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Help Making a Toaster Lamp Answered

Kats, I need some help making a toaster lamp. Now I know what you’re thinking, “ I always wanted to make a toaster lamp!”. Well now’s your chance to help. In its simplest form a toaster lamp would be a base of a toaster with the top of a table lamp. The lamp operates like a normal lamp by pulling the string or turning the switch. The electronics in the toaster would be disabled or removed for safety reasons. This would be the simplest model. But I would like to build a model where you press the toaster lever down and the lamp lights up. To turn the light off you press the cancel button or press the toaster lever up. Furthermore the light-dark setting on the toaster would act as a dimmer switch for the lamp. The toaster heating elements would be disabled for safety reasons. Now a basic toaster works like this: When you push down on the handle, a plastic bar presses against the contacts and applies power to the circuit board. 120-volt power runs directly through the contacts to the nichrome wires to start toasting the bread. A simple circuit made up of transistors, resistors and capacitors turns on and supplies power to an electromagnet. The electromagnet attracts the piece of metal on the handle, holding the bread in the toaster. The simple circuit acts as a timer. A capacitor charges through a resistor, and when it reaches a certain voltage it cuts off the power to the electromagnet. The spring immediately pulls the two slices of bread up. In the process, the plastic bar rises and cuts off power to the toaster. Some of the problems I’m facing are the voltage to the electromagnet and PC board is about 12 volts. If you bypass the nichrome wires that would send 120 volts to the PC board which would toast it. So we need a way to do that. Another problem is we don’t want the capacitor to cut off power to the electromagnet, that would shut off the light. We could not charge the capacitor by putting a larger resistor before it, I’m not sure how to do this. The ideal solution would be to gut the toasters electronics, replace it with a circuit that does what I want, and the toaster just becomes a façade. Now that I’ve outlined what I want to do are there any electronics wizards out there who can design me a circuit to do this? Thanks Paul


Well, in my opinion the first thing you should do is gut anything that you do not want especially those old capacitor which can contain harmful cemicals.Then go to your local hardware store and buy a rheostat, because most of the toaster timer I have seen work off of heat and will not act as a dimmer. You will want to insulate the heck out of any exposed wires because that toaster is all metal. Can you post some more pictures of the press down handle so I can see I you can use the switch? I like your idea though very novel.

Sedgewick17, Due to time constraints, I have decided to simplify the design of this model by eliminating the idea of trying to power the electro-magnet to hold the lever down. It works like this: There is a plastic catch on the carriage assembly that moves down when you press the toast lever down. This catch engages with another plastic catch which is attached to a metal plate on top of the electromagnet. When the electromagnet is energized the metal plates attracts to the electromagnet which holds the carriage down. However, you can cancel the process by pushing up "lightly" on the lever. At first I thought when you push up on the lever you would have to break the contact with the electromagnet, which would require a fair amount of force, since the electromagnet is quite strong (you would probably lift the toaster off the counter before the electromagnet released.) But when I tried it I discovered there was a separate spring loaded release mechanism that allows the plastic catch on the carriage to gently release from the catch on top of the electromagnet even when the electromagnet is still energized. So instead of trying to get power to the electromagnet, I just cut power to the whole circuit board and put a couple rubber bands around the electromagnet. This keeps it always closed. The mechanical catch handles the up and down release action for me. It works quite nicely. I'll turn this into an instructable soon and you'll see what I mean. In the future I might try to make a more complex toaster lamp that actually uses the electromagnet and the cancel button as they were more or less designed to be used.

If you use a rheostat, use a triac too, to eliminate ringing.

Would pulling the heater element and replacing it with the light bulb cord work?

Many toasters hum or buzz while they are toasting. The humming sound comes from the electromagnet. I doubt whether the humming would be desirable in a lamp. Cheers, Pat. Pending

The only toaster I ever dismantled (I was to replace the cord on it, but it never happened), was an old style one. It had no electromagnet in it, but the "timer" was a bimetal thermostat that broke contact when it got hot enough.

The thing was made up of half a million pieces, and when I tried to get to the area where the cord was attached, it pretty much "fell apart". I tried, but there was no way I was getting that thing back together. The insulation in it was actually sheets of mica, that is how old this puppy was.

The easiest way to do this is get a large solid-state relay like this:


The circuit would basically be a series as follows:

the toaster lever, wired to the DC side of the relay, wired to the electromagnet, wired to another switch (N/C... i.e. normally closed)

That way, when you close the lever switch it turns everything on and fires up the magnet, but when you open the N/C closed switch, it opens the switch/breaks the connection, disables the electromagnet and turns off the lamp.

On the other AC side of the relay, you simply connect one of the lamp wires.

In my mind, that should do it.

Thats a good idea. I didn't know there was such a thing. I'll try it. Thanks

Just take out all of that timer junk. I don't think you need it.... Replace the nichrome wire with the lightbulb, and get a dimmer switch for a lightbulb. All that you need to do is take the knob off the dimmer switch and put the shaft through the hole where the "dark/light" knob is. Hook the dimmer switch up to the Lightbulb and the Power cord, and you're done!

This doesn't handle how to override the timer which controls the electromagnet which holds the switch down. The light will keep going off as the toaster pops up.

Oh, okay. So you put a permanent magnet there. When you want the light to go off, just manually pop the toaster up ;)

Now I know what you're thinking, " I always wanted to make a toaster lamp!"

Actually, I wasn't. Your skills as a clairvoyant are less than impressive;-)


Pat. Pending