UltraViolet LED Bug Zapper




Introduction: UltraViolet LED Bug Zapper

Make your Bug-Zapper GREEN and Last Forever!

I have had a couple of these inexpensive bug-zappers that can run off battery or through a plug-in power supply.
These things work pretty good, until the UV fluorescent bulb burns out!
I seem to get maybe 2 years out of these bulbs and then finding a replacement bulb can be tricky and expensive!
So, when my father was looking for an alternative to the replacement black fluorescent bulb for $12, I suggested UV LEDS from Radio Shack.

These UV LEDs have several advantages;
1) easy to get and fairly cheap and should never burn out!
          (Radio Shack Catalog #: 276-014 $1.69 for a pack of 2),

2) they use less power then the bulb, so the battery should last longer, GREEN!

3) they don't contain any mercury like the fluorescent bulb does, GREENER!

My father and i had two different types of Zappers that had the same type of dead fluorescent bulb. Since they come apart quite differently we went about putting the LEDs in there differently too. I've got more pictures of my modification so i'll use that one as the example.

You Will Need
2 packs of 2 Ultraviolet LEDs from Radio Shack, Catalog #276-014
1 pack of 68 ohm 1/2W 5% Carbon Film Resistor pk/5, Catalog #: 271-1106
1 Battery operated Bug Zapper, otherwise there might not be low voltage DC inside to drive the UV LEDs.

also the basic soldering equipment including
Soldering pencil,
Wire Cutters,
Black Electrical tape,
Heat shrink tubing would be nice

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Step 1: Safety First!

There's High Voltage in Here!
remember this:

1: There can be high voltage when it's unplugged, or even when it's off!
     Build a shorting rod of some sorts. I used a bamboo skewer and put a couple inches of Aluminum tape at the end. I tap it against the screen to see if it's hot, and also to short it out after I shut it off again.

2: Remove the battery leads, and make sure they don't accidentally touch the battery contacts again. But you will have to power it up sometime...

3: Be Careful! This stuff can hurt you. Even if the voltage itself doesn't cause real harm, and it might, you could get hurt by falling off the chair or hitting your arm against something as it snaps back. NO FUN. Don't play with things you shouldn't.

Step 2: First, Get the LEDs!

The LEDs are powered from a 6 volt battery that's inside the unit, the big black box there. Other battery powered Zappers might use a different voltage like 12 volts so you will need to adjust the resistor and wiring accordingly. If there's no DC power source already in the unit, then it might be difficult to add.

It's easy to wire the ultraviolet LEDs off of 6 volts with a dropping resistor in series. In my zapper the ON/OFF switch was down by the battery, and the switched power then went to the circuit board at the top. I figured I can put two UV LEDs at each end of where the old Fluorescent tube was, for a total of 4, driven off the same wire carrying the 6 volts to the circuit board.

We got our Ultraviolet LEDs from Radio Shack, convenient and affordable!
Here's what to ask for.  I used a total of four so get at least two packs.
5mm High-Brightness Ultraviolet LED (2-Pack) $1.69
Model: 276-014 | Catalog #: 276-014

Not all stores will have them, so you can call ahead first, or check online at this address.

These are like "standard" LEDs in that the negative lead is the shorter one, has the flat-side of the LED body next to it, and also is connected to the larger piece of metal you can see inside the LED body itself.
an instructable is worth a thousand words (?)

Step 3: Wiring the LEDs With a Dropping Resistor

I was able to use the same connector from the fluorescent tube to hold the two LEDs on each end. I simply cut the leads a bit, then bent them appropriately, getting the polarities correct. I connected them in parallel, negative to negative, and positive to positive, and angled away from each other a bit.

I want to run these LEDs at 20milliAmps each from a power supply of 6 volts and the LED forward bias voltage should be about 2.8volts.
(6v - 2.8v) / 20mA = 180 ohms for the dropping resistor in series with the LED.

But, since we have two LEDs in parallel, we need to double that 20mA to 40mA total. So to let more current flow we cut that resistor by half to 80 Ohms or so.

NOTE: It is really not 'proper' to connect two LEDs in parallel with only one dropping resistor since they might suck up slightly different currents because of device differences. the total might be 40mA for both LEDs, as designed, but one might be getting 22mA while the other is only getting 18mA. It's better to build in one resistor for each LED, but, this was easier then mounting two resistors in there and they don't have to be the exact same brightness anyway...

I happen to have some 67 Ohm resistors around, so I used those. You can measure the voltage across the resistor when it's powering the LEDs to calculate the current flowing through both the LEDs.
In my case i measured 3.2volts across the resistor of 67Ohms.
3.2v / 67 ohms = 48mA
so approximately 24mA per LED.

Remember which lead is Positive or Negative!

Next: How to reflect the UV light

Step 4: UV Deflector Tube

I looked around my shack and noticed some clear, 1/2" plastic tubing laying around. Since this is about the same diameter as the old fluorescent tube it can occupy the same space nicely, and it's just wide enough for the two LEDs, side-by-side at either end.

I hooked up the LEDs to a power supply and resistor for testing first and you can see quite a clear spot coming out it, probably 6" wide at a 12" distance.

NOTE: you can use a white T-shirt to see the beam. Anything white that was recently bleached or at least cleaned would be good. The chlorine in the bleach really shows up the Ultraviolet light nicely.

Now, both pairs of LEDs are pointing at each other, inside the tube. But the light can still shoot through the tube as a beam.
So, to cause the light to bounce all around and not just in one direction I simply sanded the outside of the clear tubing to make it "frosted". This seemed to work well enough. I don't think this type of tubing absorbs UV very much. most of it should go right through it.

Then i mounted the tube and 2 connector assembly back into the Zapper just the way it used to be.

Step 5: Wiring in the "Solid State Ultraviolet" Tube

In the first picture you can see I reassembled the "replacement bulb" just like it was when I found it, but now the leads connect to the 4 ultraviolet LEDs (2 on each end) and not an expensive and short-lived fluorescent tube.
You can also see the 67 Ohm resistor I soldered on to the Blue ground wire in my particular Bug Zapper. It doesn't matter if the resistor is on the Positive leg or negative leg in this situation.
Next i'll solder the negative wire coming from the LEDs to the resistor and then i'll solder the positive lead to the Brown wire, which in my zapper comes from the switch after coming off the batterie's 6 volt positive terminal.

The second pic show the same thing going on at the top of the zapper.

Then, I reassembled everything carefully. Taking pictures can help you remember how these things go back together....

Step 6: Same Thing Using a Different Type of Zapper.

My father did this one before I did mine. The case on this type of zapper wasn't easy to open up so he worked from the bottom only. instead of a clear plastic tube he used a piece of wood dowel about 1/2" in diameter and stapled some 14 to 12 gauge wire along the lengths of the dowel, one wire for the positive 6 volts and one for the ground.
This is sort of visible in the second picture.
Then he soldered the LED leads to these wires right on the dowel, and bent them into position, pointing outwards.
it seems to work very well, there are many more mosquitos in his neighborhood than mine!

Step 7: Working Ultraviolet LED Bug Zapper

Here's a photo and a short video of the finished product working.

  The flash washes out the blue light, but the video cam seemed to capture what it looked like. Seems as bright as before, but i'm not really sure just what mosquitos appreciate in UV light anyway!

I would like to know how much power the old bulb used compared to this method.
And also if the light does need to be scattered or if a direct beam from the LED is ok.
Does it need more LEDs? it seems as bright as with the tube, but possibly not as deep UV.
Always room for improvement. Suggestions Invited!

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    14 Discussions


    9 months ago

    OK I’m a little late to the game here but I’ve read that mosquitoes aren’t really attracted to UV light so you’ll end up killing a lot of beneficial bugs - you really need CO2 and a certain chemical that attracts them. Sad I was hoping something like this would work.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Response Of Adult Mosquitoes To Light-Emitting Diodes ...

    A source when asking about light spectrum that attracts bugs, mosquitoes r.e. bug zappers, replacing UV Fluorescent tubes in bug zappers:


    by MT Bentley - ‎2009 - ‎Cited by 8 - ‎Related articles

    Jan 1, 2009 - ABSTRACT. The response of adult mosquitoes.....
    IMHO: I see that the smart guys claim that Green LEDs are better for specific mosquito attractant , but some of what I read said blue ( not UV) and green LEDs. It is hard to argue that the UV fluorescent lamp units seem to attract more numbers of all types of bugs. Some of the Youtube videos show continuous zapping of wasps and bees. But if you said hey I only want to target mosquitoes- and there are hundreds of sub-types- looks like white ( wide spectrum) ,green and blue ( not UV) is what the university studies show were most effective- for mosquitoes. The dichotomy is that all high-power bug zappers include the UV fluorescent tubes and they accumulate piles of dead bugs and I find it hard to argue that the UV tube type DON"T WORK when they are filling trash cans full of carcases using the fluorescent UV tubes. Eco types say we are killing all the beneficial bugs too and that is bad. A common theme seems to be, the darned bugs are eating me up and I want to kill them all! There are color changing LEDs on ebay but I am not sure if they are effective: spectrum, species attraction, intensity. A guy should include various types of LEDS and experiment for an optimal efficacy. If you had a microprocessor you could count the zaps and tune for max kill conditions, blue LED; on green; On White Off and I got more per unit time than before.....? Any uP guys out there want to make the psycho bug killer that tunes for max kill? RoboTerminator? Thank You I enjoy reading the dialogs and adventures that you have experienced.

    6 years ago on Step 7

    Really like what you did there! I just bought one of these at a Salvation Army last week, and it looks like it's hardly been used. Charged it up, and it held a full charge for hours. Not a bad seven dollar investment!
    I have read lots of posts pertaining to the bulb life, so I'll surely keep this project on the "back burner" for when my black light fades away.
    One thing I did do first off was to take a pair of wire snippers and clip all of the center rungs on both sides of the unit. My theory is that this will make scrubbing the bug debris off of the charging grid with an old tooth brush an easy task. Can't wait for summer now to get ZAPPIN' ! :^)


    7 years ago on Step 3

    I like the on-line calculator at http://www.pcboard.ca/kits/led_notes/
    It even includes the power calculation so you can choose the right power rating for the resistor.

    dark sponge
    dark sponge

    9 years ago on Introduction

    Great concept, but there are different types of UV light. The original fluorescent lamp you had was made for the specific purpose of insect attraction. Insects are attracted by UV light around 350-370 nm. The LEDs you installed are advertised as being 395-410 nm in wavelength, way out of the optimal insect attraction range. LEDs in that range are relatively expensive, which is why manufacturers use fluorescent tubes instead.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Excellent project. I think mosquitoes are attracted by infrared also, let's put in the modified zapper a pair of IR LEDs also. I'll do that in my l burnt out bug zappers


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! that's real interesting information. I was hoping to gather some more details like that. do you know where i can find more? it would be great to see an "attraction" curve for mosquitoes, and to hear why it works too. i'll try and spend some quality time with google later.... i did find a spectrograph of this LED before, but can't find the link right now. Still, it seems to be working by my father's in Massachusetts, but we are having a cold spell where I am now, and there's nothing to catch at night.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    be caareful with this, long time exposure to your skin with this light can cause health problems


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    no way! a uv led cant ossibly cause any harm... can it?


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Long time exposure can. The Sun emmits harmful rays too.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Excellent instructable! I was considering buying one of these zappers, so when the fluorescent tubes fail I will do the same. UV LEDs are pretty cheap on ebay, you can buy 50 of them for about $4. Have you considered installing a strip of LEDs? Are two LEDs enough for attracting mosquitoes? Did you try? Good job! K.