Introduction: Plane in a Globe - Hacking a PIR Sensor to Do Your Bidding

Picture of Plane in a Globe - Hacking a PIR Sensor to Do Your Bidding
Hi All.

Ever had an idea pop into your head and you can't stop thinking about it?  Well my idea was to have a tiny plane spinning inside a light bulb, activated by a sensor!  Yes I know - not much of an idea but there it is. 

First I prowled the internet trying to find the right type of sensor and I came across the PIR sensor.  These are really ingenious and work by sensing infrared radiation. Everything emits some low level radiation, and the hotter something is, the more radiation is emitted.

I purchased a couple from Ebay and started to try and hack them by using a relay.  After much frustration I decided to give this up and try another avenue.  I found a heap of articles using arduino but I wanted to keep it simple.  In the end I decided to use a 8 LED Light PIR Motion Sensor .  The sensor had everything I needed to enable me to hack away with ease.

So here's my idea come to life - kind of.  After much breaking of light bulbs I finally managed to complete the project.

Hope you Enjoy.

Step 1: Things to Get

Picture of Things to Get

Parts List

1. 3v geared motor. You can get these here. this one has 15 revolutions every minute - nice and slow.

2. 2 X 5mm LED's. I used yellow ones.  They can be purchased here on Ebay

3. Plastic diffusers for the LED's.  I used some from a set of solar LED's.  You don't have to do this but it makes the LED light softer.

4. Small peice of dowel wood.

5. PIR sensor light - you can buy these here

6.  PIR sensor (just the sensor).  Buy these here

7. Copper wire - I used 2 types, 1 thin and 1 a little thicker.  These can be purchased from your local hobby shop.

8. various coloured wire

9. Various brass attachments.  i purchased these from my loacl hardware store. 

10. Samll square peice of wood for base

11. Battery holders.  The voltage I used was 7.5v so I used a 3v and a 4.5v battery holder.  These can be purchased from your local electronic shop

12. Tiny plane! I used this one


1. Phillips head screwdriver

2. Hot glue

3. Soldering iron

4. Dremmel

5. Drill

6.  Pliers

Step 2: Hacking the Sensor - Pulling It Apart.

Picture of Hacking the Sensor - Pulling It Apart.
Below is how to hack the PIR LED sensor.  Take your time and be careful with the cutting!

  1. Un-screw the back of the sensor
  2. Un-screw the circuit board
  3. carefully remove the circuit board from the cover

Step 3: Hacking the Sensor - Preperation

Picture of Hacking the Sensor - Preperation


1. First you need to cut off the LED's. Make sure you cut them off at the top and leave the wire sticking out the top.

2. Add the battery leads. Make sure that the polarities are correct

3. Solder wires to 3 sets of the LED legs. These will be attached to your motor and LED's.  If you want to only the sensor to activate one thing like a motor, then you only have to add 1 set of wires to any of the LED legs.

4. Next cut off the PIR sensor - BE CAREFUL!

5. Solder wires to the legs where the PIR used to be

6. Solder the new PIR sensor to the wires making sure you have the sensor on correctly.  If could also just solder back on the PIR sensor you cut off.  Just make sure that you leave some wire on the PIR sensor itself.

7. Solder on the motor.

Note: Test - The motor should come on for a minute and then turn off. If you move in front of the sensor the motor should come back on. If not you probably have wired-up something wrong re-check everything and try again.

Step 4: Hacking the Sensor - Modding the Case

Picture of Hacking the Sensor - Modding the Case

Next is to mod the original case so you can put the circuit board back in without it taking-up much room. This will enable you to use the on/off switch on the PIR sensor and will also protect the circuit board


1. Use a dremmel to cut away the sides.

2. screw back in the circuit board.

3. Pull the wires through the LED holes.

Done! Now you can use the sensor for anything that takes your fancy.

Step 5: Modding the Globe

Picture of Modding the Globe

Now you have your sensor ready to go, the next step is to put it into something. 

Modding a Globe
There is heaps of web info on how to pull the insides out of a globe.  If you need instructions more in-depth than the below – check out this from TeamDroid.  My only suggestion is to get an old style filament globe and not a halogen, as these are hard to do.  The globe in the pictures is a halogen and this broke on me when I tried to get the insides out.


1. First remove the little piece of metal at the bottom of the globe.  Pliers usually will get this off.

2. Next use needle nose pliers to break the black glass at the bottom and remove

3. Inside the globe you will see a glass tube, break this and push a screwdriver down the hole.  This will separate the glass tube from the globe.

4. Next you will need to make the hole bigger – this is the dangerzone!  It’s very easy to break the globe so take your time and take little chips out of the glass with a pair of needle nose pliers.  One trick is to trim off some of the tin from the bayonet – this way you can make the hole a little bigger which will help remove the glass.

5. If the globe has white frosting inside, use some salt to get rid of it.

Tip – Hold the globe in a rag so if it breaks it doesn’t cut you.

Hopefully now you have a hollow globe

Step 6: Adding the Insides

Picture of Adding the Insides

Now you need to stick something in your globe.  I decided on the below.


1. Solder 2 pieces of copper to the motor legs.  Make sure they are straight.
2. Next bend a piece of thin copper as shown and solder onto the motor.
3. Superglue the little plane onto the other end of the thin copper.

1. Bend 4 pieces of thin copper as shown below. 
2. Solder the bent ends to the LED’s making sure everything is straight.
3. Add the diffusers to the end of the LED’s.

To ensure that everything sits right inside the globe, you will need to make some type of support which the copper wires can go through.  I decided on a piece of dowel which worked well

1. Shape the piece of wood so it fits tightly into the bottom of the globe
2. Mark-out on the dowel where to drill the holes.  Initially I cut out a small piece to use but decided to make all of my shaping and drilling on a big piece which I cut down later.
3. Drill

Step 7: Sticking Everything Together

Picture of Sticking Everything Together


1. Carefully put the plane and LED’s inside the globe
2. Push the other ends of the copper wire through the dowel.
3. Push dowel into place into the end of the globe.
4. Straighten everything up inside and once done use hot glue to stick everything into place.
5. Cut the excess copper wire off and attach some wires.  It is also good to add some heat shrink.  The wires that are shown in the pictures below I decided not to go with.  Instead I used some twisted wire that I pulled from an old computer. 

Now you should have a globe with a plane and 2 LED’s inside – who’d have thought!

Initially I went with blue LED's but decided that these looked too cold and went for some yellow ones.  You can see in some of the images that there are blue ones sometimes and yellow other times.  If you are thinking of making this, make sure you decide what colour you want first as it was a pain in the ar#& trying to change them.

Step 8: Creating the Stand

Picture of Creating the Stand

To make the stand I decided to go use some brass plumbing fittings.


1. Find some fittings which fit the end of the globe.  This bit is up to you on how you want it to look.  I just went to me local hardware store and found a few fittings that I thought would look a bit like a light socket.

2. Solder a piece of brass pipe to the fittings.

3. Solder more fittings to the end.  The end fittings are there so you can screw them into the base.  What that base is, is really up to you.  I found a copper pot at a trift shop which worked a treat.

Step 9: Wiring Everything Up

Picture of Wiring Everything Up

Finally- the last step is to wire-up everything


1. Thread the wire from the globe through the brass pipe to the base.  Screw together as shown.

1. Connect the wires from the sensor to the wires from the globe making sure polarities are correct.

2. Drill a hole in the base and add the PIR sensor.  Hot glue into place

5. Solder or glue in the globe to the brass fitting.  I managed to screw mine in a fair way by dremeling the thread of the coppoer fitting.

3. Add the battery.

4. Test.

Step 10: Done

Picture of Done

That’s it!  You should have a pretty neat looking um…plane in a globe?  Set-it up in a place that gets some foot traffic and watch it come to life.

Thanks for checking it out and if you have any questions let me know.


bhalliday (author)2017-02-16

this is by far my favorite ible

lonesoulsurfer (author)bhalliday2017-02-16

Thanks! I was thinking of re-visiting this ible' again soon to make a different version of it.

Chris Bilton (author)2016-04-24

mega !

spylock (author)2013-05-13

Nice,it gives me some other good ideas.

florlayamp (author)2013-04-17

Very cool!

Thanks dude

Thanks dude

foobart (author)2013-05-05

Good work. I love the simplicity and the overall look.

curiousgood (author)2013-04-30

Hello! Nice project! I was wondering why you cut off the light's PIR sensor only to add one back on? Was it because the you wanted to be able to move it around?

You don't have to do this step if you don't want to - it all depends on where you want the sensor. I did it so I could move the pir sensor to where I wanted it.

jlyvers743 (author)2013-04-27

This is a very cool lamp!! All your links to the materials is wonderful. Thank you for posting!

KickSucker2013 (author)2013-04-25

This is one of the coolest little hacks I've seen, nice work!

Machine (author)2013-04-19

What an astoundingly simple and excellent flying model lamp. Beautiful. Thanks for showing us and may I ask what is that superb music that played when the video of the lamp was being shown?

lonesoulsurfer (author)Machine2013-04-23

The song is: "Music For A Found Harmonium" from the Cafe Del Mar The Best Of album

deadsnakebiting (author)2013-04-23

I think this is very cool project. I have small grandchildren so in the next year or so, I will start making these for Christmas "stocking stuffers" for them. Should be an instant hit. Thanks so much for freely sharing this with me!

Anytime - glad you liked it

ddhix (author)2013-04-23

This is a great idea, really very neat looking, perfect for a cabinet of curiosities.

I'd like to do something similar, except try to use some planetary gears to create our solar system, with the LED in the center as the sun.

lonesoulsurfer (author)ddhix2013-04-23

Love the idea of sticking a solar system in one. If you get around to making one post a picture so i can check it out!

ChrysN (author)2013-04-19

This is so cool, I love it!

lonesoulsurfer (author)ChrysN2013-04-21

Cheers - love your work too!
Good luck in the light and lamp contest : )

ChrysN (author)lonesoulsurfer2013-04-22

Thanks, good luck to you too!

TheFullMetalAlchemist (author)2013-04-20

Awesome idea. I suspect you could sell a tonne of these, you should go into production;)

JKPieGuy (author)2013-04-14

Very cool honestly!
Only thing I have to say, is that I hope people use old burnt out light bulbs to do this project instead of ruining perfectly good ones.

my wookie (author)JKPieGuy2013-04-20

especially since there Edison bulbs and those may not be around for much longer.

jamlad (author)2013-04-19

Really cute, I like it! I too was reminded of the old Paramount intro.

I assume the sensor isn't binary on/off? It would be a even slicker if the brightness/speed was proportional to the distance of the viewer. I'm definitely adding this one to my 'potential projects' list.

stringstretcher (author)jamlad2013-04-19

Arduino + ultrasonic sensor will do that in a jiffy. And won't cost you an arm and a leg, just the arm. :) Worth it!

stumitch (author)2013-04-19

GREAT! I really like this project... unique, interesting, well documented and worth a try!

danamark (author)2013-04-19

Nah, no plane, want old school zeppelin or modern space shuttle. :)

behruz.omid (author)2013-04-19


neonix (author)2013-04-19

This is awesome. Very nice steampunk feel :)

davidandora (author)2013-04-19

This is so fantastic! I hope you win!

KROKKENOSTER (author)2013-04-19

Looks interesting this is ideal to give to your wife/lover/husband who has everything

DurocShark (author)2013-04-19

This is awesome! My 9 year old daughter is already thinking fairies, dragons, etc... Because I really needed another project. LOL!

agis68 (author)2013-04-18

lovely!!!nice job done

lonesoulsurfer (author)agis682013-04-18


f.dufourg (author)2013-04-18

Good job, very well done and really inspiring.....

lonesoulsurfer (author)f.dufourg2013-04-18

Cheers dude

sitearm (author)2013-04-18

@lonesoulsurfer; Hi! I could not resist your Intractable (favorite spelling) title and watched and Liked and Tweeted your video... "it's a tiny airplane in a lightbulb; that's all I'm sayin'" Cheers! : ) Site

lonesoulsurfer (author)sitearm2013-04-18

Thanks for checking it out. It's good to see that i'm not the only one who digs planes in light bulbs ; )

doctorbigdaddy (author)2013-04-18

This has to be one of the neatest instructables ever! I've been reading these since they started and this one has really got me going on trying to "MAKE "one! Thanks for a great project and very well done video.

Thanks mate - have fun making one!

WVvan (author)2013-04-18

Most excellent!!

deltafour (author)2013-04-18

Now, That's Bad ASS!

tbo0013 (author)2013-04-14

I just received a commercial bulb. Now I know what to do with it. Thanks so much for the instructable.
ps. your link does not work under modding a globe.

lonesoulsurfer (author)tbo00132013-04-15

Thanks for the heads-up. All sorted now

hauntedworkshop (author)2013-04-14

Very nice work! I like it a lot. I may have to make something similar now. Thanks for putting this up.

Cheers - If you do make something similar post a picture so i can check it out!

bricabracwizard (author)2013-04-14

I think this is a great project....reminds me a bit of the old universal films where they had the plane circling the earth...good work. You said that to remove frosting from inside the bulb use salt. How does that work? Do you just shake the salt around inside the bulb? Or........? Thanks.

Thanks mate.
If you put some table salt into the globe and swish it around for a bit the frosting inside comes away really easily. Once it was removed, I pushed a smakl peice of rag into the bulb and swished that around for a bit to clean-up any left over residue.

jacobarun (author)2013-04-14

Can you please link to all the Stuff you used.

About This Instructable




Bio: I've always liked pulling things apart - it's the putting back together again that I have some issues with.
More by lonesoulsurfer:Display Frame With LED'sSimple Mini Fire PistonLightning Detector and Counter
Add instructable to: