Very Efficient Very Cool Lighting With Recycled Cold Cathode.

Introduction: Very Efficient Very Cool Lighting With Recycled Cold Cathode.

Old computer scanners headed for the trash or more appropriate the ‘landfill.’ Have a second life. I recycle them. I am a computer tech and I like my desk to be flooded with light and no shadows. The solution is old scanners. Scanner bulbs (cold cathode bulbs) run on about 450vac but the inverter board requires only 12vdc. I strung 2 parallel copper wires 8” apart to support and power the lights. I used turn-buckles to tension the wires. I had to well insulate the ends. The positive and negative wires from the 12vdc power supply to each of the bare copper wires. Make sure not to short circuit anything. In the pictures you will see 4 Schottky  (power) diodes these are used simply as a bridge. The lights draw less then 50 watts. And produce a very nice light with no shadows. There are 7 bulbs lighting my desk.

Start by finding some old scanners. Missing power supplies, cracked glass, cracked plastic no problem. Even if the scanner wont power-up the bulbs and the inverter are most likely fine. The town I live in Telluride Co has a Spring and Fall Clean-Up-Day. Electronics, computers, stereos, paint, old tires you get the idea. I volunteer to help collect the e-waste. Lots of good reusable computer stuff. Including lots of old scanners. Computer LCD screens have the same bulbs but the inverter is much more difficult to wire and the bulbs are very fragile., Garage sales, local recycle center or a simple ad in your local news paper may get you a bunch of scanners.

Step 1: Remove the Scanner Buld

removing the bulb and inverter.
Scanner bulbs are very fragile. And when on are very high voltage. BE CAREFUL.

Philips head screwdriver
Solder Iron

the Inverter will be a circuit board attached to the lights by white wires. the inverter power input is 12v DC.

Step 2: Mounting the Bulbs.

I used 16 gauge unshielded copper wire. Setup 2 parallel wires 8" apart. The wires will be under hi-tension so they need to be mounted well. Connect each wire the a 12V DC power supply. (with a switch) I used power diodes bridging the wires for stability.

This set of light light up a 10x10 room. In three years not a bulb or inverter have burnt out. The set of lights above my desk contain 7 bulbs 2 are doubles.

Repair - Reuse - Recycle

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    8 years ago on Introduction

    Your instructable would be more attractive and interesting if you could provide more detailed steps about wiring, inverters etc..
    Like this you're only presenting your idea without much instructions.

    btw. this is great idea.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    This is such an energy friendly idea!! It seems so much safer than CFL bulbs. Thank you so much for posting. I sure hope this becomes "main stream" lighting solution for every day use. Just awesome!!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah! This is a nice re-use.

    I'm pretty sure there's mercury in those cold cathode tubes so this keeps heavy metals out of the environment that much longer. Also by saving electricity you're keeping other mercury out of the air from coal fired power plants.