Recycled Illuminator




I have salvaged old glass-insulator plate chains from high voltage power lines. These power lines were renovated to have higher capacity and voltage, so the supporting poles and insulator plates were dismantled and thrown to the ground. The plates do normally form a chain of insulator plates, so the required distance between pole and power line can be achieved. Normally approximately 6 plates are used on 50-100kV lines.

The illuminator is built with 12VDC LED strips that DO NOT HAVE silicone.

The reason for this is that the white light from the LEDs emit light and heat which "browns out" the silicone from the LED strip within 5 months.

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Step 1: Cut the T-stud

Use your metal jacksaw and cut the T-shaped end of the metal bolt. This T-bolt is normally used for chaining the plates together. The cut-out stud will be used in the mounting step.

Step 2: Make a LED-strip Mounting Ring

Place the glass plate on your workbench over a short plastic 100 mm tube, this way you can have a good support and the plate does not rotate.

Cut a 10 mm wide ring from the same 100 mm plastic tube. The LED-strip will be mounted to this ring.

Step 3: Prepare the LED-strip Mounter

Solder 2 multi strand cables to the LED-strip and drill a 4 mm hole to the plastic ring. Guide the cables trough the plastic ring hole so that you can attach the LED-strip outside the ring as seen in the photos.

Place the ring with LED-strips to the center of the plate and guide the cables against the middle stud, mounting the cable with a plastic cable-tie.

Step 4: Test the Soldering and Connections

Test the LED-strip functionality with a 12 VDC power supply or a battery. Do not proceed before all LEDs glow brightly trough the glass plate.

Step 5: Prepare for the Epoxy Fill

Make a support plate which is holding the plates above the floor level, letting the big metal part go trough a large round hole you drill or saw.

Step 6: Epoxy Resin Insulation Pour and Final Steps

Mix epoxy resin (2 cups of plastic and 1 cup hardener) together and stir approximately 3 minutes.

Pour epoxy to the illuminator and let it be hardened. Depending of temperature and amount of hardener the epoxy will hard out within next day.

Take the metal stud which you saw away in the beginning, drill a 4mm hole into it and attach a chain to the hole.

Hang the plate from the chain and connect the wires to an old PC power supply 12VDC lines.

Activate the ATX supply with a jumper, so you get power up.

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    9 Discussions


    3 years ago

    This is awesome! You should definitely enter it into the make it glow contest!

    2 replies
    Timo RepoTimo Repo

    Reply 3 years ago

    These insulator chains were hung approximately 15 meters high and the demolishing guys dropped them down to ground. Not even one had broken during fallout. But guys, yes... it just needed a hammer to explode...

    Chipper Bert

    3 years ago

    Hi. I love the idea. I worked for a municipality which had mountains of these insulators going to landfill because no one had figured out a re - use. I scrounged a few and hung them out as bird feeders. Problem was they didn't drain so hanging them where rain got to them ended with fermented birdseed and some hung over sparrows. Here's where I inject a word of extreme warning. These things are made of highly heat stressed glass. Drop one on a concrete floor and it could explode! VIOLENTLY! Thousands of glass shards flying in all directions.

    Truly! It happened to me.

    By God's grace I was wearing my glasses so my eyes were spared but my face and exposed skin looked like I'd been through a cheese grater. Blood all over and getting the shards out of the cuts took my wife about 3 hours.

    I don't want to be a wet blanket but if you are going to try this instructable (and I'm going to - I still have some insulators left) please wear a full face mask, thick full cover clothing and forget sandals on the feet.

    Oh yes it took a day of vacuuming to clear the garage of glass. 15 years later and I still come across bits in odd corners

    3 replies
    Chipper BertChipper Bert

    Reply 3 years ago

    If anyone thinks I'm kidding about the explosive power, take a look at the instructable "Make Prince Rupert's drops...."

    Victor805Chipper Bert

    Reply 3 years ago

    I totally believe you, I have some old drinking glasses which seem to be poorly made, holding a high stress inside of them, if I drop one of them it will explode violently filling the room with tiny glass shards, even after picking them up I can still hear them cracking for several minutes. I don't want to imagine what one of those things will do to you if you're unprotected...

    Chipper BertVictor805

    Reply 3 years ago

    That takes me back 45 years to when I was in the navy. We were issued with cups and saucers made of the same toughened glass. So robust were they that we played hockey with the cups as the ball. Up and down the concrete floored corridors of the shore barracks. They would survive for weeks and then suddenly, POW!

    Come to think of it, car windows used to be made the same way. Maybe some still are? The idea being that in a smash, a million small scratches were preferable to one large slice through an artery. Gruesome!

    As kids we would eagerly seek out accident sites and collect the shards, pretending we were diamond traders or some such...


    3 years ago

    Beautiful !

    Led ribbons are more and
    more in 24V and their quality has really improved. You can find Nichia
    or Samsung white LEDs with a CRI higher than 95, which means the colour
    rendering is very close to the sun light.


    3 years ago

    Muy interesante... que viva el reciclaje, abajo el consumismo!