The Sol Rod (A Torch for the Modern Steampunk)




Introduction: The Sol Rod (A Torch for the Modern Steampunk)

So I was taking the three hour drive back from my girlfriend's house when I got the idea for the Sol Rod. I had this little green glass bottle in the car that I didn't know what to do with, and it seemed too nice and shiny to just throw it away. So after mulling it over on the road, an old leftover idea I've had an idea in my head collided into my current thoughts- and I sped home to start up the new project.

After giving up on the original green bottle, learning how to solder, and finishing two prototypes- I present to you, the Sol Rod.

P.S- This is my first instructable, if anything's confusing or whatnot, comment on it! I could use some pointers.

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Step 1: What You're Gonna Need...

The body-

- A 3/4th diameter copper pipe (The length is of personal preference- I just used what was on hand)
- A 3/4th Female adapter
- A 3/4th Copper cap

The electrics-

- A Ultraviolet LED
- A 470ohm resistor
- A A23 Battery (They're usually used in cameras and garage remotes- if you can't find any in the battery section of your Target/CVS/Whatever, look in the photo section.)
- Spools of electrical wire (Red and Black are helpful)
- A switch (Radioshack calls it a SPST Mini Toggle)
- Electrical tape
- A dollar store door alarm (To be torn apart for parts)

The lightbulb-

- A small glass bottle
- A bottle of Tonic Water


- A hot glue gun
- Power drill (I don't know what kind of drill bit I used- the wording is etched out :()
- A Soldering Iron
- Solder
- Wire cutters
- Wire strippers
- A Propane tank (With a torch attachment)
- Plumber's solder
- Flux
- Hammer
- Nail
- Sandpaper

The odds and ends-

- Your favorite epoxy (I use Gorilla glue myself)
- An Altoids Smalls tin
- Legos (Yes, Legos. specifically a flat 2x6 piece and two 1x2 pieces. The battery holder step will clear this up.)
- About 4 hours worth of free time.

Step 2: Sweat the Body

So, the first time I tried to get a hole in the copper cap, I drilled. It took all my blood, sweat and tears to push the drill through to the other end of the cap. It took so much work I just ditched the cap for the second prototype, but the third time, I wanted that cap. It looked neater.

I took a hammer and nail, and went to work.

Punching two holes took me about two minutes. (Compared to the 10 or so minutes of drilling...)

Step One- Hammer out some holes

Punch two holes through the copper cap with a hammer and nail. The two holes should be relatively close to one another.

Step Two- Make the pipe look cool

Sand the whole pipe. It looks cool. (And that's what Steampunk's about, right?)

Step Three- Sweat it out

Put the fittings on each end and solder the pipe. I don't want to get into the details when there's instructables dedicated to the art of soldering copper pipe. In fact, here's a video.

Step 3: Wire It Up

Step One- Thread the wire

You know those holes you made in the copper cap? Thread a red wire through one hole and a black one through the other. Each wire should be relatively long to start. About twice the size of the body for now.

Step Two- Solder it up

Solder one end of the resistor to the positive (Longer) lead of the LED. The other end of the resistor should be soldered to the end of the red wire. The negative (Shorter) lead of the LED should be soldered to the end of the black wire.

Step Three- Tape it together

Wrap each soldered joint separately with electrical tape. After that, wrap those taped up things together. If that sounds a bit confusing, the provided picture should clear things up. After that, pull the wires back to put the LED just barely inside the pipe. It should be hanging out where the threads of the adapter are.

Step Four- Center the LED

This one is hard to explain, but I think everyone will find their own way around this, Basically, you want the LED in the center of the pipe, or at least as close to the center as you can. I got a piece of electrical tape and  folded it to create little "wings" that kept the LED from moving around too much. The pictures below should explain how I made them.

Step 4: Prep the Tin

Step One- Drill some holes

Before you start drilling, get that flat Lego brick.  Now, lay it flat inside the tin and put it up front. Now draw a line against the brick. You should have a line that divides the tin in half. This is to make sure that you don't drill the hole so close to the brick that the switch won't fit.

It's time to mess with the Altoids tin. Drill a hole on each short side of the tin. They should be far away from the Lego line and be more or less adjacent from one another. You should also be able to close the tin without too much trouble.

Step Two- Thread again

Thread the wires through one of the holes you drilled. Now's the time to cut the wires to size, The wires should be cut to a size that it should fit inside the tin. If you're not sure about how much wire you'll need, remember, it's better to have more wire than you need, than less.

Step Three- Stick it to the pipe

Hot glue a couple of dots on the back of the tin, and push it onto the pipe. 

Step 5: Make a Holder, Solder the Switch

Step One- Tear something apart

They don't have any battery holders for A23 batteries anywhere, so you're gonna have to make your own. First off, you're gonna need some electrical contacts. My first prototype used contacts from an old garage door remote. I bought some cheap door alarms for my other two times, which ended up being a lot better. How you acquire contacts is up to you.

Step Two- Pull a Mcgyver

My first battery holder was inspired by a homemade holder that used blister packs. Now, that was okay, but the pack quickly melted when I messed around with the hot glue- making me search for a stronger alternative. Thankfully, my garage had some Lego bricks that were collecting dust.

First, hotglue the flat piece into the tin.

For the positive contact, I took a small piece of wire and soldered it to the contact. Next, I hotglued the contact onto a Lego brick.

For the negative end, I soldered the contact to the black wire that's already connected to the LED, and hot glued it to the another Lego brick. 

Then it's all a matter of putting the contact pieces on each end of the flat piece. Put the positive contact near the hole you're gonna put the switch on.

Step Three- Switch it up

Install the switch. The switch I used came with a couple easy to loosen nuts. I took off both nuts before slipping the switch through the tin. Then I put one nut back onto the switch to keep it in place.

Step Four- Think Positive

The switch has two terminals, a long one and a short one. Solder the positive wire connected to the LED to the long terminal, and solder the wire connected to the positive contact to the short terminal.

Awesome! Now you have a copper-pipe-UV-Light! Time to push it one step further...

Step 6: Glue on the Glass

Step One- Sanding again

Sand the edges of the female adapter. Be careful not to harm the LED that's nestled inside the pipe.

Step Two- Stick it on

Mix up your epoxy and coat the edges of the adapter. Then place it in the center of the bottom of the glass.

Step Three- Crack open a cold one

Tonic water contains Quinine, which reacts with UV light to produce the blue glowy effect. Now open it, and keep it open until it all goes flat. Carbonation and bottles not designed for carbonation causes leakage.

Step Four- Wait

Congratulations, you have ninety minutes before you can handle your project! What are you gonna do now? I heard Team Fortress 2's Upward map is pretty fun. /sarcasm 

Step Five- Fill it up

After the Tonic Water's gone flat, fill the bottle up to the brim and cap it. Flick the switch and enjoy.

Step 7: Finished!

It's not as flashy as some other steampunk creations I've seen around here, but I designed this with the idea that I could carry this around in my bag when I'm going out to the lake and use it as a (very cool) flashlight.  Besides, there's enough room on the pipe to attach whatever zany thing you want on it- go crazy.

As for how bright it is... It's enough to say that I'd feel comfortable walking around with this thing as my flashlight. It's not as bright as ultrabright LED flashlights, but I could find my way around the dark with it over my head.

Thanks for reading! If you like it, leave a comment, if you make it, send a picture! 

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11 Discussions


9 years ago on Introduction

i think this is pretty cool and im going to make one tomorrow with some slight changes. im going to cut a hole in the pipe and in the back of the tin box and have the wire go through that. the the tin box mounts ontop of that hole, that gets rid of the exposed wires and the tape which makes it look less steamy.


Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

Cool! Glad to see somebody using my instructable. Post a link to some pictures when you're done, won't ya? ^^


Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

yea for sure, i would be happy too ^_^


Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

Unless club soda has Quinine in it, I don't think so.


9 years ago on Introduction

Does the size of the jar/amount of tonic seem to make a noticeable difference in how bright your light is?

Just curious as I'm working on something vaguely similar.


Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

Filling up a smaller bottle to the brim seems to get the best results for me. I think it all has to do with how much power you put behind the LED though.


9 years ago on Introduction

P.S- This is my first instructable, if anything's confusing or whatnot, comment on it!

OK- no, nothing is confusing, this is an excellently written Instructable. My two minor suggestions would be:

1- you don't need to number your steps within the "steps" of the Instructable. Having Step 4 contain steps nine, ten and eleven is a little odd, though you've clearly grasped how each step of the 'ible should be a section of making the thing, so that's only a stylistic suggestion.

2- beware of holding up items for photography in front of a cluttered background. Your camera sees the contrast in the background and tends to focus on the far end of the room, not the thing you are holding up (the first images for steps 3 and 5 show this up). Try to hold things up on in front of a neutral background (white wall?) or photograph them on the tabletop.

Otherwise, great work, and if you keep up this standard I'm sure you'll find your Instructables being featured before long.

Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

Cool, I'll keep that in mind. Thanks man. ^^