Introduction: Plasma Bulb With Clock Gear

Picture of Plasma Bulb With Clock Gear
I am a Steampunker from Germany and today I try to create my first Intructables instruction.
I hope you understand all otherwise ask and I will give my best to answer.

Today I will show you how you build a rotating Plasma Stream in a bulb.
You can already watch a video of this machine.

More pictures and stuff you will find on my German Website Steampunk Design under "Werkstatt" and "Werkstatt / Plasma Wirbler".

Step 1: Find the Right Camera

Picture of Find the Right Camera

First of all you buy a disposable camera from Fujifilm or other one from the picture.
If you buy other models you will find inside an AAA cell instead of the right AA cell.
In this case the soldering points for the power output are on an other place.

After removing the paper you will find a plastic camera without any screws.

Step 2: Open the Case

Picture of Open the Case

Remove or loose the plastic flaps on every side and open the camera.
Now you can pull out the flashligt module.
The capacitor often is charged.
If you touch the board with your fingers on the wrong place you get a hit.

Step 3: Remove Some Parts

Picture of Remove Some Parts

Before you do anything bridge the capacitor with a screwdriver.
After this you must remove the Flashlight, Capacitor and the switch for the flash.
I do it with a solder pen.
So you can use these parts in other projects.
If you are finished the board looks on the part side like this.

Step 4: Find the Right Connection Points

Picture of Find the Right Connection Points

On the back you must solder 6 wires on the right place the picture will help you.
For the power input I use an adjustable DC power supply.

Don't use more than 3Volt otherwise the will burns out.
The module takes around 350mA.

Then you can use two wires to take away the power switch from the module.
It makes more sense as to bridge the two solder points on the circuit and switch the power supply on/off.

The wire of the high power output of the circuit goes to the middle contact of the bulb.
The three arms outside of my bulb are connected to the power -

Step 5: The Right Bulb

Not every bulb starts to glow!
Only some special types who filled with Neon gas produce a glow or a plasma stream.
I use a Bulb which makes a flickering light in form of a candle.
Try some different models everyone looks and works different.

Step 6: Build Your Own Design

Picture of Build Your Own Design

Once the bulb is glow you must think about a nice design.
I build a reduction gear from a old clock and use a small engine from a CD reader.
Mounted all on a reversed bowl and you get a rotating plasma stream.

In a next step I will add a control unit for rotation speed and Plasma power.

Now it's time to went in your garage and give your best.
I hope in some weeks I see more crazy plasma machines here!

Your Admiral Aaron Ravensdale


Jan_Henrik (author)2014-05-02

Very nice, but the hight voltage emitts also much radiactivity! D:

jakeonian (author)Jan_Henrik2014-05-08

No it doesn't. You probably get more from your computer monitor.

Jan_Henrik (author)jakeonian2014-05-08

LCD, so no ;P

sehrgut (author)Jan_Henrik2015-06-05

There is absolutely no radioactivity in any high-voltage circuit, from the smallest (like this) to the largest multi-story Tesla coil. It's absolute balderdash, with no basis in the physics of this or any other conceivable universe to say so. I have no idea where you get off making wild-eyed claims like that.

Jan_Henrik (author)sehrgut2015-06-08

Hi Sehrgut, i dont know if you where asleep in physics but there is a thing called Bremsstrahlung ( you should know it ), which is a process, which emitts radiation.

Creak (author)Jan_Henrik2017-01-08

Releasing radiation and releasing radioactivity are two entirely different things. For example light and electromagnetism are forms of radiation. Where radioactivity would refer to the ejection of atoms which decay to release radiation. This rig contains no such capacity

sehrgut (author)Jan_Henrik2015-11-08

Outside of a specially-constructed x-ray tube, you're still not accelerating electrons anywhere near enough to observer Bremsstrahlung with simply a high-voltage generator.

Creak (author)sehrgut2017-01-08

A tesla coil does release electrons.

Creak (author)sehrgut2017-01-08

I've learned a new word, so thank you

Mr Tesla (author)2013-10-18

What did you use as your power source?

I make last week some discoveries!
If you don't connect the High Power (-) to battery (-) and use instead Earth / Ground the light gets more powerfully and the transistor don't get hot anymore!
So you can power up "stable" to 4.0 Volts!

I think it becomes hot because the "backfire" from the AC current is too much for the transistor.
So if you use the AC current from the circuit you should also use Earth / Ground to beed of the high power!!!

Do you have a wiring diagram that shows how to use higher voltages safely?
I have an AC to 3volts dc adaptor I can use.

step 4 on the picture you see the wirering. on the left upper corner you see 2 cables batt- and bulb- remove the bulb- and connect it to earth...

With that change, what would be the new maximum voltage that could be supplied?

Wermo (author)2013-06-20

Cool steampunk idea bro

nerd7473 (author)2013-04-15


dd32123 (author)2012-06-13

hold down button
wait until the flash is charged
remove the battery
press the button on the camera to make it flash, or tap the thin copper contacts together
it will flash, the compacitor will be drained

ezarate (author)2012-04-19

that is insane!

pro5200 (author)2012-02-22

so how to discharge the electrical load ?

make a short circuit with a screwdriver on the pins of the capacitor...

pro5200 (author)2012-02-22

I am a little confused to connect the wires, can you provide with schematic drawings ?

PhotonPunk (author)2011-12-08

This has to be one of my favorite things on instructables.

positr_n (author)2011-11-14

you can find a 2 pack of the right fujifilm cameras for under $10 at Walmart. I followed the pictures and this instructable worked out great. The transistor got a bit hot for me. Try holding an old CFL up to the neon bulb :D

cberry3 (author)2011-10-09

i love these light projects and i really want to try one but the only thing stopping me is the lack of a good explanation of the wiring. "you need to hook up six wires here" doesnt really help me too much especially where as i'm not all that good with electronics yet. maybe some more steps or a seperate ible on the subject?

halzark (author)2011-09-21

You have this device working on a DC power supply. Will it also work on the 2 AA batteries? If so should I solder the batteries in parallel as Junophor did to increase the current and not the voltage?

Great project and pictures!

Yes, you are right it also works with batteries but the circuit need nearly 250mA. For this application an also for desktop use is a DC power supplie better...

Power notes: duplicated with a Fujifilm Quicksnap DCF (disposable camera flash) in USA and a GE flicker flame bulb (PC 81167, Desc 3CAC/FF/CD1). Bench supply indicated only about 100-150mA drawn at 1.5VDC. Found that at 2.4VDC, current draw about the same. However, the transistor (D2687) went from an operating temp of 45C to ~125C. Did not go higher voltage than that. An alkaline battery can run 1.7V OC new, so 2 batteries could kill the transistor.

Note Kodak-brand flash units (so far) do not work - output voltage is only 325V, which may have something to do with it.

Anyone have specs on the transistor? I have only come vague indications that it may be related to a chroma-type transistor.

For what its worth.

Hi Apprentice Wizard,
Thanks for the spezification.

I make last week some discoverys!
If you don't connect the High Power (-) to battery (-) and use instaed Earth / Ground the light gets more powerfully and the transistor don't get hot anymore!
So you can power up "stable" to 4.0 Volts!

I think it becomes hot because the "backfire" from the AC current is too much for the transistor.

I was thinking about mounting this to a costume, as a mechanical heart. (I can't attach the suit to the wall for the power supply! LOL) I have a separate power source for the turning platform (I'm using a revolving police light style base) but I want to use just the two AA batteries to power the plasma lamp and the three "sparking arms." Will this work?

If you will wear it on a costume I would use instead of AA batteries two "C" or "D" cells... then it works for hours...

thank you for the suggestions! Again, Great Looking Project!

thethomas98 (author)2011-09-25

Bridging the capacitor with a srewdriver will drain it, but it also could cause it to burst. I would instead use a resistor to bridge the cap. You can pick them up relatively cheap from a radio shack or electronics hobby store. I would bridge the capacitor with a resistor until you get no voltage readings with a meter between the two legs of the cap.

gskaggs (author)2011-09-15

Very cool.. Love it! Thanks for sharing.

rstaron (author)2011-08-27

Hello - Very nice instructable. One questions - what brand(s) of cameras are you using? Can't identify the one in the photo.......thanx.


iwoodinspire (author)rstaron2011-09-07

click on the "i" at the top left of the picture and it will take you to a page that lets you enlarge the photo. then if you use windows and firefox, just push "ctrl" and "+" and it will zoom in even more.

I believe you won't recognize them unless you know german though :)

rstaron (author)iwoodinspire2011-09-08

Much thanks!

beehard44 (author)2011-09-01

any chance this can create a resonance cascade?
lol nice 'ible

SMarshall14 (author)2011-08-31

it said clock gear i think its more of a time keeping device (it goes round at a steady rate)

rstaron (author)2011-08-27

My bad - I went too fast - it is a very, very interesting instructable and I will be using it in my class when teaching electricity.


sunshiine (author)2011-08-26

Super Instructable! You did an awesome job! Thanks for sharing.

arpruss (author)2011-08-25

Is it safe to bridge the capacitor with a screwdriver? I would think that it would be better to use a slower discharge method. Last time I was discharging a camera flash capacitor, I hooked up a multimeter set to measure voltage, and watched as the voltage went to about 10, and then bridged it for the last little bit. Took a couple of minutes, but it felt safer.

undefinedmonkey (author)2011-08-23

Excellent tutorial! I put a bulb & driver circuit together this weekend with very little difficulty (beware the capacitor.)

Thanks for posting this! What an awesome project.

PKM (author)2011-08-22

I think you're fast becoming one of my favourite makers- I love steampunk, high voltage, camera flashes and unusual lighting. With all the new uses you've shown I'm going to have to get some disposable cameras and get experimenting again.

I just start with PicAxe chips and a stirling engine...
We can learn from each other :-)

I will stay tuned for you new results...

lhall1 (author)2011-08-18

I too have ben shocked, on my thumb it was numb for 3 hours after words

theawesomeninja (author)2011-08-17

I have no idea what this is but it looks @#$#$ AWESOME!!!!!

showup (author)2011-08-17

Very nice

fightthemachine (author)2011-08-15

Beautiful work, I'm inspired to build a plasma bulb of my own, but I had a quick question... Would using 2 of the same circuit taken from the cameras make the light and sparks more intense? My idea is to have a single bulb powered by 2 circuits and then add as many moving arms around it to find a nice glow/balance, but as I would like to use 6 arms, I would think doubling the input to the bulb would be needed? Any thoughts on this, or perhaps you have tried it? Thanks alot!

jonnyboy323 (author)2011-08-15

Just one question, what kind of clock is the gear set and french hammer from? I thought hammers were only in alarm clocks, but I am no Horologist :) A picture would be awesome!
Oh an of course, I LOVE THIS PROJECT!!!! Your work is awesome!


I only buy some ald wall clock gears like this:
Often you get a bundle of 3-4 clocks with hammers. Then I build the right gear ratio myself...

About This Instructable




Bio: Steampunk-Design builds and developed the most modern technical equipment, fine jewelry and futuristic devices implemented with funds and materials of the Victorian era.
More by Admiral Aaron Ravensdale:Steampunk Picaxe protected SketchbookWaving Key Flower a Steampunk versionSteampunk Laptop
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