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Home made leak light - really not difficult

Chris J

Chris J

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259
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Southampton, UK
Total credit to @Stephen Howard as this is entirely his method. I just wanted to see how easy it really was to make a decent bright light. The answer is - very.

He describes this on his website here Making and using a leaklight

The background is that I overhauled a 1920s alto, a pretty little gold plated thing, about 6 months ago. All pad cups needed levelling, as did all tone holes. Corks, felts and the occasional needles. Stacks of work, with huge satisfaction of playing it when it all came together. Final tweaks could wait.

Fast forward 6 months and nipping in to see Stephen for something, I thought I would do a show and tell and let him have a blow of the alto. So I grabbed it.

How embarrassing. Sure it plays, but he threw his leak light down the tube and had a right good chuckle.

Usually setting pads by feeler gauge alone, I was guilty of convincing myself that as it seals all around, it was fine. What the leak light showed was that too much pressure was needed to seal the pad on the tone hole - contact was not simultaneous. This affects the feel, tone and general playability of the thing.

I need a leak light.

I had read Stephen’s handy hint of a home-made light, and as an electrical novice, I thought I would see how far I got.

Sure I could buy one, but where is the fun in that?

Sorry about the quality of the iPhone photos, but I thought I would do a step by step just to show how easy it is. As Stephen says in his article, though, play with electrics at your own risk! Using 12V however does reduce the risk considerably...

I'll break the thread up as I think there is a limit to the number of pictures shown in one go.
 
Chris J

Chris J

Member
Messages
259
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Southampton, UK
The opportunity started with a dead Ikea light I found in my daughter’s student flat, left by a previous resident.



It was just the bendy bit I wanted, so a junior hacksaw topped and tailed it, leaving a diameter at the top to match the bulb holder.



I found an old rusty file to make sure the cut edge was flat, andI trimmed the leads coming from the bulb holder

 
Chris J

Chris J

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259
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Southampton, UK
And threaded some wire into the bendy bit, and slipped some heat shrink tube over the wire ready for action. I soldered the wire to the bulb holder. I didn’t have the luxury to twist then together first because of a tight space in the bendy bit.



Slip up and shrink the black tubing



And fits together fine

 
Chris J

Chris J

Member
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259
Locality
Southampton, UK
At the other end of the bendy bit, I soldered the red wires sticking out from it, to exposed wires of a larger 2 wire electrical flex.



Each joint had heat shrink tubing, and then more, larger, heat shrink tubing to cover these joints and the bottom of the bendy bit.



At the other end of the heavier black flex, I soldered on an audio jack. Heat shrink to bare wire.



This will be my connection to a power source – so I put the male side with the light, as if it was on the electrical source side, it could easily short circuit by metal things on the table. I wanted a connection, so I could use the electrical source for other things, or another light. I chose an audio jack, as it is a secure connection that will not fall apart.

 
Chris J

Chris J

Member
Messages
259
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Southampton, UK
Taking a 12V power source (no idea what it was originally from), I soldered the female end of the audio jack to the wire. Heat shrink to bare wire.



Bulb slips into the bulb holder, and leak light works!



Saxophone leaks…

 
trimmy

trimmy

One day i will...
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Liverpool ( Pool of Life )
Clear and precise even a numpty like me could make one !
 
Tomasz

Tomasz

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Mount Erebus, Antarctica
I'd also read the same "how to" guide created by Stephen Howard and was impressed. However, I had already bought myself a leak-light so never bothered to make one myself. It's a pity really because I could have easily made myself a home-made leak-light which would have been at least as good at a fraction of the cost.
 
Stephen Howard

Stephen Howard

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How embarrassing. Sure it plays, but he threw his leak light down the tube and had a right good chuckle.

Usually setting pads by feeler gauge alone, I was guilty of convincing myself that as it seals all around, it was fine. What the leak light showed was that too much pressure was needed to seal the pad on the tone hole - contact was not simultaneous. This affects the feel, tone and general playability of the thing.

I'm afraid I did rather chuckle - but by way of consolation it wasn't much worse than I've seen on some 'professionally' repaired horns.
The humble old feeler gets a lot of stick, but for me it still remains the gold standard (as the micrometer is to the ruler) - though its simplicity disguises the level of skill required to use it effectively.
But together, the leaklight and the feeler form the perfect show-and-tell combination; the light shows, the feeler tells...and the more you use them in tandem, the better your 'feeler skills' will become.
 
Chris J

Chris J

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259
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Southampton, UK
Although a scathing indictment of some of the repairs you have seen by other technicians, I shall dig deep in your comments above and extract a compliment!

That alto was my second ever total overhaul of a sax, the first being that Buescher TT soprano all those years ago. I did learn a huge amount while doing it (which is a veiled code for, I made lots of mistakes). It is so different from repairing a working instrument.

I shouldn't have left it for so long to get a leak light that works.
 
jbtsax

jbtsax

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Very well constructed leak light. Now you have a useful tool and have had the fun and satisfaction of designing and constructing it yourself. You can't buy that at any price. :)
 
Alice

Alice

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I'm absolutely amazed, thank you for posting this. I have all the necessary tools from when I helped my little boy (now nearly 19) to build a robot. Now when he comes home at Christmas he can help me make a leak light.
 
Chilli

Chilli

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Cool, I might make one as mine is rather... rudimentary... Then again, I don't repair my horns.
Here's the poor man's leak light, built by my dad in 1988. The cables go through the hole of the end plug for better light proofing... The battery has been changed once but all the rest is original!
Leak light
 
saxyjt

saxyjt

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You may want to check this @Chilli for a modern alternative (led lights) or that for the guys in the Uk. Just add a piece of string to it and that should do a reasonable leak light.

The next stage will be to combine such micro lights with a micro camera and we can inspect our horns' inside too!
 
jbtsax

jbtsax

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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
You may want to check this @Chilli for a modern alternative (led lights) or that for the guys in the Uk. Just add a piece of string to it and that should do a reasonable leak light.

The next stage will be to combine such micro lights with a micro camera and we can inspect our horns' inside too!

You could even do your own colonoscopy if you like. :D
 
Targa

Targa

Among the pigeons
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I'm absolutely amazed, thank you for posting this. I have all the necessary tools from when I helped my little boy (now nearly 19) to build a robot. Now when he comes home at Christmas he can help me make a leak light.
This one?
 

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