Instructables
Picture of Jar Lantern

The Jar Lantern is a contemporary take on the traditional gas lantern. It was inspired by seeing sunlight refract through my glass water bottle one afternoon, and thinking to myself that it was a bit like carrying a jar full of light. This brief moment of illumination sparked something in my mind that made me wonder how I could capture this experience more permanently.

While trying to bottle light may be a fool's task, I could at least try to recreate the sense of magic I had briefly experienced. After mulling over various methods of accomplishing this, I decided to make a jar with an illuminated floating light bulb. The beauty of this seemingly impossible object is that the light bulb has no clear power source, yet it seems so natural and familiar. The Jar Lantern tends to leave people both taken and dumbfounded by its simplicity.

 
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Step 1: Go Get Stuff

Picture of Go Get Stuff

You will need:

(x1) Jar**
(x1) CFL Bulb
(x1) Disposable camera
(x1) AA battery holder
(x1) Switch
(x1) Roll of magnet wire

**You can get jars with lids online, but only by the dozen from Daiso.

Step 2: Open the Disposable Camera

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Open up the disposable camera case. Be mindful not to touch the large capacitor which could potentially give you a nice jolt.

Step 3: Cut Away the Capacitor and Flash

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Discharge the capacitor by bridging the leads with a long screwdriver that you don't care much for. Be careful not to be touching the metal part of the screwdriver while doing this. Once discharged, cut it from the board so that it will not recharge.

Also, cut the flash tube away from the circuit board.

Step 4: Hack a CFL

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Use a pair of diagonal cutting pliers to make a hole in the plastic body of a CFL bulb.

Next, use this hole to insert a screwdriver and gently pry the the base apart from the glass tube.

Finally, unwind the CFL tube's wires from the posts on the circuit board.

Step 5: Bridge the Switch

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Remove the push tab atop the flash charge switch.

Solder the switch's terminals together.

Step 6: Prep the CFL Bulb

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Scrape the coating off the wires coming out of the CFL bulb using a razor blade.

Twist the wires together and tin them with solder.

Step 7: Remove Extra Parts

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Remove any parts the stick out from the board such as battery terminals. However, remember to make note of which terminals on the underside of the board they are connected to for future reference.

I also removed the wire connecting the top of the trigger transformer to the flash tube for the heck of it.

Step 8: Trim the Circuit Board

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Trim away any corners that have unnecessary electronic traces (or no traces at all).

Step 9: Prep the Magnet Wire

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Strip away 1/2" of plastic coating from both ends of two 3" pieces of magnet wire using a razor blade.

Step 10: Hack a Camera Flash

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Now is time to connect the wires to the board that will power the light.

Solder the first magnet wire to one of the terminals connected to the ground plane.

Solder the other wire to the terminal of the inverting transformer that the diode is connected to.

*** If you are confused, a more hands on way of figuring this out is to use aligator clip jumper cables to connect the battery to the board. The board should now be live, so be careful of high voltages!

Using another cable, connect one of the bulbs leads to ground. Finally, connect a fourth cable to the other battery lead. Briefly touch this wire to various spots on the board until the bulb lights up. Once its lit, you have found the proper connection. ***

Step 11: Connect a Switch

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Trim the battery holder's red wire in half. Solder the trimmed pieces to the center terminal of the switch and the red wire still connected to the battery holder to the switch's outer terminal.

Step 12: Drill the Lid

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Drill a 3/16" hole near the outer part of the lid for mounting the switch.

Step 13: Mount the Switch

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Pass the switch up through the underside of the lid and lock it in place with its mounting nut.

Step 14: Connect Power to the Camera Flash

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Solder the red wire from the switch to the spot on the camera flash circuit board where the positive terminal of the battery was connected.

Solder the black wire to ground.

Step 15: Hot Glue

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While I am not normally a fan of hot glue, it is the perfect adhesive for connecting the circuit board and battery holder to the inside of the lid.

Center them inside the lid and then glue them in place as flush to the lid as possible.

Use a generous amount of glue, but be mindful of not getting any on the lid's inner edge, or it will no longer twist shut.

Step 16: Connect the Bulb

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Solder one of the magnet wires to each of the CFL bulb's leads.

Step 17: Insert the Battery

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Insert the battery into the battery holder.

Step 18: Twist On

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Twist the lid onto the jar.

Step 19: Power!

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If the lantern is not already on, power it up by flicking the switch.

Step 20: Illuminate the Darkness

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Go forth and make good use of your new lantern.

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QkillhawkNL1 month ago
For extending the time you have light with the lamp, you could use multiple AA battery's in parallel for more miliamps
coryvr032 months ago

Hey Guys, i am having an issue getting the bulb to light. I am an extreme beginner into the electronics world. i have tried two bulbs and two different styles of disposable camera boards. What is the desired voltage at the end of the magnet wires? I place my volt meter across the two wires and i get 295v with one board and 360v when i use the other board. Any ideas what i am missing? is there a special type of CFL i should be using? Any help would is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.


BurgersBytes made it!7 months ago

Mission accomplished! I managed to find a circuit small enough to put inside of the base and put it all back together. The bulb now runs from a AA battery hooked to the AC socket base. It uses about 230 ma when on.

Beware of the other transformer. When the picture button is pressed with the flash charged it can create over 1000 volts to charge up the flash bulb. The plate wire is often out in the open so disconnect the battery and discharge the capacitor before proceeding further. The voltage will not kill you, but impacts with nearby objects could!

Anyhow, here is a picture and a link to the entire process:

http://petesqbsite.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=...

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have an idea instead of that circuits maybe use some discharge or died cfl and deposed the casing not the parts inside because can be extra parts and ... put inside the led in the cfl filament and just put some hot glue or industrialized super glue!!!!! and the circuits...........secret!!!!!!!!!!!! hahaha its much more last longer that the cfl with a filament and most efficient at all!!!!!

Apparenbtly the stuff INSIDE the tubes are toxit, so might want to NOT do that. Just saying.

Great run through. If I try making another one I might try your method so the rest of the bulb is intact :)

Hey Burgers, thanks for going into more detail on this project. I've been wanting to do this for a long time. I literally have a box of at least 50 disposable cameras collected from CVS and have been looking for detailed instructions on this. I'm still fairly new to electronics and don't have the skill to read schematics yet. I tried to do it on my own, got shocked a few times (you can get shocked by touching a few things besides just the capacitor leads apparently!) and flung the camera across the room in reflex. But haven't yet got it working. I think your write-up will help me understand a little more. Do you think you would be able to build that alternate circuit you were talking about as an example? Also, are the guts from the CFL good for anything? Seems like maybe some fun things in there. Anyway, thanks again!

I have ordered the parts for the simple 3 component circuit and I will follow up at the other link thread as I do not want to hijack this Instructable. Parts cost about $7 plus $8 shipping so you may prefer using some of those cameras.

As to tearing those cameras apart, the first thing you should do is carefully remove the battery to prevent accidental triggering of the flash which has voltages over 1000 volts. The next thing to do is jumper the capacitor. I use resistors to do it slowly, but a screwdriver you don't care about would work too. Then you would remove the circuit board to find the parts you need.

I recommend tracing the battery connections as far as possible to let you know the closest battery connection available. The rectangular transformer is east to find and the transistor and rectifier are next to it. You don't even need the rectifier, but there may be a resistor or capacitor too.

If you have any further questions about my method, please feel free to post questions in the thread at Pete's Site. I'll be following up when the new parts come in.

Smartguydude3 months ago
Will this work with the fujifilm cameras that use the AAA's
Jan_Henrik4 months ago

Wow, nice! i need to try it!

pocmarck made it!5 months ago

Managed to spend just over $3 on it. And only for the jar. It's one of the mason style jars with a mug handle on the side.

The bulb came from the trash at work, the circuit from the junk pile and the switch was out of an old LORAN radio. Gotta say this is my new favorite camping flashlight. It even seems to run fine on a AAA battery. Will be switching over to a AA once I get some fresh ones.

Thanks for the inspiration. It was a fun little project.

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rhooie7 months ago

I see at least 2 people have asked how long it lasts on an AA battery. But no reply. I would also like to know. If it has a practical use I would try building it. Or is it short term just for the "Uncle Fester" effect?

It lasted about 2 hours with a full battery. Albeit it was the camera battery which may not be a good representation of true length time.

tisaconundrum made it!7 months ago

This was fun, and i was able to do this build for my club.

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jtolar7 months ago
nevermind. i got it!
jtolar7 months ago
my bulb is only lighting up half way. what did i do wrong? please help.
Craig M7 months ago

How long will the batter run the CFL?

What about using an LED bulb?

R10pez10 made it!7 months ago

Thanks for the fun weekend project!

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randofo (author)  R10pez107 months ago

Nice. I like your enclosure.

andrea biffi7 months ago

Randy I was making a lantern like this with an identical lamp and a flash circuit :-)

mine will probably be steampunk style, but your is very cartoonish, I love it!

randofo (author)  andrea biffi7 months ago

Thanks.

Looking forward to seeing your take on things. I'm sure it will be very good.

mheadrick7 months ago

can you get these jars online?

randofo (author)  mheadrick7 months ago

Yes, but only by the dozen as far as I can tell:

http://www.daisojapan.com/p-23666-glass-jar-with-plastic-lid-and-handle-green-12pks.aspx

BurgersBytes7 months ago

For those who would prefer to make their own circuit board, I found all of the parts here: http://xenonflashtubes.com/components.html

All you need is the following:

1- XFT-5383-1.5v works with just one battery

1- 2SD882 transistor pin out normally ECB

1- 1K resistor

The CFL board I found also had a transformer about the same size so conceivably the round circuit board could be adapted to hold the 300 volt circuit.. If my calculations are correct, I can make one with a CP300H battery that should last about an hour. I can charge it through the base too.

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Ryan Hebron7 months ago

i found out a while back that there is a constant voltage across the xenon tube when the capacitor is ether charging or charged you could use this and just replace the xenon tube with the flouresent bulb

No you can't. There are 2 transformers and 2 voltages on the flash. The 200 volt one is what is used by this project. The thousand volt one is exclusively for the flash plate and not for any light bulbs that I'm aware of. The small innocent looking one far away from the transformer needed in the circuit in this Instructable is not necessary.

Great idea anyhow! Can't wait to have fun with it!

by the way great instructable

FRED19587 months ago
aalejo7 months ago

wait , if i try to make it why disposable battery? when i can make it rechargeable and i use a 16000 mah of battery and wait what is the value of the cap? and volt rate?

randofo (author)  aalejo7 months ago

You can use any 1.5v battery you want that is AA or greater. I just used the battery that came with the camera. I got the camera at CVS. They typically run about $8 to $15. You can usually buy used disposable camera flash boards from surplus sites for about $1 - $2.

would it be possible to build this w a 9volt battery? Seems like it'd be more powerful and last longer if so. Nice instructable btw.

aalejo randofo7 months ago

wait!!!!!! did you mean ... the old vintage flashcam? the one that use 2AA battery ? ok i will check it i have already have one .

kiss up to the staff they will give you the ones they processed for free, they bring them a working unit as a thank you gift. Don't be greedy get a few from a few stores.

aalejo aalejo7 months ago

and where ican buy the disposable camera?

and how much? per pcs ?

aalejo7 months ago

wu....wu wait!!!! if this ciurciuts do why ill try a led one that ill do its and test it try with the same concept but different schematic and circuits at its self

Ale Cylon7 months ago

Hi, excuse my noobness but what do you mean with magnettic wire? English is not my first language, is the same as normal copper wire? or is different if so please explain.
Thanks.

aalejo Ale Cylon7 months ago

yeah it a copper wire or coil is dasame that raps its up with tiny metal and hooks some battery to magnetized that all

This sort of wire can be salvaged by the hundreds of feet from old motors and derelict electronics.

Magnet wire is basically a wire coated with a thin layer of enamel that is commonly used in motors, inductors, and transformers. This differs from standard copper wire which uses a thicker plastic type insulation however seeing how it was used, standard copper wire should work just fine.

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