Mysterious Lightbulb Prank




About: Tinkerer, hackster and prankster. Hit me up on Facebook: Thanks for checking out my Instructables!
Have you ever seen the Magic Lightbulbs magicians use? Here's how to make one that will drive people crazy! Thanks to Brad Graham for the fun idea! Watch the video and then follow along with the Instructable. Hope you enjoy it!

Step 1: What You Need...

1. (2) ordinary lightbulbs - the older the better.
2. (2) CR2032 Button Cell Batteres
3. 1 High Intensity White LED

Step 2: Tools Needed...

1. Soldering iron/station
2. Solder
3. Knife or X-Acto
4. Work gloves
5. Needle nose pliers
6. Hot Glue gun

Step 3: Step 1

Put on your work gloves and start to gently work the lightbulb base back and forth. After some patience the base should come loose from the bulb. If you are lucky, the bulb will come loose cleanly. In my case it didn't so I salvaged the base and removed the excess old glue.

Step 4: Step 2

On the second bulb, I cut away a small edge of the base. Just enough to grab it with needle nose pliers and start 'unwrapping' the base from the bulb. Shen I was done I ended up with a clean glass bulb.

Step 5: Wire It Up...

After zip tying both batteries together, solder one wire to the lightbulb base in the center. Solder one wire to the edge of the base. There should be two nice globs of solder already there that you can use. Then solder one wire to each of the LED leads. Take note as to which one is positive (the longer lead). Then attach the positive wire to the + side of the battery pack by slipping it under the zip tie. Do the same for the negative wire.

Step 6: Put It Back Together...

Now drop the battery pack inside the base of the lightbulb and insert the LED into the empty part of the lightbulb. I had to break away the smaller glass shaft that runs inside the bulb to make room for the LED. Make it nice and snug and then I used some hot glue to seal the base to the bulb.

Step 7: Try It Out!

You can use a small piece of wire concealed in your hand to make contact between the base bottom and the side to activate the LED. I made it work by using my ring. When you hand it to someone it goes out! You can also ask someone to pick it up and hand it to you and then when you grab it, light it up! They'll never figure it out! NOTE: Be sure to not mix up this modified lightbulb with a real because plugging it in to 120 volts will cause some serious smoke and other potential hazards. Have fun, be safe!



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    130 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I did something similar to this over 40 years ago using a penlight bulb and a AAA cell. The light was weak, but the effect was good enough to fool a few persons.


    3 years ago

    great great great project!! thanks 4 sharing


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    most solder is made of lead... I wouldnt put that in my mouth...
    Now lead-free solder- THAT is slightly better


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I love this idea. I did a similar thing a few years ago for a halloween costume (I went as a bright idea)


    6 years ago on Introduction

    great idea! Next time a lightbulb breaks- I know what I will do

    That is awesome! You have a great idea by placing small lithium batteries in the lightbulb :) I posted a similar idea using a solar yard light, cost about $1.50-$2.40 and batteries ARE included! Check it out at


    7 years ago on Step 4

    Please tell me how you remove the base without breaking the glass bulb. I have tried this several times and because the bulb is a under a Vacuum Pressure it breakes and I have never seen one come apart at the base as clean as yours. I would love to know which brand you are using so I could make one Thanks Tom

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 4

    I have bought cheap brandless bulbs and removed the foot as well (it was for another project).
    Just hacksaw through the lower end of the metal base and then just peel off the rest of the metal with pliers.

    This leaves you with a closed glass bulb haveing a glass rod stick out at the bottom.

    Break off that rod.
    Then immobilize a belt sander somewhere or ask someone to hold it for you and gently but firmly press the base of the lamp against the turning sandbelt,

    Turn the lamp a few times as you probably will not push it sgainst the belt completely straight.

    Very soon you will have gone through the base and the inner glass off the lamp will be loose and yr bulb will be open


    9 years ago on Step 5

    there isn't much solder on my base and i can't get more to stick. help please?

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 5

    This will be way too late, but the flux paste used for plumbing will nearly always allow your solder to stick to metal that doesn't want to take it. Cleaning the metal with some abrasive paper or wire wool also helps.


    Reply 7 years ago on Step 5

    it's never too late to build random stuff! I'll try this out, but even if it doesn't work, thanks anyway!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    i used this prank at a friends party and scared the crap out of everyone lol


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I'm having trouble cleaning out the base... How did you do it? And when it is cleaned how would i get the wire through the glue at the bottom to the solder on the bottom?


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Probably not as much as others are expecting. The LED will blow almost instantly, and that would break the circuit. Connecting the battery to AC could make it blow or cause a fire, but the LED would act as a circuit breaker in this case.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    You get a little fire, a lot of nasty smoke and the bulb will probably explode (ok, the last one might not happen!!!)... :P Here in the UK we have a different type of bulb base, a Bayonet fitting, with the two contacts on the base, rather than a single one and the cap being the other, which I think would make this trick easier in my opinion... :)