do not mass manufacture their Ultraviolet LED Flashlights. Instead, since all of their flashlights are built one at a time they each get special care and excellent quality through and through. Their lights are built tough, they are powerful, they are lightweight and have a lifetime warranty.
    I must confess; I am the owner and the only employee to that own company. If you order an Ultraviolet LED Flashlight from me, I will personally build it myself. I will make sure I put all the care in the world when I build your Ultraviolet LED Flashlight, I will make sure I build your light with the highest quality products.
    I have been building my Ultraviolet LED Flashlight for four years now, and I have been using them just as long. I have had the same light for that whole time and it still works great.
    Check out my Ultraviolet LED Flashlights at: www.ultravioletledflashlights.com

    Have a wonderful day and happy huntings.
    Yama Sahak - owner and sole employee.
  18. dtknow

    dtknow Arachnoking Old Timer

    Any worries about eye protection? I'm guessing since the beam produced by these LED's is rather direct this concern is minimal?
  19. bia-bia-bia

    bia-bia-bia Arachnopeon

    The UV radiation emitted by these LEDs is significant and can damage your eyesight. You should be wearing UV protected glasses when using these.

    UV rated glasses can be picked up for like $3 at a hardware store, and it's worth your retinas.
  20. Kazz

    Kazz Arachnosquire

    I just wanted to recommend Yama from http://www.ultravioletledflashlights.com (who posted above).

    I bought 2 Hadrurus arizonensis from him today, and he's a nice guy to deal with. He showed me some of the lights he sells, and they looked very nice! Even the 1 LED keychain light he gave me with the scorpions is better than I expected, and more than enough to light up the scorpions in my tanks. I plan to buy one (or more) of the bigger ones pretty soon. :D

    Thanks again, Yama!
    <EDIT>Keep to topic<EDIT>