Funky Lamp From an Old Instamatic!



Introduction: Funky Lamp From an Old Instamatic!

About: I'm a 29 year old guy who's passionate about building and fixing things, sometimes if they aren't even broken. I get a great sense of enjoyment out of creating, designing and building new things. I also love t…

Hey everyone,

So I just joined Instructables a little over a month ago and now I'm addicted to creating and building!

Ok, so before I get into this one, I need to caution any potential builders: Although this lamp is pretty nifty, as far as electronics go, it's about as unsafe as you can get. using an uninsulated copper coat hanger as a conductor works just fine, but NEVER touch it when there is power to the lamp or you'll get a powerful shock. Please be careful.

Alright, now down to business. So I was strolling through my local thrift store and came upon this old Kodak Instamatic camera. For $3, I knew this was destined to become an Instructable of some sort!


- Old camera or some sort
- A metal coat hanger that you won't miss
- A couple of 12V automotive light bulbs (See pics for type I used)
- A couple of battery terminal springs (got mine from an old solar light)
- A switch
- A 12V AC adapter (the higher the amperage output of the adapter, the brighter your lights will be. I used a 500mA)
- Terminal for your adapter to plug into
- Some wire, solder and heat shrink


- Soldering iron
- Needle nose pliers
- Screwdriver to disassemble your camera (mine needed a #0 Phillips)
- Wire cutters and strippers
- Hot glue gun
- Epoxy glue

Step 1: Take Apart Your Camera and Remove Unnecessary Parts

Usually in these old cameras the screws are inside when you open the back up (where you would load the film). So go ahead and open it up. I removed as much of the guts of the camera as I could, just leaving the parts that are externally visible (the wind lever and gear and snap button, etc.). You can see the screws on the left and right side of the film chamber in the second photo. On my camera, after you remove the screws, you have to gently pry the front off with a blade or small flathead screwdriver.

Step 2: Cut Your Coat Hanger Down to Size and Mount It.

Now you need to use some tin snips or some sort of strong cutters to cut two pieces of your coat hanger out that will serve as the positive and negative posts for the upper bulb. You can cut them to whatever length suits your project. Then cut two lengths of wire and solder them to the bottom ends of the hanger pieces. You could put heat shrink tubing over the coat hanger after it's wired if you like, which would be safer, but I just like the look of bare copper. I did heat shrink the bottom of the hanger pieces where I soldered the wires on. Then solder your springs on the other ends of the hangers that will serve as the terminals for your bulb. I mounted the hanger pieces in the hole where you would normally install your flash cube, then sealed it up with some epoxy glue. at this point it's a good idea to test your bulb to make sure all of your connections are good and so forth.

Step 3: Start Working on Your Second Bulb

Now you want to get your second bulb in place. I drilled out the internal shutter hole a bit bigger to accomodate my bulb, but you could use an LED just as easily. Just remember if you decide to use an LED to put a resistor in line with it. I didn't have a base for my bulb, so I just soldered wires directly to it and then used my trusty glue gun to fix it in place. I had to drill a hole through the film chamber to feed the wires from my coat hanger bulb through from the front to the back (see second photo), but you may not have to depending on what camera you use. 

Once all of your bulbs have wires, solder the positive terminals together and the negative terminals together in parallel, but don't heat shrink them yet (see third photo).

Step 4: Prepare the Back of the Case

I chose to mount my switch and connector for my AC adapter on the back of the camera, just because there is a lot of space inside the film chamber for all of the wiring and also it will accomodate the depth of the backside or your switch. Drill a hole for your switch and one for your connector in the back and attach both. Then solder the positive side of your bulbs to the positive post of the AC adapter connector. Solder the negative side of your bulbs to the switch and then solder another wire from the switch to the negative post of your AC adapter connector.

Step 5: Close It Up and Light It Up!

If all went well, the back of the film chamber should close without any issues. After that, all you have to do is plug it in and flip the switch! Again, be careful not to touch the coat hanger while the lamp is turned on.

Hopefully you enjoyed making this as much as I did!

Any comments would be greatly appreciated and questions are welcome!

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