Introduction to Making a SteamPunk Light Tube U.S.A. Version 2.0

About: I just like to make stuff.

Turn some old junk into something really neat and has many app's.
All parts for this build can be aquired  fairly easy, The hardest parts to find would be the lamp bases which are the gas valves from a propane gas grill, there are many types of valves. It is purely up to the artist on what style to use. This device will use a 3.7 volt Lithium ion cell phone battery for power. They really super power LED's without a resistor and LED's can run for days on a single charge depending how good the battery is you will use.

This can also be powered by USB or AAA ,AA,  C, and D batteries as well.
Using a USB will require the use of a resistor or the LED will burn out within a few sec's. 

A quick note:
The best way to recharge you're cell phone battery is by using the cell phone that the battery came from  to recharge it, This means I would suggest using an OLD phone and NOT you're current cell phone, Like me you will have to do a quick cell phone hack and solder a quick connect to said OLD phone.

Step 1: Parts:

As I said prior the parts are fairly easy to aquire and they are as follows.

2 Small brass gears.   (Scraped from old clocks washing or dryer machine timers)  Cost free

2 LED's color of you're choice.(Pulled from old VCR's Radio's)       Cost free
2 Stainless steel rods (taken from junk CD/DVD  players.)               Cost free

2 Brass gas valves from gas grill. (Scraped from junk grill)             Cost free

4 Dollar store Laser pointer's (Just the cap's are needed.)              Cost $4.00

2 1/2 to 3/8 copper pipe reducers (bought at any hardware store). Cost $2.00

2 Decorative  lamp Sleeve  (Hardware store.)                                      Cost $1.00

1 Hard clear plastic tube. (Dollar store cup with washable straw.)  Cost $1.00
1 Fire sleeve White.                                                                                   Cost free  (found at local wholesale electrical contractor
supplier, Or pulled from electrical appliances that use heat.)

1 Single pole toggle switch.      from Radio Shack                               Cost $3.19

2 lengths of thin insulated copper wire about 25 inch's                      Cost free   (USB cable stripped down to the 4 conductors work great)

Total cost for all parts you may have to buy will be about $12.00. I had all this on hand so cost was nil for me :)                                                                                                                     

Step 2: Tools:

Wire cutter's, Strippers.
Soldering iron, flux, solder.
Pipe cutter.
Utility knife.
Gorilla glue
Helping hands. (if you have them)
Hot glue gun.

Step 3: Assemble the Light Tube Part 1

First I placed the base and 1/2 to 3/8 pipe reducer in the vise and gently pressed it onto the base x2.

Next  is to size up the fire sleeve, marked with a fine point sharpie.

Using the pipe cutter very very gently score the plastic tube, If too much pressure is used it will crack and break, the best way to cut this i found is by scoring the tube then heat up the utility knife blade and cut it. Clean off any burs.

Now insert the fire sleeve into the tube mine was a real tight fit made it hard to get in all the way but i did it.

Now that the base and tube are ready we can move on to the stainless steel guide rods, these rods came out of burned up DVD and CD players the fit the holes in the base perfectly. Slide them in and gorilla glue them into place, then slide the other base on to support the guide rods until the one end has dried completely.

After drying is completed remove the unglued side of base. Screw on the decor lamp sleeve and laser pointer cap for the end cap x2.

Step 4: Wiring 101

First the wires need to be tinned, this makes it very easy to solder wire to LED's fast without burning up the LED from to much heat, So dip the wires in flux and give them a fast run threw some hot solder.

Okay time to solder the wire on the LED's, Make sure you have got the positive and negative correct on both LED's. If possible try to use Red and Black wires in case you have to rip into it again... Just makes it easier & faster if there is a repair to do or perhaps a refit.....

Now that the 2 LED's are wired it is time to run the wires threw the base, fairly simple.
First place one of the last 2 laser pointer caps on the wire so that it will look like a brass bowl inside the base, I used hot glue at this point to fasten the cap into the base, the glue dries faster then I could set in place so I used a small torch lighter to heat up the base and remelt the glue without damaging the LED's and reseat the cap.

Wiring the switch will be the last step of this instructable.

Step 5: Assemble the Light Tube Part 2

Place the small brass gear in the vise and make it very snug( Don't crush or mar) Carefully drill the center of the gear out. The tube I used was just under 11/32  So that's the drill i used perfect fit, The gear should be able to move freely on the tube until glued into place.  

You may have to use the Dremel to grind down a few teeth on the gear so that it will not bind on the guide rods. Insert the tube onto the LED run a thin ring of hot glue on the base, Remember it dries real fast on brass so you will have to remelt by heating the base up then press gear down hold hard for good 10 to 15 secs and it shall be solid.

Now repeat for the other end of the lamp and it is complete all but wiring the switch & power source.

Step 6: Wiring the Switch and Power Source.

For now I am just wiring a momentary switch to this light 

Again a 3.7 volt lithium ion cell phone battery Identify positive  and negative a little bit of flux and solder them to the battery RED + BLACK -

Wire the positive from battery to one side of the switch.
Wire the other positive wire to the two RED wires from the LED's
Wire the ground wires from the LED's directly to the negative on the battery, completing the circuit and this Instructable.

If you have made it this far then think about this, Firesleeve comes in different sizes imagine using 1 watt LED's! SteamPunk light tubes that are 2 or 3 feet long. Just saying...

This lamp has many apps and can be added to many SteamPunkers wish list enjoy.
I hope you enjoy this build as much as I did making it!

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    18 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Hello Grasshoper

    Very well done, nothing to say about it. I was just wondering, how is it that you can use the Li-battery without adding any resistor to protect the LED?

    1 reply

    The batteries I use are Cell Phone batteries Hench 3.7 volts D/C, LED's can use up to 5 volts D/C. However it is recommended to use a resistor if using 5 volts or more.

    Thanks for looking :D Best of luck on all your projects. :)


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Hey Grasshopper1221

    I like the way you created your lighttube especially the idea to use this flexible mesh tube. I will try the same at the next generation of my Steampunked-Light-Tube

    Greetings yours 

    Aeon Junophor

    1 reply

    Thank you. Junophor I was inspired by you're
    I find using this mess ( I wish I knew what it was called and where to buy a roll of it) has an very excellent light dispersion effect. I am Looking forward to seeing what you come up with you are an awesome artist.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Hey Grasshopper

    can you at least say what kind of grill you got those 90 degree valves off of? I havnt seen one yet tht looks like those and its a pretty crucial part of the this project. seems like every one I find is diferent than what you show. If we could know the grill it came off it would make fining it alot easier. Most look nothing like the ones you show. you obviously have made this before. what grille are you pulling them off of? and also this fire sleeve material. exactly what is it plastic? another integral piece that is impssible to figure. I dont mind hunting the stuff down but ya gotta give us more detail for kripes sake. every one of these instructables is vague and frustrating. Dont need to see a pic of your vice and wire cutters and other assorted tools. how about detailed info instead.
    Thanx for your help and for a great possible project

    1 reply

    Warmtint: Everything I use is found in the trash, I did not buy 300.00 grill to remove its parts to make a 5.00 light, I am sorry I have no idea what kind of grill they are off. As they are many styles of gas valves be creative It don't have to be an exact match to what I have posted.
    Firesleeve is am guessing is.... Some kind of fiberglass maybe without the glass... I don't know again pillaged from stuff I find in the trash older microwaves ovens toaster ovens, toasters ect... As I have tried to find this stuff on a roll with no luck, It is not plastic it is flexaible mesh tube.

    And I do have to post pics of my tools, I try to explain it as best I can for all to see, If you are having a hard time understanding what I have posted I suggest taking your time an read it a few times, I thought I was pretty on topic when I said where to find the parts. I will in the future try harder to make it easier to understand.
    Thanks for looking and best of luck with all your projects Cheers!

    Winged Fist

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Grasshopper - Great looking light tube. I can see this working nicely with a wide variety of steampunk projects. (Would look great on the right steampunk keyboard;-) You got my 5 stars and vote for the Green Tech contest!

    1 reply

    Thanks Winged fist.
    However I think this will be my last step by step project, unless there's a cool contest..... It just take to much time to make the step by step and get very little exposure.
    So I think I will just post finished projects.
    Glad you like it!! Now go make a few and hook it up! Try using 1 watt LED's >:)

    Nicely done Grasshopper!
    Similar project to Junophor's though yours looks like it has better light dispersion.
    I also love the hardware you used to make the tube itself.
    Those gas valves are nice, wish I could find some.

    2 replies

    You are correct sir I must give Credit where it is due I did after seeing his light tube if you notice it is the same light I used on the steamPunk wall light, But I never did an instructable on how I built it.

    With some extra cool parts I found I was able to make this again.

    Also I think the light dispersion looks so well because I am using Super Bright white LED's. I tried green and red and found that the dispersion was allot less then the white LED's. Then again they were not super bright green's or red's so that could be a factor.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This is beautiful. I think I'm going to make a few and put them around the house. Just got to find a few trashed grills. ha ha

    2 replies

    Thank you Begradoo! I am pleased that you like it. It is a fairly easy build, you can try to see if any local scrap dealers will sell you parts off there huge pile of gas grills.!?