Introduction: Make Your Own Lightning Globe!

Picture of Make Your Own Lightning Globe!

This instructable will show you how to make one of those cool lightning globes with about $5.00 worth of parts.

WARNING Just like my Monitor Hack instructable, this makes use of some very high voltage. It could be potentially lethal, especially if you are standing in a puddle of water.

Watch the video for the overview:

Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies

Here's a list of supplies I used:

1. Large, clear light bulb
Not just any light bulb will work. It must be one that has been gas filled.

Typically, anything 60 watts or higher should work. Lower wattage bulbs typically have a vaccuum. 60 watt and higher usually have an argon nitrogen mix, which lights up nicely!

I found a 5 inch 60 watt bulb for about $2.49 at the hardware store.

2. Aluminum screen, painted black
The aluminum screen will be our ground to attract the high voltage.

Instead of shelling out a bunch of money for an entire roll of aluminum screening, just look for an HVAC vent with some right on the back.

I found the one below at the hardware store for about $1.50, and the screen was already painted black!

3. A cheap black plastic pot
This is going to be the holder for the globe. Since it will be used at night, it doesn't need to look pretty.

I found a black plastic pot for about $0.79, you guessed it, at the hardware store.

4. A high voltage power source
This is what makes the magic happen.

I used the same monitor as the one in my Electric Fence Monitor Hack Video

With people upgrading to LCDs like crazy these days, you can easily get a 15" monitor from someone for free. You might even talk them into paying you for removing the hideous eyesore from their humble abode.

WARNING: Color monitors put out close to 30,000 volts. This voltage can harm you and quite possibly kill you, depending on the depth of the water you are standing in or how old your pacemaker batteries are. Seriously, though, be careful.

Step 2: Prep the Screen

Picture of Prep the Screen

The screen is our grounding plane for the high voltage. It will be wrapped around as much of the light bulb as possible, without causing unintended arcs.

Trim the screen as needed. You should be able to fold the screen in half and still be able to fit the bulb inside tightly.

The screen I used was painted black, so I scraped off some paint with an Exacto knife. Since we need to attach a wire to it, pick a good spot on the edge of the screen - right in the center.

You'll need to scrape paint off of both sides of the screen and on both edges.

Then fold the screen in half, poke the stripped ground wire through both pieces, wrap it around the edge as tightly as you can get it, and then solder the ground wire to itself.

Since the screen is aluminum, you won't be able to solder the wire directly to it. That's why it's very important to tighten the ground wire around the screen. Use pliers if you have to.

Step 3: Fit the Screen Over the Bulb

Picture of Fit the Screen Over the Bulb

Next, I trimmed the screen on the top and bottom to be sure the high voltage wouldn't arc unintentionally.

Then I made several cuts evenly spaced around the screen so I could fold it to the shape of the globe.

To make it easier, you can make one cut the proper length, remove the bulb, then make the rest of the cuts. At that point, simply bend the screen flaps down and then slide the bulb inside. That will make it nice and tight.

Do the same for the top, and then use your hands to gently squeeze the screen around the globe so it's form-fitted.

Step 4: Prep the Stand

Picture of Prep the Stand

To prep the stand (cheap plastic pot), cut out a hole in the top the size of the light bulb stem. You'll also need to cut a slot on one side to allow the high voltage wire to pass through.

Cut a small hole in the side of the pot about four inches off the ground. The high voltage wire will pass through here, so it must be high enough that it won't try to arc to ground.

Feed the wire through the side hole, then through the top and attach it to the bulb.

Now slide the bulb into the pot and it's done.

It's not pretty to look at, and it's not supposed to be. It's for use at night.

Step 5: Test It Out!

Picture of Test It Out!

Now it's time to hook it up and test it out!

Refer to the Monitor Hack Instructable for instructions on how to connect the aluminum wire to the anode. Be sure to pay attention to the part where you carefully discharge the high voltage!

The ground wire needs to go to ground, of course. The easiest place to attach the ground wire to is the inside of the monitor at the same place the high voltage was discharged to.

Turn it on and test it out!

If everything is nice and tight, there should be a great lightning show around all sides of the globe.

If it's arcing to the stem, you'll need to turn it off and trim the screen on the bottom some more.

Watch the video to see it in action:


dawn456qs (author)2017-08-11

This one looks almost like the one found at

Lil6lil (author)2010-06-13

would this work if i used a low voltage source????? cause the high voltage sounds kinda dangerous...

badideasrus (author)Lil6lil2010-10-22

actually, volts dont kill. amperage does. thats why tazers have over 1000000 volts. i can't say weather this would work or not, and i'm definantly saying this isn't dangerous! so be careful.

Actually its voltage and current toghter that kill low voltage and high current shouldnt kill at all and vice versa tasers work at 10kv

lvogel98 (author)badideasrus2014-04-05

Actually badideasrus it is not the voltage or the amperes that kill you. It is the combination of the two that kills you. Voltage is a measure of the power and amperes is the measure of current. Without power, then you have no current and without current, then there is no power being conducted to you or anything else

dtbradio (author)lvogel982014-12-05

Voltage is a measure of the electro-motive FORCE, not the POWER Power is the multiple of the motive force, and the current (speed at which the electrons are being pushed through the circuit by the motive force); IE, Voltage times Current = Power. And actually, it IS the current that kills you. Any current flowing through your heart at about .2 amps or higher is considered lethal, regardless of the voltage.

DavidB552 (author)2016-07-09

anyone feel like posting a way to do this but as a plate ?

SerhiiB1 (author)2016-06-20

DIY plasma lamp (Electric arc inside a light bulb)

S338761331 (author)2016-03-06

what if your'e a kid?

noornisaik (author)2016-03-02

can i use 4 battreys to power this ?

Chikpeas Brother (author)2014-03-06

I actually discovered this inadvertantly at Barnes and Noble! I'm definitely going to try it. :-)

Sahilpotter (author)2013-02-21

Making One for the first time, what kind of high voltage wire should I use to connect the bulb to the flyback transformer?

scooter_kid (author)2013-01-15

if i make this is there a way to build a battery pack and hook it up to that? if so how? thanks!

Schmitty93 (author)2012-08-27


When you say, "Feed the wire through the side hole, then through the top and attach it to the bulb." where exactly on the bulb are you saying to attach it?

Thanks for your help, and great instructable.

AChillyDog (author)2012-08-09


AChillyDog (author)2012-06-01

Would a 12,000 volt, 30 milliamp power supply work?

Higgs Boson (author)AChillyDog2012-07-31

Are you using an NST?

nerd7473 (author)2011-10-26

this is a good project

Rhamkota (author)2011-07-26

Yes, I know that, but that had nothing to do with the evolution of the lightbulb.

hubi (author)2011-07-24

Hello, this is cool, but you get better results with an AC High Volage. With 15kVAC or higher and frequencies above 10kHz you do not need a groundplane around the bulb an you cn direct the discharges with your fingers. For Supply you can use an old TV Flyback without rectification and use the 2n3055 driver from Sam Barrows powerlabs or with FETs

Nickola Tesla 101 (author)2008-03-01

If you want some really nice sparks you should switch your power supply with a neon transformer.

Mudbud (author)Nickola Tesla 1012009-07-31

that would be cool. I wonder does the voltage have to be 30,000V? p.s Tesla made the lightbulb 20 years before the factories "invented" them. GO TESLA!!!!!!

history323 (author)Mudbud2009-10-22

umm hate to burst your buble but Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb.

lis.tesla (author)history3232011-07-21

bubble hasn't been busted yet. gimme proof that he invented it before tesla

Rhamkota (author)history3232011-01-05

Actually Humphry Davy invented the light bulb. Also to the rest of you Nickola Tesla had really nothing to do with the light bulb.

Eddiepers (author)history3232009-10-24

ummm hate to burst yours but edison perfected the art of making the lightbulb

tesla invented the lightboub

speakerman9 (author)Eddiepers2010-07-06

And Edison had one heck of a time doing it. He wanted the bulb to be DC run, which put far too much stress on the fillament. And, the bulbs were no brighter or safer than candles at the time.

history323 (author)Eddiepers2009-10-26

dude no Im fairly positive he invented the lightbulb- yes he "perfected" it but those perfections were what made it work. Ive got nothing against tesla he kicks edisons butt but edison invented the lightbulb.

ZaderMan (author)history3232009-11-02
You are both WRONG.
I'm a Canadian, so I should know this.

In 1875, Edison purchased half of a Toronto medical electrician's patent to further his own research.  That researcher was named James Woodward.
Woodward and a colleague by the name of Matthew Evans, described in the patent as "Gentleman" but in reality a hotel keeper, filed a patent for the Woodward and Evan's Light on July 24, 1874.
Working at the Morrison's Brass Foundry on Adelaide St. West in Toronto, they built the first lamp with a shaped rod of carbon held between electrodes in an glass bulb filled with nitrogen.
Woodward and Evans were treated as cranks and subject to much public ridicule.  "Who needs a glowing piece of metal!!"  They attempted, with very little success, to form a company to raise money to refine and market their invention.  (Where is the federal government when you really need them?)
In 1876, Woodward obtained a U.S. patent on his electric lamp and, in 1879, Edison considered it sufficiently important to completely buy out the patent from Woodward, Evans, and all their Canadian partners.  Woodward sold a share of his Canadian patent to Thomas Edison in 1885. 
Thus the electric light bulb became American.

So it was us! The Canadians that made the lightbulb.
I don't know where you guys are coming from, but this is the TRUE story. I even put a story in the Newspaper about it.

mikeb270 (author)ZaderMan2010-01-07

Then you sir are guilty of spreading propaganda!

ZaderMan (author)mikeb2702010-01-07

It's not Propaganda! Look it all up! All of the history behind the light bulb. I know this. I did research on it for weeks.

mikeb270 (author)ZaderMan2010-01-10

ahhh lol,  I would not concern myself with the light bulb for weeks but if its your pleasure so be it....... YAWN....zzzzzzz...night - nite!

ZaderMan (author)mikeb2702010-01-10

May I ask, how much do you know about the lightbulb? Seeing as you haven't even said anything about it yet...

mikeb270 (author)ZaderMan2010-02-01

frankly to be honest and I do not want to start a fight but does it really matter what country invented what give me a break.

mikeb270 (author)ZaderMan2010-01-17

history is that!!!,
I do not need to be historically Correct to construct one just understand the why behind the construction. lab work does NOT = Book smarts and Book smarts does NOT = actual getting hands dirty lab work.

history323 (author)mikeb2702010-01-09

haha yeah
but still edison perfected the carbon filament that had never been invented before! Thats what (along with a vaccum creates a light)

steveastrouk (author)ZaderMan2009-11-06

Edison also tried to enforce his patents against the English man, Joseph Swan, and was so unsuccessful, he had to form a joint company with Swan to market in the UK..


A neon transformer will burn a hole through the glass in 10 to 15 seconds. I used a 12KV 60mA transformer.

I just bought a mini one for $6.... well I bought a neon light for my computer but it came smashed in the I got to playing around with the transformer, and got a good 1 inch constant spark. and this ible gives me ideas for a mini lightning bulb.

lis.tesla (author)2011-07-21

i , as well, admire Tesla and his inventions and do recognize all his many woks in fact every science project in school had to do something with Tesla or one of his genius ideas thanx

Matrix-technician (author)2011-06-25

OK, so you don't have to change anything inside of the lightbulb for this to work? Just wondering.

jay26lysne (author)2011-05-28

is there anyway i can use an old xbox 360 for this?

pjp15 (author)2009-11-24

When wrapping the aluminum screening around the globe, can you cover the top? And what do you mean by "so the high voltage wouldn't ark unintentionally"?

Fireater989 (author)pjp152011-01-13

If the electricity isn't distributed evenly, it can arc to one point in the mesh and can become so hot that it will melt the glass. That probably won't happen, but don't stick any pointed metal objects against the glass or it will probably happen.

cheychey777 (author)2010-11-07

What kind of high voltage power source do i need? I don't have access to a computer monitor or TV.

LeviMan_2001 (author)2010-03-17

Do you think this would work with an old TV as well?

badideasrus (author)LeviMan_20012010-09-27

a crt tv, yes.

ernestmac13 (author)2010-03-22

How could I fix a store bought lightning bulb, that's has suffered a broken globe.
The Tesla coil looking thing in the middle is still intact, but both the inner and outer bulbs were shattered. It would be a shame to discard this globe, as it worked vary well, and looked vary cool. The globe was about the size of a grape fruit, which made it even more impressive than, some of the tiny ones I've seen. Any ideas beyond a simple round globe would be appreciated as well.


badideasrus (author)ernestmac132010-09-27

i would say no. unless you have the power to take a vacuum sealed (airtight) glass, fill it with argon and nitrogen, and stick ur coil into it. i would almost wager that the second globe(outer) was filled with a very conductive gas (just a guess) so as to replace the screen. technically you don't need the screen on some globes, but they (if i have this right) don't work quite as well.

while one globe "might" be possible with some rigging, two globes sounds rather ........ impossible.

you could, however, look for another ibble that scratch builds a lighning globe and skip all the steps pertainting to the power and coil, and jump right to the globe filling..

(this is all theory, i'm not 100% sure)

Tesla boy (author)2010-07-30

Hey knoxarama! the pictures that NK5 (the author) took were probably long exposures so they had the advantage of looking like there were lots of shocks at once, but they are really just a lot of shocks over lots of time. You might try getting a furnace ignition unit, try a car ignition coil or a NST (Neon Sign Transformer). Please be careful with these they put out less voltage but way more amprage.

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