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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.

Step 1: Go Get Stuff

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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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SamuelA15 months ago

what if i dont have an old camera?

Radkid SamuelA124 days ago

You can use the power supply inside a 3 dollar harbor freight electric fly swatter. Just detach the poly film capacitor.

NO NO NO , you don't need to buy anything. Walk in to your local CVS, Walgreens or whatever. Go to the photo counter and ask them if you can have some of the old disposable cameras that they are getting rid of because you want to use them for a project. Apparently its fairly common. I did this and walked out with a huge bag of at least 40 cameras inside. Once they remove the film they send them out to be recycled.

Those are the disposable cameras, which you can buy just about anywhere for a cheap price.

An example:

http://www.amazon.com/Disposable-Kodak-Camera-3Pack/dp/B000OFW65I/ref=sr_1_2?s=photo&ie=UTF8&qid=1429478231&sr=1-2

One more thing; They're mostly sold in 3 packs or so online, so go to a store to buy individual ones.

drosenkranz made it!4 months ago
thank you for this awesome instructable it took me about 20 min
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That is literally the most brilliant twist on this Instructable. I love it.

fda silveira3 months ago

GOOD JOB, VERY GOOD

kd1uc made it!4 months ago

This was not hard to build but just a tad frustrating.

First: My first camera flash didn't work after I disassembled it so I grabbed another and was much more careful.

Second, I used a high wattage bulb so only half of it lit up. I then doubled the input voltage and voila, It's Alive !!!

Third: The AA batteries did not last very long so I used 'C' cells (I have tons of them with no devices that use them).

Fourth: The bulb was too big for standard mason jar openings. I had this short wide mouth jar that would only house the bulb without the electronics and batteries, hence the box.

It has a nice glow and would be a good sit around and chat light but not very good for reading. I have a low wattage bulb starting to die so I will try again very soon and I plan to make it a solar rechargeable unit.

Thanks randofo for the inspiration

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Craig M1 year ago

How long will the batter run the CFL?

What about using an LED bulb?

kd1uc Craig M4 months ago

No, an LED bulb will not work for this. The technology is completely different. The real purpose of this instructable is to re-purpose a dead CFL where the circuit died but the bulb part is still good. In a CFL bulb the voltage is stepped up (300 volts), in an LED bulb the voltage is stepped down (2 to 3 volts).

Hope this helps.

Miramithe Craig M6 months ago
The answer to that is a bit complicated, and at the same time not. Ohms law is the answer, but to run those cfl you need a high frequency high voltage and LEDs like low voltage dc, but you can use a joulethief for the LEDs. By theory you could have double battery life on LEDs vs cfl cos cfl have around 50lm/W light output and led can have about 100lm/W.

Cool instructable, thanks for sharing OP. I too am curious to know if an LED bulb would be a better choice in terms of battery runtime...maybe the OP hasn't responded because LED bulbs are more difficult to modify? I really don't know...

coryvr031 year 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.


kd1uc coryvr034 months ago

If you could post some pictures we might be able to see something you missed. The only thing that comes to mind at the moment is that the bulbs are bad. If you cracked the seal on the tube it won;t work. What is the voltage when the bulb is connected? I had to use 3 volts to get mine to light.

Search joulethief and look at solar powered garden lights, there you have some nice beginner circuits.
this is no way a project for an extreme beginner. try low voltage leds or timer circuits
catfisher816 months ago
could one of those cheap solar yard lights be used to charge the battery during the day? maybe somehow mount the solar panel to the top?
kd1uc catfisher814 months ago

Hey, you stole my idea :)

I did think of that because I have a few of those lights for just such experiments. The only problem I am having is my light needs 3 volts to light the bulb so it would eat up two solar panels.

Sounds like a good idea! Might as well give it a try and post up your results
JohnS554 months ago

Great project and I built one but my bulb doesn't seem to light up all the way. It only lights up the top bar and the rest is dark. Using 1 AA Battery anyone know how to fix?

ArduinoDeXXX made it!5 months ago

Thank you for your Instructable. I have tried it
using stuff gotten in Japan. It requires some changes from yours to light. I
feel your project is wonderful. I would like to introduce yours with these
changes to Japanese Instriuctables if you don’t mind.

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I used a circuit board of FUJI instead of KODAK. And I added 5-step-dimmer to it. The lantern based on yours has been posted to Japanese site of instructables.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Battery-Powered-CF...

Machine translation of web browser might help you to read it.

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Liam.great98 made it!10 months ago

I lookedall over the dollar store for a plastic jar but couldn't find one. I had to use a glass jar with a metal lid, but that wasn't a problem because thee are no wires touching the lid. The only thing I had to purchase was the tiny switch, so it was totally woth it! Also I didn't use the original pcb I just desoldered the transfomer, transistor, and resistor and soldered them together on the transformer. I also didn't use an AA battery holder, to save space I just soldered onto the battery and glued it on the lid.

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Can you teach me?

so beautiful!

景吳6 months ago

I can use alternatives to complete it anyway?

A complete circuit of it?

mgingerich6 months ago
cain26226 months ago
FugiFilm, sorry
cain2622 made it!6 months ago
I used a fug film disposable camera and learned that it only puts out about 150 volts. I compensated by using 2 AA 's. Works great, thanks.
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waraji6 months ago

Fun project, but you should give a mercury warning. Since you haven't, I will:

Be careful regarding potential CFL bulb breakage. The mercury danger is real. Mercury poisoning is no fun.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality refers to this PDF for cleanup instructions. Don't vacuum!
Vacuuming spreads the contamination. Read this PDF.
http://www.energystar.gov/.../down.../Fact_Sheet_Mercury.pdf

KingW16 months ago

If you do not how to do this board

customboss6 months ago
Awesome idea and instructable!
Dop136 months ago
This is a nice instructable. I am going to mak one!
akarod796 months ago
Thanks, awesome idea. I was looking for a nice easy project to do with my son since he's been learning about electronic circuits in school. This will be perfect!
ggrookett6 months ago
This looks like a great project going to try this sometime with hopefully the same great results you got.

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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pmck BurgersBytes6 months ago

cool, Ill use this and let you know how it works

Wow, that looks awesome!

rdaly46 months ago
I enjoyed reading this. I could follow it easily and it provides wonderful base to expand on for future project planning. One of the pictures you posted has you carrying the lantern towards a fence that says unsafe area. It leads me to a question. Does this light qualify as grounded ? If it does it would allow it to be used in a whole slew of environments where an ungrounded light of this type could not be used.
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