8mm Home Movie Projector Lamp




Introduction: 8mm Home Movie Projector Lamp

About: Mechanical engineer I work in 3d mechanical design, but have a long running automotive hobby. I dabble in electronics to keep things interesting.

This is the culmination of an idea I had to turn an ornate, vintage 8mm home movie projector into an accent light. This instructable is about as simple as it gets and only requires 3 parts and some very basic tools. However, some VERY basic soldering is recommended. In the end this project cost me under 30 bucks. This project creates a nice artistic little lamp which is a low wattage mood light or nightlight that can be left on or with a timer.

I have always loved the art deco design of everyday items from Post War America. I find that often these items still work and just need a little maintenance or adjustment that consumers today do not realize they can do. Every once in a while I find a great looking machine that isn't worth saving and that gives me to opportunity to make an art piece.

NOTE: I realize that the likelihood of finding a machine the exact make and model of mine is low, however some looks at other projectors of similar era shows that they are all similar in design and likely similar internally. This instructable serves better as inspiration/guidelines for others creative projects, if you are do make something similar i want to see it please post it or link it in the comments... I want to see it.

WARNING: Please don't do anything with the wiring when while plugged in, electricity is no joke.

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Step 1: Gathering Tools and Supplies


1950's-era 8mm Home Movie Projector: Although this is the only hard piece of this project to acquire, I actually found two matching models at two different estate sales for around $15 each. The projector used in this project was originally bought for parts and has a broken gear drive. Trying to acquire these online i found that they are averaging on Craigslist or Ebay for around $60-$70. The best bet for finding one cheap is rummaging around in grandma's attic or the Craigslist estate sale listings.

Ceramic Light Bulb Socket: The key is finding one that is approximately the same thickness as the original projector socket (The one on our projector measured about 1 3/4 inches.) The one pictured should be easy to get from most hardware stores for $3-4.

Light Bulb: I used a TCP dimmable led 7 watt bulb. This project doesn't involve a dimmer so you could save a few bucks using whatever A19 base bulb that suits your fancy. These projectors got quite hot normally, so I wouldn't be too worried about any A19 overheating the base. However, keep in mind we won't be running the cooling fan, so you may smell some dust burning.


Medium to small philips head screwdriver

Medium to small flat head screwdriver

3/8 wrench, (you could probably get away with a pair of pliers or a small crescent wrench)

Small hex key set

Soldering iron and accessories (optional)

Step 2: Removing Original Socket

The original bulb used in this projector was an extremely bright and expensive 750 watt click-in style bulb. It produced enough heat that it needed a continuous cooling fan to prevent premature failure. For obvious reasons we will be converting to a conventional socket to use any conventional light bulb.

One of the BEST PARTS of dismantling one of these machines is the fact that it was manufactured so that the owner could get in and fix it if something broke. It comes apart and goes back together very simply.

I started by taking off the tool-less removable coverings and bulb from the projector. The rest of the cover was held on with several philips screws on the front and back of the cover. This revealed the hold-down strap for the light socket.

The strap on this socket was easily removed with a 3/8 wrench and revealed that the connections were soldered on. At this point (as much as I hated to) I cut the wires holding the socket. Melting the solder to reach the screws on the bottom was not worth it. (I did, however, leave enough of a wire tag on the socket to use on a future project.)

Step 3: Converting to Conventional Socket

At this point it is a matter of attaching the two leads from your new light socket to the two leads that were cut from the old socket. You COULD twist the wires together and wrap electrical tape, or use twist-on wire caps, or use crimp connectors... But I am just going to leave this basic soldering tutorial here. (Notice i ran out of shrink tube today to protect my solder joints... don't be like me.)

Once the wires are connected, it is just a matter of strapping the new socket down in place of the old one. The socket i picked was a tad thinner than the original socket and needed a little cushion around the clamp to ensure that it held securely.

A typical shaped A19 bulb is wider than a projector bulb, so to both heat sinks had to be removed from the side coverings. These were held on with two flat head screws each.

Step 4: The Wiring

In order to keep things simple I reused all the old wiring and the lovely American made switches on the base of the projector. Connecting to the switch was extremely simple. Remove the thumb screws off Start and Lamp switches because the are connected with a jumper inside. Once the switches are loose, the projector can be flipped over and the 4 flat head screws removed to reveal the wiring for the switches. The goal here is to unscrew the wires from the Stop/Start switch and only route power to the lamp and lamp switch. This will allow the Lamp switch on the outside to operate the light socket and disconnect the motor. I have include before and after photos of the wiring, the annotated is the finished photo. Once the wiring has been finished make sure that the tilt mechanism clears everything (Notice in my photo one of the wires is touching the threaded rod... This is a no-no and was fixed after the photo.) Now button the bottom plate and the switches back on as they were.

Step 5: Clearing the Light Outlet

At this point we have a lamp inside the projector that is activated from the "Lamp" switch, However our 7 watt bulb will not be able to shine very well through the 8mm hole. In order to cure this I had to remove most of the lens materials from the front of the projector as well as brace the shutter out of the way. The lens materials were all held on with small flathead screws and came apart quickly and easily. I took pictures of every step of what i had to remove. The only part that couldn't be pulled with the flathead the fan which had a grub screw that took a vey small hex key.

Step 6: Options

At this point you are have the same "finished" product that I have, I found that I like the V shape of the spread of light that is emitted from the holes where the lens was mounted. It seemed more "projectorly" than having the lens still attached. It was my initial plan to use this lamp more like a spot light to highlight an object the room, but I decided that for the purpose of this Instructable things could be kept simple.

Another option to have the projector lamp emit more light would be to put the top of the lamp cover on standoffs. This would allow more of the light out (about double) and light a room better but it alters the character of the art piece somewhat.

The last option is to leave the lens material on and have a cool edison style bulb that is exposed by removing one of the side covers. This make a more steampunk or dieselpunk effect as you are showing off the inner workings of the projector. This option produced all most no light for the room and the bulbs are woefully inefficient... but they just look so good.

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