Firefly Magic History

"I don't think I've ever met a person who didn't love the flickering, flashing, and glow of fireflies. Some folks have the good fortune to live in a place where they can..."



 


There are more than 2000 species of fireflies in the World and we've collected a wide variety of resources for kids and adults to learn more about these wonderful 'bugs'.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visit us on Froogle - Google's new Search Engine for wise Internet Shoppers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catching Fireflies in a mayonnaise jar has always been a favorite of children on a warm Summer's evening.

 

 

 

 

In a recent interview, Stephen Taylor, inventor of the Firefly Magic® Lights, and Company President, shared the history of how they came about. During that interview he also agreed to do a follow-up on the technical details of the Firefly Magic® Lights. Below is that follow-up.

INTERVIEWER: Stephen, here we are again. Last time we met, you gave us the background and history of Firefly Magic® Lights. But this time we'd like to dig into the actual workings of this unique product and also go on a tour to see how they're made. Before we do that, I know our readers would be interested in your background and what led you to develop a completely new product and start a successful small business.

TAYLOR: Well, it started a long time ago in high school with a very knowledgeable electronics shop teacher, Mr. Don Brockaway. Transistors and printed circuit boards were pretty new in 1960, but he actually had us designing our own circuits and etching PC boards. That background gave me a great opportunity with 3M Company where I worked in the area of electronics and semiconductors for 15 years. Later I joined a leading company which produced semiconductor manufacturing materials, and that allowed me to visit major assembly plants around the world including IBM, Texas Instruments, Motorola, Intel, and many more. Eventually, I had the opportunity to start my own business and apply all the 'best practices' I'd learned over the previous years. That included product design, research and development, manufacturing, and perhaps most important, quality control - which means customer satisfaction.

INTERVIEWER: It sounds like all your past experience has really combined to create a successful small business. Can you tell us about the product itself?

TAYLOR: First, one of the most important factors of our Firefly Magic® success is technology. Without the advances in digital, opto-electronics, and chemistry we couldn't make these high quality products that so accurately recreate the look of Mother Nature's fireflies.

We've worked very hard to develop these life-like electronic firefly lights that technically sophisticated and unique, so much so have a patent filing. Basically, the 'brains' of our Firefly Magic® Lights are high speed microprocessors running at 20 mHz and programmed with over two-thousand lines of hand written code. The copyrighted program code was written by a specialist in Europe to accurately 'map' the research we found on flash, flicker, fade, and interval timing rates of specific firefly species. In fact, the program generates a randomized pattern that will not duplicate itself in over 100,000 flashes. This creates the wonderful anticipation of fireflies lighting randomly, just like Mother Nature's real fireflies.

Another critical component of our Lights is the tiny firefly "Lantern". This is the small area on a real firefly that glows using the process of bioluminescence. Again, our research came up with a man-made replica of the firefly "Lantern" in both size and color. Firefly Magic® Lights use 3 mm diffused light emitting diodes operating at a dominant wavelength of 565-570 nanometers and a maximum spectrum bandwidth of 30 nanometers. This very accurately duplicates the emission spectra of several species of Arthropoda: Insecta: Coleoptera: Lampyridae: Photinus which are located on both the East Coast and in the Mid-West United States.

However, since there are over two thousand species of fireflies in the world, we have recently added several new Firefly Magic® Firefly Lights sets that replicate some of these other species of fireflies, including the amber flash of Pyractomena.

INTERVIEWER: Besides the electronic brain and the little firefly "Lanterns", are there any other important parts to your Firefly Magic® Lights?

TAYLOR: Actually there are. The way we look at it, every component must be the best to insure the total system works correctly for years.

We use from 52 to 86 feet of wire in each Firefly Magic® Light set to connect each of the individual 'fireflies' to the microprocessor unit. If just one of those wires were to go bad, then a firefly doesn't light and our customers wouldn't get their money's worth. So after a lot of research and testing we selected a high grade, tough jacketed, UL approved, outdoor sunlight resistant wire. But in addition, we choose a wire that's dark brown in color so it blends extremely well with most landscaping, AND it can easily be formed to wrap around stems and branches of plants. We also suggest that about 6" of wire just below the firefly light be left free to move, allowing the firefly lights to dance gently in a breeze.

INTERVIEWER: Stephen, since this is an interview about the technical aspects of your products, I'm sure our tech savvy readers would like to hear more details.

TAYLOR: Certainly. Because our Firefly Magic® Lights are designed for outdoors, we use only UL approved protective sleeves where each light attaches to its wire. Besides being UL rated, these sleeves are also resistant to water, fungus, and UV light.

The electronics 'housing', where the printed circuit board, microprocessor, and other components are held, is also UL rated. In fact, this may be a good time to go out and see where Firefly Magic® Lights are made.

INTERVIEWER: That sounds like a good idea, let's go.

TAYLOR: Here are the 'housings' I was talking about and you can see down inside each one is a printed circuit board with all the components already mounted and the wires attached. These are setting on what we call a fixture, ready to have the waterproofing material poured inside to permanently seal each unit.

This is an important step because it seals the sensitive electronics from the harsh outdoor environment. We also use a material that reduces the shear stress on the sensitive components as temperatures change from season to season, remembering again that these Firefly Magic® Firefly Lights are designed to operate year round, whether in the Arizona Summer or Minnesota Winter.

INTERVIEWER: I see a lot of little parts on the printed circuit boards. Can you give us an idea of what they do?

TAYLOR: The units you see in this area are designed to attach to a customer's existing landscape lighting system powered by a UL approved 12 Volt AC low voltage landscape lighting transformer. Since the microprocessor and firefly lights use DC (Direct Current) to operate, we must first convert the AC to DC using a device called a bridge rectifier. The next step is to very accurately control the voltage level to the components, and for that we use that small square device called a voltage regulator.

Of course you see a number of other parts on these printed circuit boards (PCBs) including capacitors, resistors, crystals, resonators, LED power indicator, and of course the 'brain'. . . the high performance RISC CPU microprocessors.

INTERVIEWER: I notice that everything is very clean and neat in this area. Is this really necessary?

TAYLOR: We always want to err on the side of quality. I guess another way to say that is, "It's better to be safe than sorry." We give a full one (1) year limited warranty with all our Firefly Magic® Firefly Light products and we do everything in our power to make sure they work correctly and for a very long time. That's why we invest the extra effort in the parts we use, and the way we assemble them in our United States manufacturing facility.

INTERVIEWER: Thank you very much Stephen. If our readers want more information about your products, or if they would like to order Firefly Magic® Firefly Lights for their own yards, how do they go about doing that.

TAYLOR: There are three ways they can contact us. First they can place an order at our Website which is www.FireflyMagic.com. They can also send an e-mail to , or they can call us on our toll free number, 1-877-8-FIREFLY.

-----------------------------------------------

For pricing and purchase information, Click Here.

Click Here for interview on history of FIREFLY MAGIC® Lights

 

© 2009 FIREFLY MAGIC® - All rights reserved.