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Old 10/24/2007, 11:44 PM   #1
Corndork2
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DIY: How to get a 175w MH ballast and Mogul socket for under $50!..pic heavy

This tutorial will show you how to harvest a M57 ballast and mogul socket from a very common and inexpensive outdoor lighting fixture. This particular fixture can be found at anyone’s local Home Depot or Lowes. It may also be available in other stores but those are the two that I know definitely carry it. The benefit of this project is that the materials are readily available and extremely more cost effective if you’re willing to do a little handy work.
The M57 ballast is a magnetic ballast that will support 175 watt Metal Halide bulbs. I am not sure of an entirely complete list of bulbs that it will support, but I know that this ballast is capable of powering XM, Iwasaki, Hamilton, Coralvue, Ushio, and Coralife lamps, as well as most other 175 watt lamps produced by major manufactures.

First off…the legal business:

DISCLAIMER: The components that one will come into contact with when attempting this project can be dangerous, harmful, or even deadly if the proper safety precautions are not taken. This article is provided strictly on an informational basis. I am not responsible for, nor do I assume any liability for, damages resulting from the use of any information contained in this article. Please, if you do not have some electronics experience, do not attempt this project for your own safety.

Materials:
1 – Regent 175w MV Security Lighting Fixture
1 – 8ft 16 Gauge power cord
1- Box of electrical caps. The orange ones are the perfect size for this gauge of wire

All this stuff can be bought for under $35

Tools Needed:
Phillips Screwdriver
Pliers or Socket Wrench with a variety of small sockets
Wire cutters
Wire stripper or scissors

Ok, now let’s get our hands dirty.

This is what the box will look like in the store. It’s a simple outdoor mercury vapor security lighting fixture. I got mine for 24.88.


This is everything you will get out of the box. The main steel fixture, a cheap reflector, a 175w MV bulb (it’s useless for our tanks but it’s nice to keep around to test your ballast) a CDS cell, and some mounting hardware.


You can toss everything but the main steel fixture. The ballast and socket we want are mounted in there. All that needs to be done is a little surgery, and a little rewiring.


First flip the fixture upside down and take a look inside.


Here’s the pay dirt. One M57 Ballast, and one Mogul socket


Now take a look at the bracket holding on the socket. Notice it is held on by two bolts. The first thing we need to do is remove those bolts.



Here’s what you should have thus far...


Now take a look at that beige circular socket that has the red, white, and black wires going into it.


Next cut the white wire, and the red wire as close to the white socket as you can.



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Old 10/24/2007, 11:45 PM   #2
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Now look at the bracket holding the ballast onto the top of the fixture. It looks a lot like the bracket that is attached to the mogul socket, and it is attached in the same way. There are two bolts holding the ballast retaining bracket to the housing. Remove those two bolts.


After the mogul socket bracket unbolted, the ballast retaining bracket unbolted and the wires to the beige socket are cut, you can remove the entire ballast/socket assembly from the fixture housing.


Next we’re going to take a look at the mogul socket. The socket bracket is still attached to the socket, and we will have to remove it.


If you look down into the socket you’ll notice two silver screws. Remove these screws to remove the bracket. Not all screwdrivers will fit into the slot in the socket that leads to these mounting screws, so be sure to have a small to medium sized Phillips head driver around to help you out.


What you should have now:


Now separate the mogul socket from the ballast by cutting the black and white wires that connect them. Cut the wire at about half length point between the socket and ballast. You’ll need that inch or two of wire length on the ballast and socket to work with later on.


You’ll notice there is extra length of white wire attached to the socket that we don’t need. Cut the excess off.


Strip the ends of the black, red, and white wires coming from the ballast


Now you’ll need to use the 16 gauge power cord. Cut the cord in half, or in two different lengths. You will need the length with the power plug to power the ballast, and the other length of 16 gauge wire to run from the ballast to the socket.



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Old 10/24/2007, 11:47 PM   #3
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There are three wires coming from the power cord; white, green, and black.


Strip the black and white wires from the length of power cord with the plug attached to it. We won’t strip the green on right now as we won’t be using it until we mount our ballast in its casing later on.


Now take the black wire from the power cord and connect it to the red wire of the ballast with a cap.


Next take a look at the length of 16 gauge cable that did not have the power cord on it.


Cut the green wire off of the cable. It’s not needed.


Then strip the black and white wires.



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Old 10/24/2007, 11:47 PM   #4
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Now connect the black wire of that cord, to the black wire on the ballast with an electrical cap.


Then look at the white wires. There are three of them. One from the ballast, one from the power cord, and one from the other 16 gauge length of cord. Connect all three white wires together with an electrical cap.


Next, strip the wires connected to the mogul socket.


Take the length of cable coming from the ballast that doesn’t have the power plug on it and strip the ends so there are only the black and white wires. Then connect the white wire on the cord, to the white wire of the socket with an electrical cap.


Then connect the black wire on the cord to the black wire on the socket with an electrical cap.

All done with the socket!

Testing the wiring of the ballast and the socket:


This was tested with a 6500k GE 175w MH lamp. It’s a good idea to test the unit at this stage before it’s dropped into an enclosure.

The enclosure will be the next update to this thread. Don’t worry it will be here in a day or two, and it like the rest of this project can be purchased at the local Home Depot or Lowes.

I hope this was at least some what informative. As long as basic safety measures are taken (use common sense with high voltage) this project is very easy. If there are any questions, comments, suggestions, or problems don’t hesitate to ask.

Soon to come: Dropping this ballast into an all metal enclosure


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Old 10/25/2007, 12:05 AM   #5
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Absolutely AWESOME....im watching this one..thanks for the info


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Old 10/25/2007, 07:41 AM   #6
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I have a couple of questions already..... may be dumb but I have to ask...

I went a slightly different route and purchase a ballast kit from the local elec supply store.

The kit came with a capacitor.... I see your ballast does not have one... Why? What is the capacitor for?

Number two,.... Is a mercury vapor and metal halide ballast the same? Any differences?


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Old 10/25/2007, 08:38 AM   #7
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The capacitor that you have may actually be an igniter. Certain bulbs require an ingniter to fire up, however most MH bulbs have the igniter built into them, therefore we dont need one. Also all MV ballasts will not support MH bulbs. This MV ballast happens to be a M57. That perticular ballast can power 175w MV lamps, as well as 175w MH lamps.


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Old 10/25/2007, 08:51 AM   #8
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wow... this is great. This along with building my own reflector (I need to dig up that DIY now... and woot!! Nice work... BTW lets keep this a lil quiet til I can get the parts.


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Old 10/25/2007, 09:00 AM   #9
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Here is the link to the reflector I want to build:

http://www.reefdiversity.com/DIYPage...ectorIndex.htm


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Old 10/25/2007, 10:16 AM   #10
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Dont waste your time/money trying to build a reflector. Just buy one. The reflector is by far the most imporant part of your lights. Chincing out and trying to DIY your are almost 100% gaurenteed to create a much lower quality reflector and thus your performance will be substandard. Do the rest of the DIY lighting to your hearts content!


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Old 10/25/2007, 10:26 AM   #11
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That reflector that he wants to make is the only one worth building. All the others will be a waste of time and money. I made 2 of these reflectors for around $40. They are amazing.


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Old 10/25/2007, 10:41 AM   #12
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Corndork-

I've been looking for fixtures to part out, this is great, thanks!

Any chance you could take a pic of the label on the ballast?

Thanks,
Ben


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Old 10/25/2007, 10:56 AM   #13
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All my M57 ballasts have a capacitor.

SteveU


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Old 10/25/2007, 10:56 AM   #14
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Do they make this in a 250w version?

Great Idea and thread!!!

Thanks,
Aaron


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Old 10/25/2007, 11:57 AM   #15
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I remember this being done years ago.... but , here's the catch, it only fired a FEW select bulbs ... by few i mean 1 bulb that i can remember, it was a 6500k bulb as well. It would not fire all MH bulbs, and sorry to say , i do not believe MH bulbs come with caps built in, I have yet to see one that does.

MH ballasts usually come with the core, igniter and cap... M57's usually core and cap



A m57 will only run a handful of bulbs, and that is with a cap. Not sure what the non cap version can run. Either way it's a good find



Last edited by jman77; 10/25/2007 at 12:06 PM.
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Old 10/25/2007, 12:23 PM   #16
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All MH ballasts, except the Fcan ballast where the CAP is integrated in the ballast, have a CAP. Post up a pic of the wiring diagram on the ballast. I don't see how it fired the lamp w/o a CAP.


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Old 10/25/2007, 12:31 PM   #17
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great write up so far.!!

I'll be following this one for sure.


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Old 10/25/2007, 12:52 PM   #18
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Ive used these ballasts for quite some time, and have used this exact ballast 4 times including this one. Every time it has fired whatever 175w MH bulb with an internal igniter. It may not be the best solution, but it works for a college guy on a budget like myself.


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Old 10/25/2007, 12:54 PM   #19
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Also the wiring diagram on the bottom of the ballast doesnt show a capacitor. Ill post up a pic once I finish the enclosure and post the rest of the how to


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Old 10/25/2007, 01:28 PM   #20
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What brand and model ballast is it? It doesn't have a CAP on it. A FCan ballasts looks like a big fluorescent tube type ballast. Have you run any type of aquarium lamp on it yet? I get all my ballasts for free and they all come with a CAPs. I am intrigued. There has to be an explanation. The CAP is used to initially strike the arc in the tube. I guess I can call one of our engineers and ask.


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If my phaser discharges off by as little as .06 terra watts, it would cause a cascading exothermal inversion.

Current Tank Info: 65 Reef
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Old 10/25/2007, 05:59 PM   #21
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I did a DIY MH ballast, I found that a metal case to house it costs at least $25, so you really aren't saving much money.


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Old 10/25/2007, 07:06 PM   #22
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Cool find corndork! Keep us updated.


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Old 10/25/2007, 09:20 PM   #23
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looking good! you'll have to keep us updated. I might have to build one for my freshwater tank. Thanks a lot. I"m following along!


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Old 10/25/2007, 11:02 PM   #24
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The lamp in the test picture looks to be a mercury vapor lamp because the arc length is too long for it to be a 175-watt metal halide lamp. GE does not manufacture a 6500K MH lamp.

The ballast inside the Regent and other brand 175-watt MV security lights are a normal power factor high reactance autotransformer (HX-NPF) ANSI H39 mercury vapor ballast. These are not even close electrically to an ANSI M57 metal halide ballast. The HX-NPF ballast is commonly used in these mercury vapor lights because of size and cost of materials to manufacture them.

Mercury vapor ballasts (constant wattage autotransformer CWA and high reactance HX) are considered electrically not compatible with metal halide lamps. The open circuit voltage (OCV) for a 175-watt mercury vapor ANSI H39 HX ballast is too low to reliably start/ignite ANSI M57 spec 175-watt metal halide lamps.

Generally almost all ANSI M57 ballasts are CWA type and always have a high power factor because of the capacitor. The capacitor in this type of system is used only for lamp regulation and power factor correction. The ballast coil voltage is peaked for lamp starting. CWA mercury vapor ballasts use the capacitor for peaking the OCV to start the lamp. Metal halide lamps are not compatible with peaking capacitor systems but this does not apply to this thread.

Usually if you use a metal halide (ANSI M57 spec) lamp on any mercury ballast circuit the lamp will have difficulty starting and staying lit during the warm up phase. The arc usually becomes unstable and the ballast can not support the electrical discharge. This may not be a problem at first but will become apparent once the lamp ages. The mercury ballast has a higher secondary short circuit current and lower OCV than metal halide lamps are designed for. Another difference is the current crest factor (CCF). Mercury vapor lamps can a handle a higher CCF than metal halide lamps. If a lamp is operated with a higher CCF than the maximum rating the lamp will wear out quickly (excessive electrode wear).

Mercury Vapor ANSI H39 Ballast Specification
Open Circuit Voltage: 225-255OCV
Secondary Short Circuit Current: 2.0-3.6A
Current Crest Factor: 2.0CCF Max

Metal Halide ANSI M57 Ballast Specification
Open Circuit Voltage: 285-320OCV
Secondary Short Circuit Current: 1.5-1.9A
Current Crest Factor: 1.8CCF Max

The specifications listed above are general ballast ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standards manufacturers follow.

However mercury vapor lamps are compatible with probe start metal halide ballasts of the same wattage. This is why most probe start metal halide ballasts are rated and labeled for metal halide and mercury vapor (example: ANSI M57/H39).


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Old 10/25/2007, 11:50 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by PaulErik
The lamp in the test picture looks to be a mercury vapor lamp because the arc length is too long for it to be a 175-watt metal halide lamp. GE does not manufacture a 6500K MH lamp.

The ballast inside the Regent and other brand 175-watt MV security lights are a normal power factor high reactance autotransformer (HX-NPF) ANSI H39 mercury vapor ballast. These are not even close electrically to an ANSI M57 metal halide ballast. The HX-NPF ballast is commonly used in these mercury vapor lights because of size and cost of materials to manufacture them.

Mercury vapor ballasts (constant wattage autotransformer CWA and high reactance HX) are considered electrically not compatible with metal halide lamps. The open circuit voltage (OCV) for a 175-watt mercury vapor ANSI H39 HX ballast is too low to reliably start/ignite ANSI M57 spec 175-watt metal halide lamps.

Generally almost all ANSI M57 ballasts are CWA type and always have a high power factor because of the capacitor. The capacitor in this type of system is used only for lamp regulation and power factor correction. The ballast coil voltage is peaked for lamp starting. CWA mercury vapor ballasts use the capacitor for peaking the OCV to start the lamp. Metal halide lamps are not compatible with peaking capacitor systems but this does not apply to this thread.

Usually if you use a metal halide (ANSI M57 spec) lamp on any mercury ballast circuit the lamp will have difficulty starting and staying lit during the warm up phase. The arc usually becomes unstable and the ballast can not support the electrical discharge. This may not be a problem at first but will become apparent once the lamp ages. The mercury ballast has a higher secondary short circuit current and lower OCV than metal halide lamps are designed for. Another difference is the current crest factor (CCF). Mercury vapor lamps can a handle a higher CCF than metal halide lamps. If a lamp is operated with a higher CCF than the maximum rating the lamp will wear out quickly (excessive electrode wear).

Mercury Vapor ANSI H39 Ballast Specification
Open Circuit Voltage: 225-255OCV
Secondary Short Circuit Current: 2.0-3.6A
Current Crest Factor: 2.0CCF Max

Metal Halide ANSI M57 Ballast Specification
Open Circuit Voltage: 285-320OCV
Secondary Short Circuit Current: 1.5-1.9A
Current Crest Factor: 1.8CCF Max

The specifications listed above are general ballast ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standards manufacturers follow.

However mercury vapor lamps are compatible with probe start metal halide ballasts of the same wattage. This is why most probe start metal halide ballasts are rated and labeled for metal halide and mercury vapor (example: ANSI M57/H39).
So does this mean that what he built will work, or won't work? Is it worth building to use?
Thanks
Spleify


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