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Does a Xenon flash tube have a limited life?

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Well-Known Member
I have a 30 yr old factory made strobe light that use to work good. It plugs into 120 VAC and has a knob to adjust flash speed from about 2 flashes per second to about 1 flash every 15 seconds. These days it flashes only when it feels like it just have to watch and wait it may take 2 minutes or 15 minutes to flash then maybe it will flash again 10 seconds later. I have tested all the parts on the circuit board and the variable resistor too they all test good. Even though parts test good I replaced the electrolytic capacitors and that has not fixed the problem. It has an small hand wound looking auto transformer I want to call a jewel thief circuit this is probably the trigger for the flash tube. Last but not least is the flash tube it is strange that it flashes at such crazy random times. It is a U shape flash tube 3/16" diameter and about 2" long if the U could be straightened out.
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Active Member
Yes, they do get tired. If it is a tiny xenon tube, it can be replaced with one canibalized from a disposable camera.
Or, let me know size. I have several, if you are lucky will mail free.

Nigel Goodwin

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Most Helpful Member
Yes, they are rating for only a relatively small number of flashes - replacing them with camera ones is only a short term solution, as camera ones are rated for a much shorter number of flashes (due to their very low usage).

I was given two stage strobes a number of years ago, they had been scrapped because the tubes had worn out - I simply replaced the tubes and they work perfectly now.

I did approach the manufacturer, and they were stupidly expensive, but I was able to easy find the exact same tube at much lower cost as a generic replacement.

dr pepper

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Most Helpful Member
I have a couple of tubes salvaged, both the U ones and the spiral higher power ones, life cycle depends on flash energy and tube rating, a few 1000 flashes to a few hundred thousand or so.
If you look inside the tube there are 3 electrodes, 2 inside the glass, one of these is the anode and the other cathode, cant remember which one now but one will be larger, and have wire wrapped around it, or will be made from a tube, this gets sputtered away making it harder for the arc to jump across, increasing the drive voltage or trigger voltage might compensate for a while, but these things are a bit like crt's once they start to go game over.
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