This stunning glow lamp is sure to make a great gift....
You choose what you would like to say and I show you how to make the lamp.
Step 1: Where to Begin...
Please read my other glow lamp Instructable for some alternate information and configurations.
Safety note: you will be working with compressed gas, deep vacuum and high frequency electrical power. Please observe caution... When completed the finished project can be treated like any other lamp in your house.
Materials will be presented as used in write up...
You will need a clean bottle. The bottle that you choose will dictate how the base should look.
I used an empty cooking oil glass bottle that is roughly rectangular in shape with a large flat "window" area...
The base was made as show to hide the electrical connections and filling line.
All measurement were "eyeballed' using the bottle for reference.
The base is constructed from hobby wood and hot glue.
Step 2: What Would You Like to Say?
Using the bottle are a reference guide, trace the outer perimeter on a piece of paper.
Measure the opening of the bottle and make 2 parallel lines that extend from the neck to the base.
Mark the bottle contours if any on the paper.
This will give you a text box that is in the optimal location for your message.
Using cursive type lettering, write your message in the text box and extend the last letter all the way out of the neck of the bottle trace.
Alternately you may place a loop around the message to create a balloon like a comic book. I chose to make an underline in my final bottle.
I use Ni-chrome type wire for the message. This is readily available from any appliance parts supplier, Just ask for a dryer element for a Frigidaire or whirlpool dryer. It will be tightly coiled and you will have to straighten it befor you form it into your message.
You need 2 separate wire elements to make a glow light work. I chose to make a narrow loop that is the same size as the message but just wide enough to fit into the bottle opening.
Step 3: Make a Stopper
For the lamp to work you need to first evacuate all of the air from the bottle and replace it will a little bit of an inert gas. I used Argon. This creates a rich violet color. Neon would create a fire red...
In order to maintain the vacuum you will have to create a stopper.
This was done using 2 different size hole saws on a piece of 1/2 inch thick ABS plastic.
My bottle had in inner diameter at the neck of 1 inch. My 1 1/8 inch hole saw cut a plug that fit perfectly. I also cut another plug using an 1 1/4 inch hole saw.
The pilot bit made a hole in the exact center of the plugs that was 1/4 inch in diameter.
Using a 1/4 inch copper tubing, glue the plugs together using a heavy duty 2 part epoxy. I initially was using a quick set type but had to switch to a 2-ton rated type from Devcon.
Once the 2 plugs are securely fastened together, drill 2 1/6 inch holes for the wires electrodes that you made in the previous step.
Carefully align the wires inside of the bottle for maximum viewability. Using the 2 part epoxy, glue the electrodes and copper tube in place but do not glue the stopper in place. Allow the assembly to cure.
The electrode wires must not touch each other.
Step 4: Align the Electrodes
Fit the stopper assembly into the bottle to verify electrode alignment.
Remove the stopper and adjust the wires until they are positioned as desired.
Cover the stopper to glass mating surfaces with the 2 part epoxy and fit the stopper assembly into place.
Cover the exposed parts of the stopper assembly with the epoxy and hang the bottle upside down to cure so that the epoxy does not drip into the bottle. Be sure to support the stopper so that it does not fall out.
The epoxy when cured creates a vacuum seal.
Step 5: Prepare the Lamp
You will need a vacuum pump that is capable or drawing a deep vacuum. A refrigeration service pump will work for this. You will also need a refrigeration gauge set and some compressed argon gas.
When the epoxy has fully cured you can attach the copper tube to a vacuum pump and completely evacuate all of the air. It is critical to remove the air since the lamp will not work with any in the bottle.
You may have to run the vacuum pump for a long time. I ran mine for about a 1/2 hour then let it sit in vacuum ovenight then re-evacuated the bottle.
At this point I added some argon gas to bring the pressure up to just below 0 inches of mercury. You do not want to add positive pressure to your bottle for safety.
Re vacuum the bottle to just below 26 inches of mercury.
Step 6: The Electrics
To power the lamp I use an inverter from an old LCD. The one that I used takes a 5V input and outputs 800V at 15KHz. I have tried to use a CCFL driver circuit with no success for powering these lamps.
The output of your inverter circuit should have the (-) lead to the loop and the (+) lead to the lettering.
I just powered the circuit with a standard 5V black Wall Wart.
Step 7: Assemble and Test.
The proper vacuum/ gas ration will be st by plugging the inverter to power and starting the vacuum pump. From a pure Argo gas inside the bulb, vacuum the bottle down to around 25 inches of mercury.
At this point you should see an arc between the electrodes. Continue the vacuum and you will see the arc begin to spread to consume all of the letters.
Shut the vacuum off, if the letter glow begins to fad then there is a vacuum leak which will need to be isolated and sealed.
When you are satisfied that there is no leaks then the copper tube can be sealed and the vacuum pump removed.
Assemble the bottle to the lamp base and attach all of the electrics.