The 300 Volt Steampunk Plasma Lantern




About: Dan Aetherman, Steampunker, Inventor and Adventurer - Creator of fantastic victorian machines, gadgets and movieprops - Visit me on and on Facebook:

Dear Steampunkers, dear friends and followers

As you may know I like it to play with high voltages and with Plasma devices... it's "Science & Adventure"!

With this Instructable I show you how to make your own Steampunk Plasma Lantern, running with 300 Volts! For the power I use a flash unit from a disposal camera from KODAK. This small units are running with only one small battery (1.5V) and are easely to convert.

So, if you are interested, keep reading. We will start with an overview about the stuff you need for your project.

But please only open the case of a disposal camera when you know what you are doing. The capacitor could still have a lot of power in and there is the possibility of an electric shock if you touch the wrong parts!!! If you are not sure how to use the flash unit of a disposal camera please read some tutorials first - and always be careful!!!

Step 1: The Material for Your Steampunk Lantern

First of all you will need an old lantern or something similar. I found one under the snow in our garden.
Further I used the following stuff:
  • a neon filled bulb, called flickering bulb
  • a few brass rings and brass parts for decoration
  • the flash unit from a disposal camera from KODAK
  • a battery clip for a single battery
  • cables, a switch
  • a heavy brass ring for the bottom, some wood and screws

Step 2: Preparing the Flickering Bulb

First of all I prepared the flickering bulb and the high voltage unit, to be sure that it works. I soldered two cables to the bulb, one to the top of the socket and the other one to the bottom. Then I wrapped the socket with tape. You have to do that very good, becaue you don't want to have 300Volts at the metal body of your lantern - that could hurt!!!

Step 3: The High Voltage Unit of a Disposal KODAK Camera

I don't write too much about this step, because if you are able to handle such a unit you will now what you have to do. If not, please read and study first some tutorials about the use of this units from disposal cameras.

As you can see on the picture its very easy to convert such a unit. Take carefully off the capacitor, after you unloaded it. Then solder the cables for the bulb to this two connections, where before the capacitor was on.

Then use a drop of tin-solder to connect the two pins from the switch (see picture).

To finish connect the cables for the battery. Please check the polarity.

That's it. After you connect the battery, the flickering bulb should run...

Step 4: Prepare the Lantern

To place the electronic and the Battery into the lantern i had to cut out the bottom. Be brutal, then it will work!!!

Then I painted the lantern black, because I like this look together with brass.

Step 5: Putting Together All the Parts

First a mounted the bulb with hot glue to the body of the lantern. The bulb fitted exactly into the hole.
The I drilled a small hole for the switch on the side. After that I connected the electronic to the bulb and to the switch.
To close the lamp at the bottom I found a heavy brass ring. This ring is screwed to a wooden stringer (see picture).

Step 6: The Finish

To keep the glass of the lantern at the right place I used two brass rings, which fitted by chance perfectly to the lantern...

As a decoration I placed two nice brass parts to the top of the lantern (see pictures).

That's it. I hope I could give you an inspiration to make your own thing!

Your Chocolatist

Step 7: Some More Pictures...

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    16 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I have such respect and envy for you ALL, that are doing these projects. I'm happy you stress safety, as there is little opportunity for people to learn to innovate unless they have natural ability (and interest) or a mentor who takes the time. Schools and other entities are resistant to allow experiments because of liability, poor control of students, and little support from administration. I wish more 'makerspaces', and other co-ops would do things like this.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks for your message! I'm dreaming about to open a small Steampunk Maker Space here in my hometown - but it's difficult, because there is no interest from the town administration and completely no support in any way.... but I keep going...

    Dr The BoB

    3 years ago on Introduction

    That's Brilliant Mate!
    When I (eventually, LOL) get around to making one of these I'm going to try incorporating a couple of home-made rechargable power cells to add to the madness of the build.
    Thanks for the inspiration! :)



    3 years ago on Step 7

    You tease with the old vacuum tubes ? I wonder if there are any tubes filled with gas which would fluorescence vs. vacuum? I'm off in search ...

    3 replies

    Reply 3 years ago on Step 7

    Hi. All my artwork is a mixture between functional and non functional elements :-) There are old vacuum tubes filled with Krypton or something similar and they will light up with the same high voltage device which I used for this Neon filled bulb... I'm searching too...


    Reply 3 years ago on Step 7

    It's typically argon and as a class known as "cold cathode" i.e. no heater, and common example would be "Voltage regulator tube". And that's about as far as I got on Wikipedia ;-) Let me know if you come across something that looks like it would be a good candidate! - And not expensive due to collectability :-(


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I am so very impressed with the style and finish you have achieved with such simple componentry.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Dear Sir

    Well done!!!
    I like this combining brass parts and the black couloured other parts

    Yours Aeon Junophor

    Thanks for your comment. I will use it in my VW Splitwindow camper. The flickering light is very romantic to drink a glas of wine...