Picture of Mysterious Lightbulb Prank
Have you ever seen the Magic Lightbulbs magicians use? Here's how to make one that will drive people crazy! Thanks to Brad Graham for the fun idea! Watch the video and then follow along with the Instructable. Hope you enjoy it!

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Step 1: What you need...

Picture of What you need...
1. (2) ordinary lightbulbs - the older the better.
2. (2) CR2032 Button Cell Batteres
3. 1 High Intensity White LED

Step 2: Tools needed...

Picture of Tools needed...
1. Soldering iron/station
2. Solder
3. Knife or X-Acto
4. Work gloves
5. Needle nose pliers
6. Hot Glue gun

Step 3: Step 1

Picture of Step 1
Put on your work gloves and start to gently work the lightbulb base back and forth. After some patience the base should come loose from the bulb. If you are lucky, the bulb will come loose cleanly. In my case it didn't so I salvaged the base and removed the excess old glue.

Step 4: Step 2

Picture of Step 2
On the second bulb, I cut away a small edge of the base. Just enough to grab it with needle nose pliers and start 'unwrapping' the base from the bulb. Shen I was done I ended up with a clean glass bulb.

Step 5: Wire it up...

Picture of Wire it up...
After zip tying both batteries together, solder one wire to the lightbulb base in the center. Solder one wire to the edge of the base. There should be two nice globs of solder already there that you can use. Then solder one wire to each of the LED leads. Take note as to which one is positive (the longer lead). Then attach the positive wire to the + side of the battery pack by slipping it under the zip tie. Do the same for the negative wire.

Step 6: Put it back together...

Picture of Put it back together...
Now drop the battery pack inside the base of the lightbulb and insert the LED into the empty part of the lightbulb. I had to break away the smaller glass shaft that runs inside the bulb to make room for the LED. Make it nice and snug and then I used some hot glue to seal the base to the bulb.
DFree3 years ago
I think it would be great if someone stuck this in their mouth.
most solder is made of lead... I wouldnt put that in my mouth...
Now lead-free solder- THAT is slightly better

lead-free solder is poop, generally.

drivanovich10 months ago

I love this idea. I did a similar thing a few years ago for a halloween costume (I went as a bright idea)

mrnadnad1 year ago
great idea! Next time a lightbulb breaks- I know what I will do
That is awesome! You have a great idea by placing small lithium batteries in the lightbulb :) I posted a similar idea using a solar yard light, cost about $1.50-$2.40 and batteries ARE included! Check it out at
J-Five2 years ago
I finally found Uncle Fester !!!
tstilwell23 years ago
Please tell me how you remove the base without breaking the glass bulb. I have tried this several times and because the bulb is a under a Vacuum Pressure it breakes and I have never seen one come apart at the base as clean as yours. I would love to know which brand you are using so I could make one Thanks Tom
I have bought cheap brandless bulbs and removed the foot as well (it was for another project).
Just hacksaw through the lower end of the metal base and then just peel off the rest of the metal with pliers.

This leaves you with a closed glass bulb haveing a glass rod stick out at the bottom.

Break off that rod.
Then immobilize a belt sander somewhere or ask someone to hold it for you and gently but firmly press the base of the lamp against the turning sandbelt,

Turn the lamp a few times as you probably will not push it sgainst the belt completely straight.

Very soon you will have gone through the base and the inner glass off the lamp will be loose and yr bulb will be open
fishfryer4 years ago
there isn't much solder on my base and i can't get more to stick. help please?
This will be way too late, but the flux paste used for plumbing will nearly always allow your solder to stick to metal that doesn't want to take it. Cleaning the metal with some abrasive paper or wire wool also helps.
it's never too late to build random stuff! I'll try this out, but even if it doesn't work, thanks anyway!
DETHKLOK004 years ago
i used this prank at a friends party and scared the crap out of everyone lol
soapdude4 years ago
I'm having trouble cleaning out the base... How did you do it? And when it is cleaned how would i get the wire through the glue at the bottom to the solder on the bottom?
Hugsdrummer5 years ago
what happens if you pluged the bulb in?
Probably not as much as others are expecting. The LED will blow almost instantly, and that would break the circuit. Connecting the battery to AC could make it blow or cause a fire, but the LED would act as a circuit breaker in this case.
You get a little fire, a lot of nasty smoke and the bulb will probably explode (ok, the last one might not happen!!!)... :P Here in the UK we have a different type of bulb base, a Bayonet fitting, with the two contacts on the base, rather than a single one and the cap being the other, which I think would make this trick easier in my opinion... :)
In Greece we have both types and personaly i frefer the screw type. I 've seen this trick with the lamp from a vagabondv who was did some street shows....and then (I was 8 or 9 y.o.) i crown and appluse and i ask my unbeleiver big brother naive " Now how he did that?" and my brother replied "pfffffffff" and gone...Nice memeories of over that 30 years!!!
The world would end. Actually, I think it's pretty likely that you'd blow a fuse, and possibly ruin the lamp.
That would be a whole other prank.
The reason there isnt a resistor is because your skin is resistive.

Average normal skin (Not right after washing your hands) has the resistance of about 100,000 ohms (100k).

Buf if you really want to be safe, just add another resistor.
100K ohms with a 6V source would pass so little current I doubt you could see the LED light at all. He's not using his skin to close the circuit, but rather a palmed piece of metal (in this case his ring.)
 I liked the prank my friend couldnt make it light
110100101106 years ago
now throw in a transistor and it lights up bright if you touch it just with ya hand !
I'm sorry, how exactly?
the 2 extra resistors are both optional but very recommended the 100 - 1K one protects the transistor from overheating if lamp contacts are shorted together and not just touched with hand the 100K - 1M one prevents static charges etc from activating the transistor and lighting the led (which kills battery)
12V 110100101105 years ago
but it would light up if someone else held it.
555mst5555 years ago
how come we can't solder directly to the batteries.....does it have a ayer of something that repels solder?
From experience, small batteries explode if you heat them fro too long with a soldering iron... :S You can try, but you have to be exceptionally careful and let the battery cool between soldering each side, otherwise they expel their contents... S
You know that you can pick one of those things up at a hardware store for a few cents right?
AT6 years ago
Nice! Uncle Fester would be proud.
Another Adams Family lover!
kinda sux that its like not on tv any more used to be my favorite show lol
HULU.COM has the shows
HULU rocks
-Hugs tightly- Thank you, thank you, thank you!
woody5585 years ago
On the first time you took the bulb apart. Why couldn't you use that?
volquete5 years ago
im a practicing magician, and this will help alot, thanks!
volquete5 years ago

to solder the wires on, do i have to use a soldering iron or just meld some solder onto the wire to make them stay?
How about putting a reed switch inside the bulb? Holding a small magnet close would turn on the light.
How easy is it to line up a reed switch? There's one in my dehumidifier I can't line up with the magnet in the water tank.
solution to your problem: take the tank out, and using a strong magnet, sweep over the area where the switch is changing the angle until it works, and then just change the angle of the magnet in the tank...
JellyWoo6 years ago
do you have to use a ring or can you just use your finger? also won't you get shocked turning the lightbulb on? finally, how do you replace the batteries? thanks
you wont get shocked your are working eith batteries! a small reed switch can be used as well.but it will have to be inside the bulb.Then you'll have to have a strong magnetic ring or just an hidden magnet.When you bring the magnet close to the bulb it will light. A reed switch is an switch that closes when a magnetic field flows over it.
oh, kk.
Berkin JellyWoo6 years ago
I have an idea. Go pick up a Power MOSFET transistor from RadioShack or somewhere. Wire that up to the LED. Schematic later.
The batteries have a low voltage, so you won't get shocked, and your finger is not conductive enough to light the LED.
kk, thanks!
If you really want to "prank" someone, try this. Add a High voltage transistor (or relay) to the circuit is such a way that the led is normally getting battery power, and when the bulb contacts receive household current, the transistor breaks the battery's circuit to the led. This means the light is on UNLESS there is power going to it. Then install this bulb in a room that has multiple lights on one switch. When the switch is on, the regular bulbs light and the prank bulb is out. When the switch is turned off, the regular bulbs go out and this on comes on. The will screw with your wife's head! Actually, my wife would just say, "honey, you messed up the lights." I'd rather try this on dad who is an Electrical Engineer, or my brother in-law who is a chemical engineer. They know enough to know they should be freaked out. My wife trusts me too much. Now I need to talk to a friend who is an EE to figure out what kind of transistor to use and what to do with the electrical potential to keep from tripping a the circuit breaker. An instructable may follow!
That sounds great. My brother is a physics major, so he would know that electricity isn't supposed to work like that. If you make it work, please make an instructable.
i think there is way to make it without mosfet - see the image when the ac is off the led is lit from battery thru the resistor when the ac is on it charges the capacitor with about 3 - 15 V (pick values to the 2 other resistors so that the voldage divides like that) when the ac is off again the capacitor discharges thru the resistor thats in parallel and is off again the led sees the voltage on the battery less the voltage on the capacitor. the voltage on the capacitor is higher than the battery so the sum voltage is in reverse polarity for the led and it is off estimated components values : capacitor - the smallest one that stores enough to keep the led off all the time (otherwise it'll light up on half of the cycle when ac is on). i'd estimate it to be in the magnitude of 0.1 uF resistor parallel to capacitor - the same value as needed for the led when it runs on battery both resistors - high power and so that it outputs 15 - 18 V at the peak of the ac the 2 resistors (that may be high power resistors - of the white ceramic type) can be made to stick into the empty bulb from within the base the resistor thats parallel to the capacitor is critical. if it fails open (connection breks etc) then battery (!) and possibly other components blast into pieces. it'd be good to connect some resistors in parallel for higher reliability the diode is any diode capable of the peak value of the AC and some current. 1N4007 is ok i think this is estimation and concept only. plz check if you see any flaws
frikkie6 years ago
good and easy way.I am an amateur magician.let me give you people a tip.You can build or purchase a small but strong fm transmitter/hidden walkie talkie.So you can lit a bulb in a store as well.Without touching it.When you do use an walkie talkie turn the things volume down or disconnect the speaker.You can use an hidden switch in your clothes that turns the radio on and let it transmit.What lits the bulb? A strong radio frequencie that radiates energy which lites the bulb.
volkee6 years ago
excuse me Are you Thai? because the website's name sound perfectly matches a Thai slang
Derin6 years ago
  • when
shai7396 years ago
if you heat the base a bit it should melt the glow and loosen up more easily
jongscx shai7396 years ago
Melting the glow... that sounds like a book I'd like to read... I'd think it'd be about light pollution in major metropolitan areas.
i'd like that book to but usually laser pointer aimed at the photocell makes the trick
shai739 shai7396 years ago
timmy1234s6 years ago
wont the lightbulb have mercury? Besides where do i find these lightbulbs, we use energy efficent ones and they contain mercury!
only fluorescent bulbs use mercury. these bulbs (incandescent) 99% of the time, have a tungsten filament and are filled with an inert gas such as argon.
No you won't get shocked and you don't have to use a ring. To replace the batteries, just open it up and replace the battery. this 'ible has 5/5 stars from me!
puffyfluff6 years ago
Nice. I will consider this next time I go to do something with a lightbulb...
this reminds me of uncle fester from adams family
theXmaker6 years ago
hey you could put a 12v battery (you can extract the small button cells if you want)
nice instructable, this would confuse millions
chiok6 years ago
Hi there, nice instructable and I like the idea. I'm having to modify it though because bayonet lightbulbs are more common in the UK. I'm having trouble with the LED in that it makes the top of the lightbulb bright, but not the rest as the LED only has a narrow viewing angle. Is there anyway to increase the angle or diffuse the light better?
Loser390 chiok6 years ago
Sand the LED. It will diffuse the light.
if i wanted it to last a while, what resistor would i use? .
330 Ohms Should be just right.
kool, i have one of those, 1/4 watt.
that is awesome for 6v and led
About 150 to220 ohm would be fine.
FitUW6 years ago
Great instruction, just built one, and it works damn fine. I put a very small piece of wire on the bottom, an when holding it in my fist it closes the circuit. Thanks for inspiration!
robotix6 years ago
This Is Great! But What I Don't Ware A Ring And If I Did My Friends Would Get Suspicious. I couldn't Think Of Any Other Way Tho. You Couldn't Use A Button Because Then They Would Find It. Hmmmmmm.....
robotix robotix6 years ago
Oh A small Piece Of Wire. Hmmm.......
axle_667 years ago
anything more imposible????
what do you mean?
andrew1016 years ago
gunna try it
servant746 years ago
Thats a lot nicer than the light bulb prank they did when I was in college. Then you could find large flash bulbs that looked like regular light bulbs. When someone was in bed in the dorm, sneak in and replace the light above the sink (one in each dorm room). When the light was switched on for morning activities, a VERY bright flash. Several people would just turn around and go back to bed. ... What was not nice to wake up to on Monday morning :(
Run N Gun7 years ago
Sorry for the many questions, but my light bulb is one piece of glass, and the filament is part of it. how do I take the filament out without ruining the powder inside on the surface of the glass, and without shattering the whole glass? I am starting to think my light bulbs are weird! P.S - I am from the USA, are you? Just because if you are from somewhere else your bulbs might be made differently to accommodate the different wattage you use. - Gun
Run N Gun7 years ago
KipKay or someone else, I found that some light bulbs' bases are glues with a brown solution almost all the way down the metal bottom part that screws into walls and such. In the picture in step 4, I can see that the bottom part of your light bulb doesn't go down as far (maybe it does, but I am just assuming this from the different appearance than mine) . What kind of light bulb do you use for your project? Also, what kind of wires do you use? I am not familiar with technical names for wire, but if there is no other, more memorable name than a technical name would suffice. Thanks again, and awesome project, I can' wait until I'm done! - Gun
Davvik7 years ago
What kind of light bulb was it? Because I got some cheap 25 watt bulbs from where I work and the batteries didn't fit in the metal part.
there are several different sizes of button cell batteries
But not of 3v ones
jankeifer7 years ago
using a 2n3906? schematics please...
Spectrace7 years ago
can you put it in your mouth and it still be safe? Like the guy from the Addams family .. haha... your instructables are awesome.
you could put a piece of tin foil on your tongue to make it light up instead of modifying it so that it doesn't need metal.
that would be coool - you stick it in your mouth and it turns on, then tell people its cause your so smart the light never goes out. then take it out of your mouth and it turns off!
Run N Gun7 years ago
Does it matter what kind of wire I use? If so, what kind. I'm not really the tech kind of guy, so fancy smancy words will not be recognized by my brain of a two year old... Thanks again!! - Gun
Run N Gun7 years ago
When getting a clean metal part I did what you did, but there is a brownish glue sticking the glass to the metal, so the glass doesn't come out. Any suggestions? I am using an ACE hardware light bulb, what do you use? - Gun
RPisces7 years ago
Why no try this with a general purpose amplifying transistor so that you don't HAVE to use a ring or something metal to light it up...
This is a good addition. Any recommendation as to a part number for this? I had one of these as a kid and it worked without an external metal contact.
Any general-purpose amplifying PNP transistor will do. A common one available at ratshack is the 2N3906.
rgshredder7 years ago
Hi, can someone recommend a good led; I bought a few, but they've been pretty lame. Are people putting the led up into the middle of the bulb or just at the base; the intact bulb impedes the ability to put an led up into the middle. Also FYI, radioshack charges up the arse for the batteries, you can buy a two pack at target for the price of one at RS. it seems that the total cost is pushing about 10 bucks...can anyone else share their out the door price for this. LED prices vary like mad. Excellent tutorial by the way
I spend a lot of time at the local trash depot salvaging all types of electronic stuff ,most computors have CR2302 batteries and holders and just about everything electronic made in the last twenty years has LED'S.I have over fifty computors and hundreds of TV innards I usually just strip out the main boards and speakers Knobs screws etc.. and save heaps also many TV's have single amplifier IC's in them if you have any knowledge of electronics they are not hard to identify,then download the data sheet and for practically Zip you can build a neat little amp using all recycled parts even resistors caps and tran sistors.I n fact all the computor system I am using at the moment I got from the dump for nix,a little clean up and a new bios battery and presto I'm online for virtually nothing.
nave7 years ago
isnt kinda dangous to be solder a battery?
phyzome nave7 years ago
Notice that he wraps the wire under the zip tie instead of soldering it. Smart!
Kipkay (author)  nave7 years ago
Yes! That's why I don't suggest it.
Frogz7 years ago
heres a little hint for everyone if you heat the base carefuly with a torch or lighter(or other source of flame) it'll pop right off, 100% intact(the glue breaks easily when hot)
gdawg7 years ago
Another good instructable. Although, it get's a bit wordy when you you talking about how to wire it up. I can understand it as is, but still suggest adding arrows or something to the video. This will make it a little easier to follow.
Run N Gun7 years ago
Hi, I'm having some trouble getting the metal bottom of the light bulb off, the first time I tried the glass blew up in my hand. Is there an easier way to take it off, I am doing something wrong? TIPS WOULD BE EXTREMELY HELPFUL!! Thanks. -Gun
i fell asleep, and when i woke up, my bedhead light had broken! the top had disconnected from the base! must have elbowed it or something.....
Kipkay (author)  Run N Gun7 years ago
Here is what I did. I tried hard to get one bulb loose with no luck and it broke as I show in the video. So, I cleaned out the base to slavage it. To get a good bulb, I gently picked at the edge of the bulb base closest to the glass until I could get a piece of it with snips. Then I used a pair of needle nose pliers and started peeling away at the base until the bulb came free intact.
mechcem7 years ago
how do you clean the base
Doctor What7 years ago
I didn't use gloves....
Shattered Glass + No Gloves = Super Happy Fun Time
nim67 years ago
I was wondering if I can i use a triple a battery, and just tape it to the bulb or something, without letting it show...
cheesynerd7 years ago
I'm going to make one right now! You should check out my instructable. But for some reason you have to search "cheesynerd" with the "people" selection and click on me. hmmm
loki2337 years ago
if u wanna do something potentially interesting (never tried it, just thought of it) you could use the little base piece on the bulb as a pressure switch, if you disconnected it from the insulation around it. might be a bit tough, but i bet with enough hot glue and a little work you could use it as an on/off switch.
HEY, thats so cool i just made one for my brother for Christmas... i went through 4.four.4!!!! globes to get it right my mum knows i used 2, and my dad knows i used 2... 4 its all good though. thanks a lot
easyrider17 years ago
pretty cool! when i was about 10 or so a guy that ran the local skating rink had one of these magic light bulbs and i remember trying to figure out how he could make it light up and i couldn't. that was over 40 yrs. ago sonny. he also had some fake puke and other stuff. what a great guy,thanks Farley where ever you are.
locofocos7 years ago
Nice. but u got a funny voice in all your videos..... :P
Yay a cool Instructable :D Just don't plug it in! Good Job Kipkay, Keep ones like this coming.
Brennn107 years ago
Another amazing hack by KipKay. Keep them coming!! Nice work!
:-) thats cool! But one question, what happens if you plug it in a light socket?? Does it blow up, cause the lithium battery?? :-X
Kipkay (author)  !Andrew_Modder!7 years ago
Yes! Smoke and a big spark!
you never cease to amaze me with your instructables kipkay, keep up the great work please, i enjoy them all!
:-) ok lol. just wanted to no
bowmaster7 years ago
This is so cool I ate my keybored and had to get a new one!!!
whiteoakart7 years ago
Very nice. I think I will use this for my next "science magic" show at the local elementary school. Kids love to be baffled by science.
Ohm7 years ago
Wonderful video and instructable as usual Kipkay neat trick too. I'll have to give this one a go some time.
LinuxH4x0r7 years ago
Cool. I personally prefer the concrete light bulb by whamodyne. I plan using it as a knob for the gears whan I get a car.
Bran7 years ago
Aww man, that is pretty tight! Nice job, as always!
kipkay, you are just amazing!