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Enigma Lamps
An Enigma machine uses small - rather unusual - lamps for its output. These lamps have a common E10 fitting, but have a somewhat flattened balloon. The drawing below shows it side-by-side with any ordinary bulb. The one on the left is a standard E10 lamp with a round balloon. On the right are the flat-faced lamps that are required for the Enigma. There are two variants: one that is completely clear and one that is half-opaque.
 
Lamps like these were rather common before and during WWII, but have since been phased out.

The shape of the lamp is very important as ordinary lamps are slightly higher and will therefore penetrate the letter film. As the letter film is made of celluloid, it becomes brittle, and breaks and burns easily.
  

The official specification for the bulb is 3.5V/200mA, but that is not as important as the shape. Lamps in this shape are sometimes found in 2V, 2.2V and 3V versions and they can all be used. The current is rather important and should not exceed 200mA too much, as otherwise it could cause sparks when the coding wheels are moved.
 
Close-up of a real Enigma lamp Another close-up of a real lamp A collection of real lamps Lamps are sometimes packed together in a box

 
Help us find these bulbs
In order to keep the few surviving machines running we need as much lamps as we can find for current and future restoration jobs. If you have any of these lamps left, please contact us.
 
Alternative sources
  • Don's bulbs
    The 2.25V/250mA MAZDA #223 lamp is a good alternative.

  • Reproduction lamps
    A limited quantity of reproduction lamps have been made available by Glen Miranker via the enigma replica project.

Further information

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Crypto Museum. Last changed: Saturday, 28 December 2013 - 19:04 CET.
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