Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 46

Designing neon signs is like
drawing a cartoon with a pencil
of light.

Normally, the exact tube layout
is created with the neon glass shop
so that the glass shop will know the
total stretched length of the neon
tube. From the length and number
of tubes, the electrical parts required
are dimensioned; the size, weight and
placement determine the structural
design of the sign's body.
As neon tubes are unique, the
power supply must be matched to
the tube - "one size fits all" does not
apply here. The tube length, diameter
(the smaller, the more restricted the
electrical flow) and the type of filling
gas (depending on the color) are the
parameters necessary to calculate
the correct power supply. Neon power
supplies can be "core and coil" transformers or electronic power supplies.
In contrast to LEDs, which work at
a low voltage (commonly 12 or 24 V)
and high currents of several amperes
of direct current, neon tubes operate
at higher voltages (a blue, 4-ft.-long
tube of 15mm diameter takes 742 V
to light) and lower amounts of alternating current (a standard operating
current for neon is 0.025 amps only).
Electronic transformers put out
alternating current at high frequency,
which limits their use to dry, indoor
conditions (water would drain the
high frequency currents to earth),
so core and coil transformers are the
way to go for outdoor signs. They are
larger and heavier, but much sturdier
than their electronic pendants -
something to consider when designing the sign structure. Transformer
manufacturers provide charts for
easily estimating the matched transformer size and type to a given set of
46

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

OCTOBER 2017

tube lengths/diameters.
High voltage needed in neon signs
requires different installation/mounting
than low voltage LEDs. The neon
tubes can be connected to the high
voltage cable (called "GTO") either
by twisting or via push-in connectors
called "housings" mounted on the
sign faceplate. For good references
in correct electrical installation of
neon signs, consult the books Neon
Lighting of the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI),
and Neon Techniques, 4th Edition,
edited by Wayne Strattman (ST Books).
Transforming text into neon signs
is like writing with a pen - drawing
lines of light. Transforming a com-

pany logo into a fresh neon sign
design takes qualities of a cartoonist,
because expressing the major characteristics with only a few lines of
light is paramount.
No less important is the designer's
knowledge about the technical requirements of a neon sign. For example, the
stroke width is given by the glass
tube diameter ranging from 8-18 mm
(in Europe to 25 or 38mm is common).
Joining sections of different diameters
within a single neon tube is very
uncommon, whereas joining sections of
different colors is possible (within limits
given by a common type of fill gas).
So, can you "do that" in neon?
Chances are, you can.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - October 2017

Signs of the Times - October 2017
Contents
From the Editor
St Update
At Large
Tech Review
Vehicles + Vinyl
Design Matters
Nuts + Bolts
Vital Signs
Can You Make That in Neon?
Fabricating Bannerisms
Strictly Electric: It’s Good to Bb King
New Products
Advertising Index
Last Look
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Intro
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - BB1
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - BB2
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Signs of the Times - October 2017
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - BD_L
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - BD
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Cover2
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 1
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Contents
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 3
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 4
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 5
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 6
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 7
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - From the Editor
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 9
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - St Update
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 11
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 12
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 13
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 14
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 15
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 16
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 17
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - At Large
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 19
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 20
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 21
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Tech Review
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 23
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Vehicles + Vinyl
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 25
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 26
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 27
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Design Matters
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 29
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Nuts + Bolts
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 31
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 32
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 33
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 34
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 35
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 36
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 37
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Vital Signs
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 39
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 40
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 41
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 42
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 43
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Can You Make That in Neon?
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 45
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 46
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 47
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 48
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 49
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Fabricating Bannerisms
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 51
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 52
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 53
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 54
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 55
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Strictly Electric: It’s Good to Bb King
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 57
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 58
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 59
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 60
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 61
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 62
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 63
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 64
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 65
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - New Products
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 67
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 68
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 69
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 70
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 71
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 72
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Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 75
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 76
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 77
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 78
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 79
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 80
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 81
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 82
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Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 84
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 85
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Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 87
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 88
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 89
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Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 91
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 92
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 93
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 94
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Advertising Index
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Last Look
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Cover3
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Cover4
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