Introduction: Desktop Terrarium With Night Light

Picture of Desktop Terrarium With Night Light

Almost every Steampunker has the same problem, to finance all the big projects in your head you must sit many hours on your desk to earn the money.
Often the office is dismal and grey. This is quietly no place for an awesome mind.
Now I invent this Desktop Terrarium who allows you to put your own exotic habitat on your desk. You can study rare plants in a perfect eye catcher setting.
And if you some weeks not in, no problem my habitat needs only a few drops of water every four month.

All you need is
- One old defect bulb (clear or matt)
- One solar power Garden LED light
- Small wooden board
- Brass or Copper tube
- Brass or Copper tin (wall clock)
- sundry brass parts
- Switch
- AAA Battery + holder

Also don't miss to visit my website with more great projects under Steampunk-Design.

Step 1: Prepare the Bulb

Picture of Prepare the Bulb

In the first step I prepare the bulb.

Attention! Please use gloves and a safety goggles…
The bulbs are very thin and there is a high risk that they broke during work.
Try to work in front of a vacuum cleaner because this will avoid that small cullet spread over the area you work in.

In the middle of the socket is a small metal plate you can lift it and pull out with a small knife.
If you remove the plate you will find a small hole in the black glass seal.
Stick a small screwdriver in this hole and break the glass. Now you can also remove it.
Now you see a small glass tube which holds the filament.
With a small plier you can also break the tube and remove all.
After this you make the hole round and enlarge it a little bit.
The glass breaks not complete because it can only brake until the glued socket.
Now you can clean the bulb with water.
You see on my pictures that I use a matt bulb. The matt colour is only a fine powder that can easily wash away with water.

Step 2: Solar Power Light

Picture of Solar Power Light

For the automatically night light I use a solar garden light.
This is the easiest way because you only need to dissemble it and make some wires longer and finally mounting all in the bulb and base tin.

Remove all screws and get the circuit with the LED out of the housing.
Cut the wires to from the solar panel to the circuit.
Cut with a cutting wheel from the Dremel the solar panel out.
Solder out the LED and solder two long wires on.
Later the circuit is placed in the base tin with the switch and battery and the LED wires goes through the brass tube to the bulb.

Drill two holes into the tin then fit the switch in one and take the wires for the solar panel out.
Take care with duct tape that no parts of the circuit has contact to the brass parts!
If you have checked all parts again you can switch the power on.
When you hold your hand above the solar panel it must switch on the light.
When the solar panel is in the light it will charge the battery.

Very important:
To bend the small brass tubes is necessary to filled it with sand!
Only if your pipes filled with fine sand you can bent the brass tubes, otherwise you pipe kink directly and is destroyed.

I filled the tubes with bird sand and sealed at the ends with electrical tape.
Then I use a brake pipe tool from Hazet (Art. Nr. 2193-1) the bent the radius.

The last picture show you an only battery powered version with a CR2032 cell.

Step 3: Chassis

Picture of Chassis

For the chassis you can use everything you find in your workshop let your mind play and create something beautifully.

At last I add some pictures of my different versions.
You are free to copy it.

Have fun with this weekend project and stay tuned on my website. I will launch an English version shortly.

Step 4: Filling

Some of you ask for the filling of the bulb.
My first Terrarium is filled with orchidaceous flower soil, white stones and moss out of the forest.
Moss is ideal for this application because it work like an anti fungal. That means if the glass is humid in the sun you get no mildew.

Another bulb is filled with fine black sand and a carapace from a prawn.

Currently I work on a very big bulb (500 Watt) I try to put sea monkeys in.


NancyG45 (author)2015-12-16

This looks so cool I can't wait to make it.


PLC55 (author)2013-09-17

Hi, I thought this was so cool, I just had to have a go. Took a while to find some worthwhile bits and pieces but it's finally all together and working, just have to add the little garden. This one uses two LED's off a double A battery, that's how the solar light came. Thanks heaps for taking the time to share your Ible, I found it very interesting and look forward to trying a few more of your projects!

CraigRJess (author)PLC552015-04-05

Really nice! Love the shiny copper too.

Where did you get the brass parts on each end of the copper and how does it stop the copper from pulling out? Did you have to flare the ends of the copper?

PLC55 (author)CraigRJess2015-07-10

Hi Craig, sorry not to have gotten back to you but I formatted and lost all my stuff (no hard copies, live and learn), anyway, I hunted around markets, second hand stores, garage sales and even a car parts shop (for a brass welsh plug to fit the cell into), took a good while to get enough bits and pieces to start it. the tube ends are all flared with plumbing fittings so they dont move or come out, welsh plug is flared and soldered.

CraigRJess (author)PLC552015-07-10

Hey no problem.... **it happens. :~)

Ok, you used a flaring tool for the ends of the copper pipe, and a Welsh plug - which part is that? Terminology may be different here.

How are you securing it into the light bulb?

PLC55 (author)CraigRJess2015-07-10

Well, here in Aust, a welsh plug is a replaceable plug (in this case, the biggest one available) for the water jacket of a car engine.

The bulb attaches to a hose connector with a thread on one end, I crushed down the rim of the metal end of the bulb and got the connector to screw in, the tube is flared so it cant come out. Heres a few pictures, thought it might help.

CraigRJess (author)PLC552015-07-11

Ok, I got you now. Makes sense. Thanks for that :~) Will have to try one for myself.

I bought that Suzuki in the avatar from up in Melbourne and used it in Tassie for a bit then sold it b4 heading home.

PLC55 (author)CraigRJess2015-07-11

Nice bike! Bet it was great riding around Tassie on that!

Yeah, have a shot at one, I really enjoyed getting mine together, a bit frustrating sometimes, going to markets etc and finding nothing I could use, but now and then I'd come across heaps of good stuff. I have even had several decent offers on it, I dont think I could part with it tho.

PLC55 (author)PLC552015-07-10

I'm in Australia btw.

CraigRJess (author)PLC552015-07-10

I lived in Tassie for a year :~)

Even saw Chopper Reid walk by the coffee shop in Hobart my pal and I were sitting at. He said, "there goes Chopper Reid" and I said, "who the HELL is Chopper Reid?" LOL Me not knowing his history, watched him walking down the street.

PLC55 (author)CraigRJess2015-07-10

I'v never been to Tassie, and I live in Melbourne, its cold enough here!

This used to be Choppers old stomping ground, he moved to Tasmania when he got out of jail for a quieter life, he passed away from cancer a while back.

CraigRJess (author)PLC552015-07-11

Ya, thats what I read from his book and the Eric Bana movie: Chopper. Eric was awesome in that movie!

Bojangles in Melbourne right?

PLC55 (author)CraigRJess2015-07-11

Bojangles (nightclub) is gone now I believe, it was in St kilda near the old sea baths.

Well done!!!


sparko118 (author)2013-06-16

hay thanks for the inspiration for this project it was fun to make
here mine

\o/ Nice... Now you are proud on yourself, right?

HrdWodFlor (author)2013-05-31

I really like this! Just a note for those who cant get fine grained sand, you can use salt or fill the tubing with water, seal the ends and freeze it before you bend it. I know that some companies that make French horns use the frozen water method to put the bends into the horn.

christopherarndt12 (author)2013-05-02

I am curious, what Diameter pipe is this? I can't quite tell by the picture.

nmvb (author)2013-01-19

Made one as a Christmas gift for my dad. Turned out great. I used a 30 watt bulb which gives a lot more room for plants. Great ible.

spylock (author)2012-12-09

That is one of the coolest things Ive ever seen,and Ive seen alot,Im old.

aclayson (author)2012-06-19

just finished building looks awesome

Nice to hear... let us see some pictures...
I am interested in!


ilpug (author)2011-12-10

This is really awesome. I would do the same thing, but with a bigger bulb, and keep it in a window to avoid having to use solar to light it.

David97 (author)2011-09-23

This looks like a bong.

ilpug (author)David972011-12-10


habrahamson (author)David972011-10-22


brentman2011 (author)2011-09-09

Will it be too much to have two AAA batteries powering the LED or is that too much?

a918bmxr (author)brentman20112011-09-28

it depends on the led...
if it is a 3 volt led then that is perfect...

VadimS (author)2011-09-21

I recommend using ruff service bulbs, thicker glass.

rbessa (author)2011-09-12

I hope you don't mind, but i refered to your lightbulb hollowing process explanation here in my instructable.

luk66 (author)2011-09-04

Perhaps I've overlooked something obvious, but I have to ask: How do you water the plants. Or more concisely how do you attach the bulb (terrarium portion) to the copper pipe. It has to be removable to water the plants doesnt it?

You will see on step 2 picture six a brass connecting nut. with the same diameter of the removed glass sealing...
here yoou can unscrew the bulb

Thanks, great ible.

rmartin15 (author)luk662011-09-06

The neat thing about terrariums is that you shouldn't have to water them very often maybe twice a month depending on it location. It should be pretty much self sustaining :)

jalbaum (author)2011-09-03

Would you sell or consign them to a store in Hancock, NY?

It's also possible to send somthing into the USA.
I have just checked the shipping cost 19€ (27$) for a insured parcel.

For further informations and offered parts visit my website and there the warehouse.

If you are still interested send me a mail via the telegram function on the website...

Where is the telegram function?

Ill jump on your site.

I send you am PM with my direct mail adress...

splazem (author)2011-09-04


tjesse (author)2011-09-02

Some gold leaf on the base of the bulb might add to the effect. But that would only be improving something that is just fine how it is! Well done.

borisvaletto (author)2011-09-02

LOVE IT! Thanks! Great inventive. Im thinking of getting a 200w bulb or something bigger have you made any bigger terrariums? gotta check out "The House of the 10,000 lamps" yeah thats the store name lol. Great job, very nice!

Moxlonibus (author)2011-09-01

Under the title of: Why didn't I think of that? or Why hasn't someone done this before? Simple, fun, awesome.

Believe me I also think this hundred times a day…

creshawn (author)2011-09-02

Where can i buy some of these parts

Hi creshawn
Bulb, Brass pipes and nuts, wood and the garden light are out of the harware store.
The brass tin is a part of an old wall clock which I got from Ebay.

rosenred (author)2011-09-02

Excellent as always! May I ask a question? How did you bend the pipe to shape? I have little experience with metal working and I am afraid I have no clue how to do that without destroying the pipe...

Ohh that`s very easy...
You can only bent small pipes without damage when they are filled with fine sand!!!
I will add this hint to the instruction.
Thanks for asking that.

The time is come... My website is also in English available!!!
Have fun with my other projects...

mary candy (author)2011-09-01

I love this kind of terrarium.

About This Instructable




Bio: Steampunk-Design builds and developed the most modern technical equipment, fine jewelry and futuristic devices implemented with funds and materials of the Victorian era.
More by Admiral Aaron Ravensdale:Steampunk Picaxe protected SketchbookWaving Key Flower a Steampunk versionSteampunk Laptop
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