What are these weird doodads on lamp posts? (photos)

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scarecrovv
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What are these weird doodads on lamp posts? (photos)

Postby scarecrovv » Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:29 am UTC

A group of us were driving out of Boston on the southeast expressway when we noticed these weird doodads on lampposts. I later went back and found pictures of them on google street view, but googling "street lamp doodad" doesn't turn up any helpful results. Can you help us identify these things?
lamp-parallel.png
The most common form of the doodad.

lamp-perpendicular.png
They can also be placed perpendicular to the lamp post.

lamp-droopy.png
An alternative form of the doodad, long and droopy.

overhead-sign.png
They also occasionally appear on overhead signs.

We came up with various ideas, but none of them seem likely:
1. Maybe they're antennas that broadcast diagnostic info from the lamps to passing utility vehicles, but that doesn't explain the ones we saw on overhead signs. Some of the signs with doodads had no visible electronics on them at all, with the possible exception of the doodads themselves.
2. Maybe they're handles for tightening cables that form part of the structure of the lamp or sign. That doesn't seem likely though.
3. Maybe they're some sort of attachment point for ladders for maintenance crews. They're not on all the lamps though, and I'd expect something like that to be deployed more uniformly.

Any ideas?

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Flumble
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Re: What are these weird doodads on lamp posts? (photos)

Postby Flumble » Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:53 am UTC

The "long and droopy doodads" look like they are dampers. Dampers can be used to counter-act the swinging of the lamp posts when there's a stiff breeze. (like bridges, trees, tall buildings and other structures, lamp posts have a characteristic frequency at which they swing back and forth)

Scratch that, all of the designs exactly match those of the Stockbridge dampers. And the wikipedia has a precise and concise explanation of those things.

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scarecrovv
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Re: What are these weird doodads on lamp posts? (photos)

Postby scarecrovv » Mon Dec 01, 2014 3:22 am UTC

We also considered that they might be mechanical dampers, but they didn't seem big enough. You're probably right though, and while the wikipedia article only mentions their use on cables, this google books search result does say they're used on lamp posts. Thanks!

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mathmannix
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Re: What are these weird doodads on lamp posts? (photos)

Postby mathmannix » Tue Dec 02, 2014 3:05 pm UTC

Maybe they're sensors to determine if it's dark enough for the lamp to come on?
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.DL
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Re: What are these weird doodads on lamp posts? (photos)

Postby .DL » Tue Dec 02, 2014 8:09 pm UTC

Sensors are certainly possible!!!! But again, you'd expect to see those universally then, or at least more often....
So the dampers seems more likely for sure,

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Re: What are these weird doodads on lamp posts? (photos)

Postby Adacore » Thu Dec 04, 2014 11:52 pm UTC

If they were sensors, I'd expect them to be an awful lot smaller. A light sensor doesn't need to be a fist-sized thing on a metal rod. It can be a few millimeters across and attached directly to the fixture.

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Re: What are these weird doodads on lamp posts? (photos)

Postby Seven » Sat Dec 06, 2014 3:08 am UTC

Flumble wrote:...all of the designs exactly match those of the Stockbridge dampers. And the wikipedia has a precise and concise explanation of those things.
scarecrovv wrote: this google books search result does say they're used on lamp posts. Thanks!
Fascinating!!
 
Dunning–Kruger wrote:"The miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others".


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