Introduction: Mysterious Lightbulb Prank

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!

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.

Step 7: Try It Out!

Picture of Try It Out!

You can use a small piece of wire concealed in your hand to make contact between the base bottom and the side to activate the LED. I made it work by using my ring. When you hand it to someone it goes out! You can also ask someone to pick it up and hand it to you and then when you grab it, light it up! They'll never figure it out! NOTE: Be sure to not mix up this modified lightbulb with a real because plugging it in to 120 volts will cause some serious smoke and other potential hazards. Have fun, be safe!


RaymondR6 (author)2016-04-01

I did something similar to this over 40 years ago using a penlight bulb and a AAA cell. The light was weak, but the effect was good enough to fool a few persons.

becker990 (author)2016-03-27

great great great project!! thanks 4 sharing

Yonatan24 (author)2015-12-14

Hi, I've added your project to the "Unusual Uses for Light-Bulbs" Collection

This is the link If you are interested:

DFree (author)2011-10-09

I think it would be great if someone stuck this in their mouth.

TacticalTrumpet (author)DFree2012-03-08

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.

drivanovich (author)2014-02-14

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

mrnadnad (author)2013-03-22

great idea! Next time a lightbulb breaks- I know what I will do

TheGeniusCreates (author)2013-03-18

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-Five (author)2012-09-25

I finally found Uncle Fester !!!

tstilwell2 (author)2011-09-29

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

diy_bloke (author)tstilwell22011-10-30

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

fishfryer (author)2010-06-18

there isn't much solder on my base and i can't get more to stick. help please?

Ugifer (author)fishfryer2011-09-26

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.

fishfryer (author)Ugifer2011-10-07

it's never too late to build random stuff! I'll try this out, but even if it doesn't work, thanks anyway!

DETHKLOK00 (author)2010-06-11

i used this prank at a friends party and scared the crap out of everyone lol

soapdude (author)2010-06-07

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?

Hugsdrummer (author)2009-01-07

what happens if you pluged the bulb in?

Gene (author)Hugsdrummer2010-04-15

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.

twocvbloke (author)Hugsdrummer2009-03-28

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... :)

agis68 (author)twocvbloke2009-07-23

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!!!

skipernicus (author)Hugsdrummer2009-03-17

The world would end. Actually, I think it's pretty likely that you'd blow a fuse, and possibly ruin the lamp.

Hugsdrummer (author)skipernicus2009-07-14

That would be a whole other prank.

brooklynlord (author)2009-11-28

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.

Gene (author)brooklynlord2010-04-15

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.)

inventordude14 (author)2010-02-06

 I liked the prank my friend couldnt make it light

11010010110 (author)2008-10-14

now throw in a transistor and it lights up bright if you touch it just with ya hand !

jongscx (author)110100101102008-11-23

I'm sorry, how exactly?

11010010110 (author)jongscx2008-11-23

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 (author)110100101102009-07-29

but it would light up if someone else held it.

555mst555 (author)2009-07-12

how come we can't solder directly to the batteries.....does it have a ayer of something that repels solder?

twocvbloke (author)555mst5552009-07-23

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

rebelious_nerd (author)2009-06-30

You know that you can pick one of those things up at a hardware store for a few cents right?

AT (author)2008-01-04

Nice! Uncle Fester would be proud.

WhiteTigerTails (author)AT2008-01-14

Another Adams Family lover!

Kayjay (author)WhiteTigerTails2008-02-07

kinda sux that its like not on tv any more used to be my favorite show lol

ArmChairQB (author)Kayjay2008-11-23

HULU.COM has the shows

Vulcanator (author)ArmChairQB2009-05-04

HULU rocks

-Hugs tightly- Thank you, thank you, thank you!

woody558 (author)2009-04-01

On the first time you took the bulb apart. Why couldn't you use that?

volquete (author)2009-01-12

im a practicing magician, and this will help alot, thanks!

volquete (author)2009-01-12


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?

superbeetlejosh (author)2008-02-23

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.

mettaurlover (author)Esmagamus2009-01-07

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...

JellyWoo (author)2008-09-04

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

frikkie (author)JellyWoo2008-11-26

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.

JellyWoo (author)frikkie2008-11-26

oh, kk.

Berkin (author)JellyWoo2008-11-25

I have an idea. Go pick up a Power MOSFET transistor from RadioShack or somewhere. Wire that up to the LED. Schematic later.

hammertong (author)JellyWoo2008-11-24

The batteries have a low voltage, so you won't get shocked, and your finger is not conductive enough to light the LED.

About This Instructable




Bio: Tinkerer, hackster and prankster. Hit me up on Facebook: Thanks for checking out my Instructables!
More by Kipkay:The Garage Door Alert!Amazing Way to Test Batteries!Mighty Mini Fog Maker
Add instructable to: