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.
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.
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.
sounds like all your past experience has really
combined to create a successful small business.
Can you tell us about the product itself?
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
in Europe to accurately 'map' the research we
found on flash, flicker, fade, and interval timing
rates of specific firefly species. In fact, the
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
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
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
Lights sets that replicate some of these other
fireflies, including the amber flash
the electronic brain and the little firefly "Lanterns",
are there any other important parts to your Firefly
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
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
wire just below the firefly light be left free
to move, allowing the firefly lights to dance
gently in a breeze.
since this is an interview about the
technical aspects of your products, I'm sure
our tech savvy readers would like to hear more
Because our Firefly Magic® Lights are designed
for outdoors, we use only UL approved protective
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
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
This is an important step because it
seals the sensitive electronics from the harsh
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
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
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,
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
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.
and purchase information, Click
Here for interview on history of FIREFLY