Introduction: Electronic Organism Diverts Attention With Pretty Light, Steals Joules

Picture of Electronic Organism Diverts Attention With Pretty Light, Steals Joules

Mischievous little organism distracts with bright light while stealing joules from batteries, especially ones thought to be dead! Trap one and rest easy knowing your batteries have been squeezed out of every drop. Careful! It has a talent for shining it's bright light at you, which at the right angle could be blinding, or mildly annoying.

suitable for nimble fingers and and a good work ethic!

Step 1: Internal Organs

Picture of Internal Organs

Time to obtain body parts:
1 x Prototype board (cut down to 2cm x 2cm square)
insulated wire ( in exotic colours!)
1 x Ferrite core
1 x 1K resistor
1 x 2N3904 transistor
1 x Superbright LED (blue or white)
1 x single AA battery holder
thin PVC sheeting (for observation box)

Step 2: Make a Heart!

Picture of Make a Heart!

Now if this little creatures body is going to work, it'll need something to pump life into it!
using to contrasting strands of insulated wire, wrap together around the ferrite core. When it's filled up (about 8 turns) twist together two alternate wires from each side.

Step 3: Transplant...

Picture of Transplant...

-Fix the three wires (veins) coming from the core into the prototype board (our skeleton).
-Add the resistor to the board, soldering one of it's leads to one of the single leads coming off the core.
-Insert the transistor into the board. Attach the other resistor lead to the middle transistor lead.
-insert the LED through the middle of the core and through the prototype board.
-With the positive (longer lead) side of the LED on the right facing the flat side of the transistor, solder the outside transistor leads to the LED leads.
-Solder the remaining single wire coming off the core to the positive LED lead.
-Solder the negative battery holder wire to the negative LED (flat side) lead.
-Solder the positive battery wire to the double wire off the core.

Step 4: Contain Your Organism!

Picture of Contain Your Organism!

Better contain your creature so it doesn't sneak away...
-Make up a net: this one was length: 60mm x height: 30mm x width: 35 mm
A bit bigger than a match box.
-Use a scalpel to cut out of PVC and lightly score the fold lines.

Step 5: Make an Army!

Picture of Make an Army!

Be careful, they have a way of finding each other! Together their light is even more momentarily distracting, but think of all the batteries to be cleaned!


GitarGr8 (author)2010-12-15

Kinda look like robot eyeballs. Nice job, but the engineer side of me cringes in your lack of an electrical schematic. I know it's an easy circuit and all, but the point of an instructable is to make it easy for someone to learn how to make things. /soapbox

madrobot3600 (author)2010-12-05

this is probably a very stupid question....but do you need the ferrite core?

GitarGr8 (author)madrobot36002010-12-15

In case you haven't found an answer yet, you absolutely need the ferrite core, it's a main ingredient in creating a "joule theif".

Wesley666 (author)2009-08-28

Sorry I thought the title said Electronic "Orgasm" and was like WTF! They let you publish that...but then I was like oh....Organism...

BlondGuy101 (author)2009-08-06

Why is it that the LED must be white or blue only? All the other instuctables and other sources also mention that, but none say why so far as I can see. Also, where can I salvage the requsite transistor and resistor? I'd like to make one but my electronics shop doesn't stock those so far as I know. I prefer to salvage anyway. Thanks in advance for your consideration

zimmemic25 (author)2009-04-28

i have a few questions: what do i need the ferrite cote for? i think its a coil, but why do we use it? couldn't i just add a resistor&LED; to a battery for the same effect? can you tell a bit more about wiring the coil? i didnt really understand which wires to solder to which parts

spline9 (author)zimmemic252009-05-15

Its called a Joule Thief. A clever little circuit. Look here for more details and excellent instructions;<br/><a rel="nofollow" href=""></a><br/>The Make vid is the first link in the article. <br/>

petitjosdu91 (author)2009-04-22

Can you please tell me where do your ferrites cores come from? I only found some really little ones on an old radio poste, and don't know where to find biggers =s. It makes a really nice joule thief.<br/>

dagenius (author)petitjosdu912009-04-22

many times you can find really big ones in computer power supplies, but cd players, radios, etc. also have them.

ReCreate (author)dagenius2009-04-24

Oh so what i found is a ferrite?

dagenius (author)ReCreate2009-04-26

what did you find?

ReCreate (author)dagenius2009-04-26

Its a ring of a metal-ish material...It Came From a PSU and Had coil wrapped around it...there where like 5 cables coming out of it,that where connected to the looked allot like what is in those pictures

dagenius (author)ReCreate2009-04-28

Yeah, it is a ferrite. I found a few itty bitty ones in a cd player. these small ones can be used in ultra-dense versions of this exact circuit, and people put thes tiny circuits in torch lamp cases, to make joule theif led lamps, that fit into old-school torches.

ReCreate (author)dagenius2009-04-28

Ah,good. I got it wrapped in coil the right way now,now,i need to get that transistor

osgeld (author)sysadmn2009-04-26

yes fluorescent lamp ballast (probally not large ones inside of CF's tho)

high powered stereo equipment can have them measured in inches

computers motherboards (stop those numbskulls from tossing that PII in the dumpster)

power supplies

or most electronics that can be found at the Goodwill or similar thrift shops (i love goodwill, 2$ for a 1990 power amp = loads of parts)

also most computer cables have ones that are more cylindrical, like that big chunk of plastic @ the end of a vga cable, ... most of those are considered chokes to help suck out weak interference but its the same material. Cut it up with a hack saw and 1 old vga cable might produce 4-8 cores

petitjosdu91 (author)osgeld2009-04-27

Thanks a lot, I found a really big one on an USB cable, but not on stereo equipement (I only have a (very) little radio poste) and don't have any computer screen right here, so I won't dimount one for a long . Moreover, I don't know if it's because I'm french, but I opened up two transfos (or power amps), one with a french plug (230 V - 50Hz), the other with the USA plug (don't know the spec.). On the Usa's one, there was a lot of electronic parts, but not on the french one, and it was the same for Fluorescent lights : Mine don't have any ferrite cores.

bobbonought (author)petitjosdu912009-04-27

you can get a huge one on a computer screen, it is wrapped around the glass tube just under all the circuitry.

hominid (author)petitjosdu912009-04-22

I've seen these available at Dick Smith Electronics (Au) but in USA I suppose that Radioshack would be the same. If all fails they are in the base of compact fluoro lights. Cheers, Hominid.

petitjosdu91 (author)hominid2009-04-24

Yes, all fails I just found some ferrite sheets inf form of "E" (that are assembled with some glue and make aferrite core) and them in the radio are too little ones. I'll see what are "fluoro lights" (I'm french and didn't understood) but really thank you for your help All

hominid (author)2009-04-26

I get the impression that folks think that bigger is better w.r.t. toroids, but the whole point is to miniaturise by using the tiniest ferrite cores you can get.

osgeld (author)hominid2009-04-27

it doesnt really matter on the size, its the windings and the length of wire need to step down 120v to 5v then maybe you need some of the cores we have here at work, which measure ~7 inches in diameter and 5 inches tall need to make a joule thief, well above could work ... maybe but its a lot of wasted wire for the exact same effect

osgeld (author)2009-04-26

Ya know for a first instructable you did a lot of things right, you have nice clear pictures, and a interesting topic (eventho it boils down to the age old joule thief) but there is some things missing, like a schematic, possible resources for parts, and maybe some theoretical workings but if you smooth over these easy to fix things and keep up the good work, I can see some really kickin "ables" comming from you if it makes you feel better, ive only posted 3 (out of the 7 i have pictures for) and the first one was a total flop, the second one was a massive success (imo) and the third , while rushed to meet a contest deadline along with the bad writeup and semi complicated subject did pretty well what im trying to say is keep at it, if you find these things fun, you can only get better

geeklord (author)2009-04-26

This might help some people out a bit.

raykholo (author)geeklord2009-04-26

yep i was just going to ask if there was one thanks

Sandisk1duo (author)2009-04-26

add a schematic

tranoxx (author)2009-04-26

could you add pictures of what your soldering to what

hominid (author)2009-04-23

Catherine,...You have been busy ...judging by the last festive picture. I like!

petitjosdu91 (author)2009-04-23

Oh thank you, I've dismounted an old portable computer, a radio and a cd player, but I just found some little ones. But I didn't think to Power supplies, thank you very much I'll try right now.

hominid (author)petitjosdu912009-04-23

The smaller the better and use 25 turns of winding wire.....the stuff with lacquer insulation.

stuuf (author)2009-04-21

Can you provide a better description of how the circuit is wired? I have no idea how it actually works.

Its a joule thief. There are several others on the sight. I have a slideshow of mine. Basically it uses a coil of wire to build up a charge it then discharges to the Led and then recharges. That way 1 volt from a "Dead battery" can be sucked dry to power a 3 volt Led. It flashes 30,000 times a second (might be wrong but its vary fast). A transistor is what switches the current between the coil and the Led.

I get it now, it's an ultra simplified boost converter. how well do these work with solenoid-type cores instead of (hard-to-find) toroids?

i got over 15 out of my old dead xbox. look in the transformers of old Cpus. this is such a good project because all you need to buy is the transistor, i managed to scrap all the other parts.

i found 2 in my dead 1st gen xbox controller. on the leads that go from the controller to the xbox there is a bulg in the wire at either end, these are fairly large, long toroid beads. both of them worked really great on my joule thief!!

I heatgun-desoldered 3 PSUs last summer and recovered all of 5 toroids... Actually, I think i've been able to scrap more small signal NPN transistors than any of the other joule thief parts.

hominid (author)stuuf2009-04-22

is a very good set of instructions which give you all the info you require.

uguy (author)2009-04-22

I hate having to go to another instructable or web site to understand how an instructable device works! I feel it makes an instructable incomplete!

About This Instructable




Bio: Design researcher, DIY enthusiast, storyteller, admirer of robots.
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