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LED Lighted Holiday Necktie



LED Lighted Holiday Necktie, retail $10
Manufactured for Rite-Aid Corporation (http://www.riteaid.com)
Last updated 01-10-02


LED Light



Every once in awhile something catches my eye, and not necessarily for what is, but for what I could do with it after harvesting parts from it. These holiday-themed, LED-lighted neckties were just such an article.

Sold by the Rite-Aid drugstore chain, these are 100% polyester "jackquard" print neckties, but they have a small hidden circuit board and 5 flashing LEDs strategically placed on the tie's holiday graphic. One example has the LEDs peppering a Christmas tree; another has the LEDs on a reindeer's antlers, and so on. The ties come with small Vinnic L1131 button cells already installed, and can be turned on & off by a hidden pushbutton.



The tie is supposed to come ready to use right out of the package; however all but one sample I found at the store had stone cold dead batteries right from the get-go. If you get one that works, turn the tie over and look for a small "PRESS HERE" label. The small "computer dome type" pushbutton switch is hidden under or just outside this label. Press it once to start the LEDs flashing, and press it again to turn them off.

The label on the tie says "dry clean only" but I don't think it was meant to go to the cleaners with the LEDs, circuit, batteries and all. So I'd avoid spilling your holiday eggnog on it, and especially avoid peeing on the end when you're going to the can. :-O


[image 2 L1131 cells]
The tie comes with batteries already installed in metal clip type holders on the circuit board, but chances are they'll be dead when you buy it.
So you'll have to get out a razor or a stitch ripper and cut a few stitches in order to expose the board & batteries. The bottom of the tie can easily be sewn or taped back together afterward, and nothing will show on the front unless you razored all the way through it. :)

opened for battery replacement

Use a pen or a screwdriver to push the old cells out of the holders, and install new ones with the flat (+) side facing up. Just use your finger to push them under the brackets; they are friction fit and they will stay put. Then sew up or tape up the back of the tie. Two stitches about an inch apart will do it; as will a piece of clear tape if you're in a hurry.



It's an inexpensive polyester necktie... and I don't wear ties or go to holiday parties where it might be appropriate to wear. I don't even know how to tie one. :-O
So why did I buy the silly thing?
Because of this:

disembowelled
This is the "heart" of the thing: a pseudo-random LED flasher circuit that independently controls 5 colored LEDs. In the sample I'm looking at now, there are one yellow, two green, and two red 3mm diffused LEDs poked through the fabric where pictures of Christmas bulbs on a reindeer's antlers are. Each LED blinks in its own specific pattern.

This circuit can be operated at just under 6 volts, so by cutting off the original LEDs, removing the button cell batteries, and connecting it to a 4.5 to 6 volt external battery (use a 50 ohm resistor for 6 volt operation); you can connect any kind of LED you want, including blue, white, and violet. I have done just that to embellish the steering arm of my wheelchair.



transspectral illuminator
In this picture, the orange & green LEDs are off.


TEST NOTES:
Evaluation samples were purchased at the Rite-Aid located at 4th and Pike in downtown Seattle shortly after Christmas. Sale price was $2.49 each. All but one on the store rack had dead batteries in them. Two were purchased at first; when I found out they had this nifty circuit, I went back for the rest of them. By that time, only two were left, which I promptly relieved the peg display of.
These were purchased specifically to harvest the flasher boards out of, though I may keep one intact for the sake of this website. Since I've already cannibalized one tie, I have two more to harvest, and one to keep whole for posterity.





PROS:
Novel device with valuable, pre-made circuit that can be harvested.
You can light up the next Christmas party without touching a drop of eggnog. ;-)
The price was right.


CONS:
Tie cannot be washed without removal of LEDs, wires, & circuit.
Tie must be cut open to access & change batteries.
Most samples purchased were found to have already-dead batteries installed.


          MANUFACTURER: Unknown, sold by Rite-Aid
          PRODUCT TYPE: Flashing LED Novelty Garment
          LAMP TYPE: LED, 3mm. Red, yellow, green
          No. OF LAMPS: 5
          BEAM TYPE: N/A
          SWITCH TYPE: Dome type mini-pushbutton
          BEZEL: N/A
          BATTERY: 2 L1131 Button cells
          CURRENT CONSUMPTION: Unknown, suspect less than 5mA
          WATER RESISTANT: No
          SUBMERSIBLE: No
          ACCESSORIES: Batteries
          WARRANTY: None listed
          WEIGHT: Same as regular tie




                PRODUCT RATING:

                DURABILITY: --
                BRIGHTNESS: --
                USEABILITY: --
                BATTERY LIFE: --
                BATTERY AVAILABILITY: --

                OVERALL SCORE: TBA


LED Lighted Holiday Necktie * Rite-Aid Corp (http://www.riteaid.com)



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