Introduction: Scanner Parts - Desk Lamp

Picture of Scanner Parts - Desk Lamp

This instructable shows you how to make a desk lamp out of scrounged scanner parts and a few extras from Home Depot.

I have set up a small solar array, controller and a storage battery. I wanted to make some low power lighting that I can use in my office that would not consume a lot of power.

I had a bunch of scanner parts lying around and decided to put them to good use.

Step 1: Get Your Parts

Picture of Get Your Parts

Scrounge a scanner head and pick up the following parts from Home Depot:

1. Scanner Head

2. 6' Lamp cord and switch - $3.99
3. Low voltage lighting base - 2 for $5.95
4. PVC 1" adapter threaded on one end, slip to fit on the other - $.87
5. 12" x 1" diameter PVC threaded pipe, (nipple) - $1.12

Tools needed:

1 1/4" hole saw
electric drill
hack saw
hot glue gun
solder iron & solder
shrink tubing
12" ruler
side cutters

Remove the lens and camera electronics and save for your next project.
Keep the displayed power circuit in place on the scanner head.

Step 2: Trim the Low Voltage Base

Picture of Trim the Low Voltage Base

Take your knife and trim the extruded ridges from the base plate.
Rotate the base and trim all the ridges.

Step 3: Remove Upper Section From Base Plate

Picture of Remove Upper Section From Base Plate

Take your hack saw and remove the displayed section from the base plate.
The 1" PVC adapter will not fit unless you remove this section.

Step 4: Attach PVC Adapter

Picture of Attach PVC Adapter

Press the 1" PVC adapter (slip to fit side) onto the trimmed base plate.

Step 5: Attach and Trim PVC Pipe

Picture of Attach and Trim PVC Pipe

Screw the PVC pipe into the threaded adapter and use your hack saw to trim the pipe:

I trimmed my pipe to 12" from the base plate. You can adjust yours to fit your needs.

Lower for brighter focused light, Higher for wider disfused light.

Step 6: Remove Reflector Side of Scanner Head

Picture of Remove Reflector Side of Scanner Head

You will have to play this one by ear. I am sure that each scanner head is slightly different.

Remove the screws and carefully remove the base plate.

Be careful not to damage the light tubing when you remove the cover.

Notice the light tube reflectors that run along the slot for the light tube.

Step 7: Length Measurment

Picture of Length Measurment

Measure the mid point on the base plate to properly align the hole you are going to drill.

Step 8: Measure Center Point for Drill Hole

Picture of Measure Center Point for Drill Hole

Use the ruler to determine the center point on the base plate for both length and width so you mounting hole will be aligned properly.

Step 9: Drill Your Mounting Hole

Picture of Drill Your Mounting Hole

Center punch the location where your length and width measurements cross and drill your mounting hole.

You will need to drill an 1 1/4" hole in the base plate.

This hole is slightly under sized. You will need to file the hole slightly larger to fit the PVC pipe.

I used an old soldering iron to enlarge the hole.

Step 10: Install the Scanner Head

Picture of Install the Scanner Head

Insert the PVC pipe into the Scanner Head and hot glue the pipe in place.

After hot gluing, turn the lamp right side up and make sure that the scanner head is aligned.

It takes a minute for the hot glue to cool enough to become solid. This will give you plenty of time to align the scanner head.

Step 11: Trim the Power Circuit Wires

Picture of Trim the Power Circuit Wires

We need to trim away the electrical connector in order to solder the lamp cord with the switch to the power supply leads.

Step 12: Solder the Lamp Cord

Picture of Solder the Lamp Cord

Double twist the power leads on to the lamp cord and solder the leads.

Be sure that you run some heat shrink tubing onto the leads before you connect the leads.

After soldering slide the heat shrink tubing on to the bare sections of wire and heat with the soldering iron to secure the connections.

Step 13: Finish Up

Picture of Finish Up

In my application I will add some wire connectors and attach the light to my storage battery.

You may want to attach the lamp cord to an AC to DC adapter.

Notice the voltage and current readings on my power supply.

The lamp is running off of 12 volts and consuming 370ma of current.

The lamp could be just a bit brighter, for my taste, but it is enough light to read by.

I am thinking of adding a second light tube and power supply from another scanner head that I have.



jpitz31 (author)2015-11-03

yes, it is a fluorescent tube. Check to see if there is any part numbers on the tube, then google to see if you can find the specs for the tube. That should determine the input and output requirements. But I used the driver board that came with the scanner to drive the tube. There is a part number on that as well which gave me the specs on the driver board.

Yonatan24 (author)2015-11-03

So is it a fluorescent bulb? If it works on a couple thousand volts

peterrabid9 (author)2007-01-30

I'm new at this so I don't understand something... Isn't a power adapter required to bring the voltage down to an acceptable level for the little circuit board? I would assume these things consume a very small amount of voltage. Does the board pass back anything that's not needed for the light to operate? Thanks, this is a question that's been bothering me.

trebuchet03 (author)peterrabid92007-01-31

In the main picture -- do you see that box in the background that says 12 in green numbers and .37 in red? That' the power supply he's using to test ;) 12V consuming .37A His board looks almost identical to mine -- just put in the supply voltage and it outputs the appropriate voltage for the bulb (several thousand volts) ;)

RoboCato (author)trebuchet032015-08-08

Here is what I am having a difficult time understanding.. so you are telling me that when I put 12V AC from the wall connected to this little driver board for the scanner bulb, the board outputs several thousand volts?!? How is that even possible? I don't quite understand. So several things: I tried testing the two white wires coming from the board to the bulb itself.. I assume it's in DC, but both wires are white, there's no polarity. So it should be AC - and since it's an inverter which is what makes up the tiny driver board - but when I test it for AC voltage, it sparks and shorts everything out. If I test it for the highest setting in DC it does the same. Secondly, why would it make sense to take 120V AC power supply, convert it to 12V DC with a bridge rectifier, connect it to this tiny scanner driver board, only to have it inverter to AC? This is a map of what's happening... 120V AC -> 12V DC -> several thousand volts AC. Why is this? Is this even right? Which leads me into my third question, what is coming out of the driver board - AC or DC? How much power is coming from the board to the bulb, and why can I not test it on my multimeter without it shorting my multimeter, bulb and board?

Here's what I got, I put in an AC transformer (center-tap 6V-0V-6V) rated at 120V input, with a 12V AC output at 500mA power rating. A full-wave bridge rectifier utilizing four 1N4007 rectifier diodes, a single 2200uF capacitor on the output. This gives me a steady 11.9V-12.0V DC voltage. That then powers the scanner bulb driver board. This board is a Cotek brand, no ratings listed on it, but the model I found that is identical to it online is rated at 6VDC; however, this board won't run on 6V, only 12V or higher input - otherwise 6VDC only powers about 1/3 of the light bulb. The driver board has a capacitor on the GND and PWR rated at 100uF, a small round inductor, a small package inverter with two inputs and six outputs, with two white wires running to the bulb. That's it. What am I missing? By the way, the bulb gets VERY hot after just one minute of use at the necessary 12V DC at 500mA. What do I need to do at this point?

Bob7k (author)trebuchet032007-03-09

im very interested in getting any voltage/amperage i need to test my projects, know whare i can get something like that cheep? i just blew a large chunk of money trying to get my internet working, router wasnt compatable with the modem...

peterrabid9 (author)trebuchet032007-01-31

I want one. :-D Thanks for the reply, just making sure I get the idea... Good thing I asked, I might have blown off my arms.

mad hatter503 (author)2012-01-19

When connecting the switched power cord to the unit, it is a good idea to stagger the splices, one up towards the unit, one below that splice. Yes, it is only 12v, Yes, shrink tubing was used, but it is always to utilize some caution!
Thanks for sharing your idea!

jpitz31 (author)mad hatter5032012-01-19

Thanks mad hatter503 for your tips. Looking forward to seeing some of your instructables.



mcarugo1 (author)2011-08-20

I linked the inverter's wires with a ac cable from an old stereo, as I plugged in the inverter blowed up... where I did wrong?

jpitz31 (author)mcarugo12011-08-20


Check the specs on the inverter. Most DC inverters Input DC voltage (low current) and then boost the output to run high voltage (around 2000 v) . By connecting AC to a DC inverter, you will get the results you experienced. ;-)

Always try to google the specs on any component before you connect power to it.

If you cannot find any specs then start with DC and proceed carefully.



Ampix0 (author)2010-12-29

How would I run my bulb off batteries? I tried 2AA's and only like the first inch of the lamp barely lit up.

jpitz31 (author)Ampix02010-12-29

Hello Ampix, You need at least 12 volts to run the light. Get yourself a small 12 volt lead acid rechargeable battery. I picked up a NP12-12T sealed battery at Frys Electronics.



Ampix0 (author)jpitz312010-12-29

oh that is huge! XD I think im going to go with some simple LEDs for my project.

Thats what she said

w0rm5 (author)2010-02-10

Hi, I built one also, but didn´t used the scanner parts for the base, used an old lamp base I had. Works perfectly. 

Great instructable.

livesteamfan (author)2009-08-06

Mine takes 12 volts in and it does work. But, just out of curiosity, how much voltage is going into the bulb? All I now is that it's enough to make a purple "spark" up to 1/4" in length and it hurt alot before I knew it could do that.

arduinoe (author)livesteamfan2009-09-21

its around 2.5KV (2500) volts , some can be as many as 10 KV

bronz (author)2009-09-02

These Two white wires how much current be given to them.As I use a adopter with these wires, there is already a circuit in front of you. So explain the amount of current be supplied to these white wires. Thanks.

Orbitalgun (author)2009-01-17

Thanks for this great instructable but please put more emphasis on the current and voltage drop when you mention lamp cord as it is a little misleading.

mike_d214 (author)2008-12-03

So I have a lamp, but it has 4 wires going in. Any ideas how to figure hook up?

ccg3 (author)2008-06-25

Excellent Idea. I always wondered if this could be done. Cool! Great Job!

crestind (author)2008-06-03

How long has your lamp lasted? I would imagine that this would burn out kind of quickly because the lamp wasn't designed for continuous use.

jgeekw (author)2008-04-30

I did this project and fried the PC board on the scanner head. I either swapped polarity on the wire, or there was too much power going to the scanner head. Any suggestions if I dont have the AC to DC converter?

jpitz31 (author)jgeekw2008-04-30

Hello Most converters take around 12 - 15 volts DC to run. Depends on what you used to power the board? Is there an input voltage written on the board? If you fried the board hopefully you have another one? Try to find a part number and manufacture name. Then you can attempt to look up the specs on their web site or give them a call. Thanks Joe

mikedoth (author)2007-12-02

What can I do if I can't find the wall converter?

jpitz31 (author)mikedoth2007-12-02

Do you have the inverter to power the fluorescent light? If so see below post. If not then you are going to have to find an inverter for your fluorescent light. If you have the inverter then you have to find out what the voltage and amperage rating of the inverter are. Then you can locate a wall wart rated for the inverter. Should be a common rating. Thanks Joe PItz

mikedoth (author)jpitz312007-12-02

I have the inverter that is attached to the black box that holds the light, I don't have the plug that goes from the wall to the scanner.

Aar000n3y (author)2007-10-18

My scanner is a bit different, and I couldn't figure it out. There were many wires coming from the main board to the light holder. But I couldn't find where it split to the light and the light detection part (not sure what it's called). So I took out the light, but I have no idea how it was powered. It looks pretty much like the light in the pictures. Is there any way to still use this or will I not be able to get it to work anymore?

jpitz31 (author)Aar000n3y2007-10-18

Hello Aar000n3y Look on your board and see if there is any power markings i.e. voltage in or power indications. If not, put the light back in the circuit. You are looking for wires that will power the board with around 12V. Look for a empty connector, This could be your voltage source to the board. If there is no connector then you will have two choices: Try to find the manufacture of the board. It should be written on the board, along with a part number. Send them an email and ask for the specs on the board. If all else fails then you will have to guess: Warning, You may toast the board in doing the below steps: Take a 12V source and see if you can find a pair of wires that will cause the light to light up. Do not touch the board when you apply 12V to it. Do not touch any bare wire, if possible insulate yourself by using insulated alligator clips. Briefly touch a pair of wires to see if the light works. If not switch the polarity of the wires and try again with the same wires. Then try each pair until the light works or not. Use extreme care if you do this last step. Do not touch any part of the light or circuit, Use insulated tools or power off the circuit, attach the alligator clips and them power up the circuit using your power supply switch. Do not touch anything with your bare hands. Thanks Joe

AzurusNova (author)2007-09-25

I have two moduals from laptop screens that gave the cathod tubes along with them. Now knowing that they are used in screens for laptops, the issue of UV should not be a problem. The only thing Im trying to figure out is what sort of power source is needed to power them. Id like to use one to light the inside of my desktop case and mod the second one to use as a lamp. Any information would be awesome. Ill post any results or make my first instructable of it as well. Thanks though for the little tidbits here.

jpitz31 (author)AzurusNova2007-09-25

Hello, You need a dc inverter to drive the tube. You might have to do some digging on the web to find out the specs on the tubes and modules you have. I tore apart a bunch of scanners to dig up the inverters and tubes. Thanks Joe

AzurusNova (author)jpitz312007-10-18

True, its going to take some digging about. Well I think I might get lucky on powering my scanner lamp with the power out of an older style computer power system witht he extended power push switch. I havent learned what settings have to be on my voltimeter to see what the "ma" is on the 12v side, if you can direct me that way Im sure Id be right along with this build.

jpitz31 (author)AzurusNova2007-10-18

Hey AzurusNova, Bre put out a very cool Make podcast that explains basic voltage, ohm and amp measurement using a multimeter. Check out this link. Also do some searching on the web for using a multimeter You should be able to find some good diagrams of proper usage. When you are measuring the inverter, be careful in not touching any components when the power is on. These inverters can cause burns to your skin referred to a "electrocautery" Thanks Joe

AzurusNova (author)jpitz312007-10-18

Thank you much for the link. Once I get a chance after work to view over this video, I'm sure Ill know how to use it. Heh, Ill have an arm load of goodies coming home from work as well. Four older printers and 3 or more dvd players. All free because co workers have them laying about. I'm going to scrap parts out of the three printers and try to get one working. Not to mention its pay day and I'm finally getting my 19 inch lcd screen with built in speakers, DVI and VGA port.

lemonie (author)2007-02-11

These bulbs are not designed for room lighting, they may emit more UV than other desk lamps.

Steamdnt (author)lemonie2007-10-12

perfect for growing plants

jpitz31 (author)Steamdnt2007-10-12

I never gave it a thought, but yes that would be a cool indoor plant lamp. Thanks Joe

jpitz31 (author)lemonie2007-02-11

From the searching I have done on the web, scanner tubes give off low levels of UV radiation. This is a security prevention as many secure documents, money and checks have UV sensitive ink and a scanner will not pick up these UV sensitive markings. Though I cannot find any UV wavelength information by searching on the web to indicate what degree of UV the tubes do emit.

lemonie (author)jpitz312007-02-18

I saw a news article which reported a kid getting 'welder's eye' from a photocopier. Correct or otherwise, it gave me the thought. Thanks for the check & update. L

gfixler (author)lemonie2007-03-09

I'm sure it all depends on the bulb, and maybe even the kid, but being a weirdo artist/maker boy back in the 80s, with a stepdad who had an office scanner - a big old Xerox - I used to make photocopies of my face all the time. In art college, when bored working in the writing studio, I would make scans of my face, rolling with the scan to unwrap my face, or with it to compress it, or in spirals to create crazy warps. In almost all of my scans, I kept my eyes open, and looked past the bulb as it passed my face. Everyone always panicked, asking "You looked at the light!? You could go blind!" I always replied "Why do you say that? It's just a light bulb, and not all that bright, either." Then I'd always hear "Well, I just heard they're dangerous, like X-rays." "What? Where did hear that?" "I don't remember.' Literally, every conversation about my face scans went that way. No one could ever remember, or find again where they heard something that seemed benign to me was actually dangerous. Now at 30 years old, I'm the only one of my handful of friends from art school who still doesn't need glasses. In fact, I still have better than 20/20 vision, no color deficiencies, no near/far-sightedness, and I can control my eyes separately, which is very helpful with the kinds of stereographic imagery with which I like to code and play. I also spent the bulk of my childhood reading in very poor lighting, or in near darkness. We lived in the woods, away from the city, so it got pitch black when we turned all the lights off at night. I would often read for a while by the light of the green numbers on the VCR across the room from me - my only late-night light source. If I unplugged the VCR, it was absolute darkness. My eyes would never adjust. I kind of miss that, as my apartments since are impossible to get completely dark. However, my mother would yell "How can you see anything!? Turn on a light! You're going to hurt your eyes!" To that, I always responded with "How can darkness hurt my eyes? Light is radiation. You can be blinded, set on fire, or killed by radiation, but no one's ever been hurt by darkness itself." I guess I was kind of an pain, but from a very early age I had an incredible skepticism, and a tremendous thirst for the real reasons behind things. Of course, all that said, I don't think my shenanigans have had anything to do with my eyesight being as good as it is, and I'm quite thankful, and feel quite lucky that it is so, especially given that my parents have all sorts of eye issues, with both needing weird, strong prescriptions (mom's like 20/70 in one eye, 20/200 in the other), but a lifetime of warnings about what would hurt me, the great majority of which never panned out have made me only more cynical. I could've used a warning about NOT pulling wood through a table circular saw from that back side though. Thankfully that healed up nicely :)

davidlaska (author)gfixler2007-07-10

Normal or perfect vision is a recessive trait, far sightedness is a dominate trait similar to dark is dominate over lighter skin. No one gets out alive without suffering loss of vision and needing corrective lenses. If nothing else, the cornea (the lens that changes shape to focus, cameras change the distance) simply hardens over time. My favorite scanner light was from an early UMAX, they used regular size florescent lights. The ones that a are twice as long as the ones in the Colmen lanterns. This UMAX light was a very bright pleasant green light. I put this bulb in a regular florescent fixture that took the same size bulb (f-8)?. This green bulb is much brighter than the white bulb.

lemonie (author)gfixler2007-03-09

I don't wear glasses/contacts either. Opticians have an an interest in selling you these (esp. if they're offering 'free' eye-tests) Or am I just being syinical?

steven07 (author)2007-06-03

For the free lamp
now back to making the UV light box

zuixro (author)2007-03-03

I had one of these set up for my workbench for a while, unfortunately, I connected the power to the inverter backwards once, and it smoked it. I have another one, but the inverter has 4 wires going for it. If anyone has any tips for figuring out which is which, tell me please. Great instructable!

CameronSS (author)2007-02-09

Yay! I found this instructable two days after ripping apart my old HP scanner/printer/copier/refrigerator/TV.

benjamenjohnson (author)2007-01-30

How long will the scanner bulb last? I would think that since they only see intermittent duty in a scanner, they might not stand up to continuous duty for very long. I love the lamp. I have been wondering what to do with an old scanner I have. I think I'll make a lamp!

Actually, if you could watch under the scanner, the light is on most of the time. It usually shuts off only when the scanner goes into power saving mode.

The bulbs are just like LCD back lights :D Ironically, my girlfriend's back light inverter went out yesterday -- but the machine is about 3 years old. I've had my lamp in my car for a few months -- intermittent use, but it gets beaten by the road and such :P

About This Instructable




Bio: Software Developer, like to work with electronics, embedded systems, robots etc.
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