Film Canister Battery

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Introduction: Film Canister Battery

Making a battery from film canisters, used wire, vinegar, and nails.

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Step 1: Materials

Film canisters
Vinegar
Safety goggles
Nails (zinc coated)
Wire Cutters
Alligator clips with wire
Scrap copper wire
Red LED

No film canisters? You can use a cup with plastic wrap over the top.  That is the way we did it the first time. Works almost as good. We also sell the film canisters at catsscience.com but you maybe able to get them cheaper from e-bay.

No alligator clips? We used old speaker wire that we found. It works fine.

Step 2: Getting Copper Wire

Old scrap pieces of Romex wire works great to get copper wire.  Just take the ground wire out. It is the one with no insulation directly on it.  Once you have the wire out, cut it into pieces a bit smaller then your nails.  Now that you have your pieces of copper wire, we suggest you bend them. This prevents the wire from slipping around and gives a good place for the clips to hook to.

Step 3: Making the Battery

Put on safety goggles. Take your film canister with the lid on it and using the nail, punch two holes into the lid.  Place one copper wire and one nail into each lid. Remove lids and add vinegar to canisters. Replace lids and clean any spills. We now should have close to .5 volts.

Step 4: Connecting Batteries

It will take 3 canisters hooked together to get us enough energy to light up the LED. We can see the light in a very dark room but to be able to get the LED to shine more or to use other colored LEDs you will need more "batteries".

Hook the "batteries" to one another by connecting the alligator clips. We will need to connect one canister to the other by copper wire to nail. The copper wire is acting as a positive and the the nail is acting as a negative. String 3 or more canisters together to get enough energy to light the LED.

Step 5: Other

Add a red LED to the 3 batteries.  You will need to be in a dark room to see the light. Now add another battery, and another. See any difference?  Try a yellow LED. What else could you run on these batteries?

We have had the red LED running for five days on the 4 batteries.  Still shining!

No film canisters? You can use a cup with plastic wrap over the top.  That is the way we did it the first time. Works almost as good. We also sell the film canisters at catsscience.com but you maybe able to get them cheaper from e-bay.

No alligator clips? We used old speaker wire that we found. It works fine.

Light not turning on? Try switching the connections to the legs of the LED. You may just have it backwards.

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52 Comments

nice instructable ,
just a little tip I thought I would share
if you add lemon juice or grapefruit juice and folic acid your power output will be even higher , I tested it out and the results were good it powered an led for about five months ,

once again nice job keep up the good work :)

any idea how the folic acid contributes?

That's really interesting. I'll give it a try.
thanks

I used vinegar and copper and zinc-coated nails.

Voltage was 0.5 per canister but very low capacity, it only works for some small LED.

But after some time, around the zinc-nails something started oozing out, looking cool but makes no technical sense, anyone exactly knowing the chemistry about it? It only takes one day to show up again in that size after cleaning.

Looks like the Monolith Monster!

:-P

ooze1.jpgooze2.jpg

I've been looking for a easy, fun, electrical experiment to teach my daughter about electricity. Thanks for sharing!

Just curious- have you looked at the shake-a-can generator we posted? The battery gives DC and the shake-a-can gives AC (AC/DC Alternating Current / Direct Current)

Great to know you will be using this! Have you seen our shake-a-can generator? We think it is a really good one for alternating current and the batteries show direct current (AC/DC).

This along with the little tip would make a great science project/experiment for 3rd or 4th graders! I think the biggest difficulty today would be in finding 35mm film canisters. I still have a few but not anywhere near enough for even one class' science project.

Being a diabetic, I buy test strips for my glucose meter that come in a plastic can with a lid very much like a film canister. I've been saving for years so now I have bags of them. It's nice to be able to give away the canisters to my grade four students when we are done an experiment. So, if you know any diabetics, chances are they have plenty of these canisters laying around.