LED color experiments 2019; Beyond the Sharpie

♫ a jazz rendition of Jingle Bells ♫ "Finally I had the answer.

And the answer is Sharpies.

” Nope! Welcome to the second installment of No EffortNovember.

I noticed that many of you thought, uh, thatthat moniker didn’t apply to the last video, um so for this one I’m going all in on notgoing in at all.

Also, I’m painfully aware of how my newaudio setup sounds.

I’m still working on it.


As has apparently become tradition, aroundthis time I make a video about holiday lights.

Yes, I’m a sucker for Christmas lights, I just love how festive everything becomes when we waste just that extra bit of energylighting up the neighborhood with frankly silly sums of small, shimmering string-suspendedshiny sources of sparkling light.

Since striving for savings seems sensiblesometimes, scores of stores sell some super slick se.



uh, ok that’s… that’s enough of that! LED holiday lights have become kind of a thinglately, and generally I’m all for them, but I still cannot find the multi-coloredsets to be appealing at all.

I’m getting kinda used to them, I’ll admit, but this blue is still WAY TOO BLUE and nobody’s gonna change my mind about that.

Honestly if it could just be toned down justa few notches I might not be as bothered by this as I am.

But sadly, the Blue Lobby seems to have a firm grip on the industry.

Anyway, because the Christmas light marketseems to be at odds with my desires, and my nightly ritual of projecting intense mentalenergy towards the executives in this field doesn’t seem to be working, last year Iembarked on an exhaustive series of experiments to recreate the look of colored incandescentholiday lights using warm white LEDs strands.

I had a few things I wanted to accomplish.

One was to get a set in my preferred colorscheme, which is simply red, yellow, green, and blue.

This is now the third time I’ve expressedthis grievance.

I want NONE OF THAT orange and NONE of thatPURPLE, and ESPECIALLY none of the pink or teal.


Those are Easter colors.

I also wanted to have a set of lights thatlooked more natural.

And by that I mean, a set which didn’t appearmonochromatic in nature.

Colored incandescent lights aren’t as pureas the single-wavelength emissions of our friends the diodes that emit light, and whileI’m sure many of you think I’m a weirdo for not wanting color purity, that’s justhow it’s gonna be.

Perhaps I’m simply overly nostalgic forthe lights of my childhood, or maybe I’m just right about these things, you decide.

Last year, I tried acrylic paints which … didn’twork well at all.

The blue was simply too hard to control andwas just… bad.

I also tried spray paint and… again.

Same result.

But then I thought to myself, what if sharpieswould work? So I tried sharpies.

And they worked! Except, unsurprisingly, they weren’t supercolorfast.




[ silent struggling ] [ oh you thought he was gonna talk 'cause he looked up but you wrong ] is what’s left after just 6 weeksoutside.

Not great.

Happily exposure to rain and snow seemed tohave no effect on their color at all.

It was apparently just fading caused by ultravioletradiation from that great ball of plasma in the sky.

So maybe I could make them less prone to fadingwith a UV-protective coating of some sort.

But the sharpie solution wasn’t quite perfect, either.

This blue, while certainly not as bright asthe hideous blue found in the typical strands of LED Christmas lights, still had that ratherpure look to it.

This wasn’t super surprising given thatthe LEDs are likely using blue emitters which activate a red and green phosphor to create “ white “ but it was still a little unexpected.

Perhaps it also had something to do with thespecific wavelengths the blue dye absorbs.

Also, the yellow was a little bit too muchlike highlighter yellow.

I wanted it to be just a bit toned down.

Anywho, one of the things I said I wishedexisted was a sort of transparent paint base that I could mix the blue paint into to hopefullymake it more controllable.

Well, the "fine" people of the comments sectiontold me that that does indeed exist, so on a trip to the craft store, I picked some ofthis up.

This acrylic medium looks a bit like Elmer’sglue but supposedly dries clear, so if I mix this with the blue paint, it should producenot a lighter blue, but a thinner blue.

If that makes sense.

Another thing that y’all suggested was touse transparent paints used in model making.

So, I picked some of those up, too.

Luckily they can be found in the four colorsI wanted.

And a third thing I thought I might try wasto mix the acrylic paint with … actual glue.

That dries sorta clear and maybe it wouldbe easier to control or something I don’t know I’m just spitballing here.


I first tried the acrylic medium.

I started with a very low paint-to-mediumratio, and ended up with a much paler blue than I started with.

But again, that should be fine, it will dryclear and it will just thin out.

Perfect! But, actually, no.

Not perfect at all.

Drat! The blue is still way too hard to controlthe thickness of, and with that in mind, I just abandoned this idea altogether.


I also then thought there’s no use tryingthe glue with the blue, so I abandoned that, too.


On to the transparent modelmaking paint Iguess.

And, as luck would have it, that totally works! I figured it would be easiest to dunk thebulbs into the bottle and let the excess paint drip off, but it turns out this was not onlymore difficult, but also produced worse results than just using a brush.

A little backwards from what I thought wasgonna be the case but cool.

The result is definitely superior to the sharpies.

The color is closer to what I’m trying toemulate, especially the green and the blue, and on a positive note the blue doesn’thave that weirdly pure look of the Sharpified set.

Now it’s possible that the actual LEDs arejust different on this strand, compared to the one I used Sharpies with.

In fact I’m certain they are, but I don’tthink that’s the bigger difference when it comes to the difference in blue.

But I have two slight quibbles here.

First is that the red isn’t quite transparent, and also it’s not quite as deep as I’d like.

I just picked up whatever paints the craftstore had so it could be that this transparent paint is available online in a better assortmentof colors, but honestly this is a rather minor nitpick.

A second coat (or just a thicker first coat)made the red more strongerer, and I was pretty happy.

A slightly more major nitpick is that my bottleof yellow paint appears to be really old, and it doesn’t really want to mix togetherwell it seems.

Possibly a result of that, the color of thisyellow is a bit too pale for my liking.

I really like the pop of the yellow, that’swhy I prefer yellow to orange in a set of multicolored holiday lights, but this is justa tad too bright.

I would have liked it to be a bit more towardsamber, and stupid me was about to be all like “oh well” but then I remembered that youcan mix paint together! So, I put just a tiny bit of the red in withthe yellow, and.



I got.



a… (I don't know why he’s talking like this)much.










In fact, I think these two are a comparisonright here.

No red.

Bit of red.


However, it should be noted that the paintsdidn’t mix super well, but I’m gonna chalk that down to the weirdness of this particularyellow paint.

In any case the end result was pretty good.

One thing I learned was that there doesn’tseem to be much of a point to removing all of the bulbs from the strand.

I did this thinking that A) I was going tobe dunking the bulbs in the bottles and B) that this would be easier, but it seems likeit was actually a wash.

Having them on the string itself means thatI could paint them while the strand was lit, and this gave a better idea of how the coatwas going on because, after all, the whole dang point of the exercise is to produce coloredlights and if I can’t see what the light looks like that’d be kinda dumb.

It also is useful to paint the lights in situ (how pretentious) because you can make sure you space (but he said "place", the dingus) the colors correctly.

In my case, paint one bulb, skip four… three! Paint the next one.

The fourth one.

That’s what I meant.

So you might be able to save a tiny bit oftime pulling them out and separating them into groups of 25, then painting them allin one go, but I honestly don’t know if that would be worth it.

Fun fact! I wrote the previous line before I had putall the bulbs I took out back, and now I would highly advise against it.

You see, I hadn’t realized this, but notall of the bulbs are the same.

There are a few sockets in this strand thathave three wires going to them, and the bulbs that go in there have a wider base and cannotfit in the other sockets.

However, the smaller bulbs will fit fine there.

And this caused me some headaches.

I figured it out, but this bulb is now dead(but luckily the strand is still OK).

So maybe, just leave them in.

If you are painting them on the strand, protip, use something like this portable heater to quickly dry each bulb.

You can hold it in front of the heater foras little as 10 or 15 seconds and get enough of a dry film on the top that by the timethe one you just painted reaches the floor (which is probably going to be something likethree or four bulbs later), it should be plenty dry.

An even better idea would be to bundle a bunchtogether that are going to be the same color, and paint them all at once.

Just come up with some sort of thing to holdthem with like a vice or something so you can quickly paint them, I dunno, eugh, justgiving you ide- you figure it out! So.


This went a lot more smoothly than I thoughtit was going to.

So now let’s talk about the weather.

Because this is, after all, an experiment, I decided to buy a can of UV-protective clearcoat and see how that would interact not only withthe paint, but also with the sharpies.

What I’ve done this year is make a completed strand – you can’t see it but it’s fully done – mostly colored with the transparentpaint but a few are done with sharpies on this strand, and I’m going to clearcoathalf of it.

Then, we’ll see how well it lasts throughthe season.

When I take them down, I’ll make an updateon my second channel, Technology Connextras.

That’s right, it’s now called TechnologyConnextras.

* light drop * Deal with it.

There’s a link in the description that willtake you there so you can subscribe and not miss it.

I’m hoping that they do well, and if theydo, I might set out to make a bunch of these sets.

But, here’s a better idea.

Listen up, all of you people out there whoare in charge of Christmas lights.

Can you please make this a thing? I know, here, you can sell make-you-own-colorsets! Sell the light strands without the littleclear plastic tops, and sell those separately in different colors! You can just make a ton of the same whitesets over and over and over again, and then weird pedants like me can skip the teals and thepurples and the oranges and get our preferred colors! Just sell the colored caps in 50 packs forlike $2 and you could be making a killing! Then, we just pop the tops on our sets oflights and boom! Custom sets! I bet this would even tap into some sort ofLite-Brite nostalgia! The little caps are kinda similar to Lite-Britepegs, so you just know there’s gonna be enough people who are like “aww this remindsme of my Lite-Brite!” and INSTANT PROFIT! And you could sell them all year! Now, I know you’re probably not gonna dothat, but hey, if the prospect of better sales makes you excited about giving the peoplewhat we want, I’m gonna plant that in your mind! You could revolutionize the holiday lightindustry into the decorative light industry! Mmm! And use the same factories and everything! WHY ARE YOU NOT DOING THIS? It’s a free idea, c’mon, just… like…do it! DO IT!!!!!11!! But until you do, I’ll just sit in my cornerpainting light bulbs like a madman.

The end! ♫ drums kick in ♫ Wait a minute, this isn't the usual smooth jazz! What is this blasphemy? Well, it turns out it's ♫ a jazz rendition of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas ♫ Hey! Thoughts from the Credits! I went through the comments again on lastyear’s videos and… that’s only one.

[laughs] Heugh! Hey! Thoughts from the Credits! I went through the comments on last year’svideo and there are a few things I forgot about! Someone suggested using nail polish clearcoat and tinting that with whatever colors of other nail poilish that I might I like.

I am totally gonna do that, but I’ll savethat for next year! That is, of course, unless the Christmas lightmanufacturers would fricken listen to me or my telepathic thoughts I’ve been projectingfor an hour each night before I go to bed for the last two years.

One thing that I did try was using stained-glasspaints.

Now, I used one of those goofy little kitsthat are aimed for small children, and maybe I would have had a better result going withsomething a little more legit, but that didn’t work at all.

It was way too thin and didn’t produce nearlyenough color.

I might try the real stuff next year, butmy expectations aren’t super high based upon the appearance of the products I foundin the bottles.

At the store.

That one time.

And, there were other ideas, too! But I’m not gonna spoil any more of nextyear’s video.

To everyone out there, I hope you have a veryhappy holiday season spending time with loved ones.

I’ll be back with one more video for NoEffort November, and then it’s on to the conclusion of the CED Saga.

At least I hope it’s the conclusion.

I don’t wanna have to do a part 5.

♫ the jazz! It swells! ♫ Woah, that's some snazzy saxophoning! ♫ oh no! the jazz is fading again.



♫ Well, the fine folks of the comments sectiontold me euuaghh! So if I mix this with the blue paint, it shouldproduce not only a … [ here he completely loses his train of thoughts, then shakes his head AT HIMSELF ] But hopefully this is a… honestly.

Not hopefully! We did it! We did it! I’m caught up in the Christmas… ha! Alright, those are off now so they’re notgonna start a fire.

If they did this video would be lit! Did you catch at the beginning that he wasn't wearing socks? At least he was wearing pants.




Leave a Reply