Stencil Printing Yield Improvements
Overcome Nodules and Scratches on Wire Bondable Plating on PCBs
Solder Paste Selection for Bottom Termination Components Attach
Jetting Solder Paste Opens Up New Possibilities
Advances Autonomous Driving V2X Technologies
Surface Insulation Resistance of No-Clean Flux Residues
Jetting Conductive Adhesives with Silver Coated Polymer Particles
Residues on Probing PCBAS-Consistent Connections Across No-Clean Fluxes
Latest Industry News
Applying Strategic Sourcing Principles to Modern Procurement
Should You Trust Apple's New Blood Oxygen Sensor?
Cobalt demand for 5G technology to challenge electric vehicles
S. Korea to launch supercomputer for biotechnology in 2023
China needs first mover advantage in digital currency race
Top 10 Digital Transformation Trends For 2021
Chinese leaders split over releasing blacklist of U.S. companies
It's getting harder for tech companies to bridge the US-China divide

Mysterious Flickering Lights

Mysterious Flickering Lights
Main Street's neon lights would flicker off and on but always after midnight. What was causing these mystery lights to go on and off?
Mysteries of Science


In a small southern town where stores were closed and sidewalks were rolled up by 9:00, Main Street's neon lights would flicker off and on after midnight. The ghostly lights would appear in the same pattern night after night. Flicker for a minute then stop and then start again. This would happen regardless of whether or not they were unplugged at the time.

The light show always began after midnight. Vandals and neighborhood pranksters were quickly ruled out as the culprits.

While the town's people joked that the mystery lights must be caused by aliens, this was the only theory that they could come up with that made any sense.

What was causing these mystery lights to go on and off?

There must be some kind of invisible energy that was activating the lights. But where did it come from and was it a threat?

Here's the rest of the story.

The state trooper described the events to people in the crime lab hoping for a solution. The best theory was that TV or radio waves were exciting the neon lights. One fellow, who had worked at a TV transmitter location, told how they could light fluorescent light bulbs by taking them near the transmitter tower.

As strong radio waves are absorbed by neon gas atoms in a fluorescent light, it makes them glow, or fluoresce. He showed the effect by placing a tiny neon indicator bulb inside a microwave oven and made it glow by turning on the oven.

The theory sounded reasonable. They needed to look for a transmitter. The following week, two state police cars arrived at midnight to help track down the radiation source. They rigged up small neon bulbs with 1 foot wires connected to leads to act like an antenna.

As the lights began to flicker, a radio voice was heard from one of the police cars. As soon as the voice stopped, the lights stopped flickering. The trooper went back to his car. "Breaker, breaker, anyone copy the Copper Man, he spoke into the mike.

Right away, there was a quick response that was right in sync with the flickering lights. "Grain Man's got ya', said the radio voice. "What's your 10-20?" asked the trooper. "I'm up on top of a grain elevator at the end of town, and I'm running 2 Kilowatts. I have to wait till the boss leaves and everyone turns off the lights to get enough power for this rig", offered the CB-er.

End of mystery. The operator had his illegal CB station hidden away on top of the grain elevator just down the street. He had enough raw RF power to light the neon bulbs in town when he pointed the beam antenna in that direction. No aliens, just a rogue citizen band radio operator running a few thousand watts instead of the allocated 5-watts.

The lesson is to look for natural phenomenon before speculating on aliens or the supernatural. Science is often stranger than science fiction.


Has the FCC confiscated his equipment and issued him a fine yet? This looks like some easy money to help the government!
Glenn Little

Submit A Comment

Comments are reviewed prior to posting. You must include your full name to have your comments posted. We will not post your email address.

Your Name

Your Company
Your E-mail

Your Country
Your Comments

Board Talk
Solder Pallets With Titanium Inserts - Yes/No?
What Rate is World Class for SMT Machines?
Selective Solder Pot Temperatures
Top Side Reflow Causing Solder Balls
Trends for Printing Ultra Miniature Chips
Should We Measure Solder Paste Thickness?
Cleaning R.F. Circuits - Aqueous or Vapor?
Why Should We Consider Smart Feeders?
Ask the Experts
SMT Target Component Placement
Problems With Large Voids
Stainless Steel Benches and ESD
Exposed Copper Defect
What's Causing Cloudy Conformal Coating
Channels To Reduce Voids in Large Pads
Options for Reballing BGA Components
Aluminum Trays and Rapid Static Discharge