I wanted to give my girlfriend a unique gift for Valentines Day and the idea of putting something special inside a light bulb came to me after seeing an Instructable on how to make light bulb coat hangars. I was expecting it to be a lot more work than it was. I was actually able to complete the project in the span of just a few hours, and now you can too!
The second picture is the schematic (wiring diagram). I am aware that only using one resistor for all the LEDs is bad practice but I did not want to put resistors on the LEDs that are attached to the frames because it would have looked cluttered. Since the LEDs will not be on all the time I figured that only using one resistor is not a huge deal.
Also, no worries if you are not electrically inclined. If you do not want to add any LEDs or anything, just ignore all the steps dealing with them.
Just think of all the cheesy puns you can use when you give this to him/her!
Step 1: Parts List
For this project you may need to do a little shopping. Luckily, everything can be found around the house or bought on Ebay. The total cost for the project can easily be kept under $20.
Items I Used:
- A light bulb: It does not have to be clear because the white powder on the inside of the glass can be rinsed out.
- A few feet of 18 - 26 AWG solid wire.
- Several feet of magnet wire, no smaller than 30 AWG.
- Some LEDs, I used 11.
- A 220 ohm resistor.
- A 9-volt battery.
- A 9-volt battery clip.
- A small switch.
- A picture of yourself and your significant other.
Feel free to add additional components to your design! There are a lot of different things you can do to add your own touch. For example: using a 555 timer chip to make the LEDs fade? If you're not really handy with electricity you can even just skip out on the electronics.
You may also want to buy more than one light bulb in case you accidently break the one you are working with.
Step 2: Disassemble the Light Bulb
Taking apart the light bulb was the first thing I did after gathering my materials and it is less difficult than it sounds. You will want to wear safety glasses and gloves because you are going to break some glass. I would also advise working over a trash can or plastic tarp to prevent glass from getting everywhere.
Step 1: (Refer to the first picture). Peel back the little solder pad on the bottom of the light bulb and clip it off with a wire cutter.
Step 2: You will see a small hole in the black glass after you peel off the solder pad. Work a screw driver into the hole and break off all the black glass.
Step 3: (Refer to second picture). You will now be able to see inside of the light bulb. The glass stem holds the filaments in the light bulb and you are going to want to carefully break off the stem from the rest of the light bulb. It will take some force. Try not to break off the brown stuff because that is glue that holds the bulb to the metal socket.
Step 4: (Refer to third picture). You can now remove the stem from the bulb if you haven't already, and break off any remaining glass fragments from inside the bulb. When you're done, I recommend washing out the bulb with some water to get rid of any glass particles that didn't make there way into the trash.
Step 3: Make the Picture Frames
Making the picture frames is actually quite simple but it takes a little while to do. You are going to want to start with two pieces of bare wire. You will also need the magnet wire.
The wonderful thing about magnet wire is that it is enameled, so it won't conduct electricity unless the enamel is removed. You can remove the enamel from the magnet wire by either burning it off with a lighter, or sanding it off with a little bit of sandpaper. Either way, you must remove the enamel from the parts of the wire that are touching the postive leg of the LEDs, but you have to be careful to leave enamel on the parts that touch the frame so that the LEDs work properly and do not short out.
Step 1: Tightly twist the two solid strand wires together until it looks like the first picture. Make sure you leave at least an inch of untwisted wire at each end so you can form the heart shape and solder the frame to the breadboard.
Step 2: Form the heart shape using some pliers. Make sure to make the heart smaller than the opening in the light bulb or it won't fit!
Step 3: You can now solder on the LEDs. Solder the negative leg of the LED to the frame and bend the positive leg outward.
Step 4: (Refer to second and third picture). Start at the top and work your way down with the magnet wire. Start by wrapping one end of the wire around the positive leg of the first LED, then wrap the wire around the frame a few times and move onto the second LED. Once the wire has been wrapped around the second LED, repeat the process with the remaining LEDs. Remember to burn off the enamel that is wrapped around the positive leg of the LED.
Step 5: When you're done with the last LED, wrap the magnet wire around the frame a few more times and then burn off the end of it and solder/wrap it around a small piece of wire (see third picture).
Step 6: (Refer to 4th picture). Do a quick test to see if the LEDs work correctly. Use a breadboard or similar device to wire a 220 ohm resistor to the positive sign on the 9-volt battery. Connect the negative to the frame and the resistor to the small piece of wire connected to the magnet wire. If the LEDs don't light up, check to make sure there are not any shorts.
Remember to do this process twice! You will need a frame for both you and your significant other.
Step 4: Adding the Pictures
Get a picture of yourself and your significant other and insert them into Microsoft Word or a similar program. Then re-size them until they are at least as tall and wide as the heart shaped frame. Once that is done, print them out and cut them so they will fit into the frames. You will want two pictures of each person so you can glue them back to back. Once you have them all cut out, carefully glue them to the frames.
Step 5: Secure Everything
After making sure everything works, you will want to solder everything to the breadboard. I decided to add three more LEDs to the breadboard to add some more light. Refer to the schematic at the beginning of this Instructable for wiring instructions. In the first picture, the resistor is connected to positive and the white wire is the negative.
If you are not using any electronics, you can simply glue the frames to the breadboard or to something that can act as a base.
Step 6: Putting It All Together
You can now carefully slide the light bulb over everything you have made so far. Glue it down to the breadboard after making sure everything is working properly.
Step 7: Finishing Touches
Hooray! you're almost done. Just connect the switch and the 9-volt battery clip and then make a little base for everything.
If you liked the project or are just feeling nice, feel free to vote for me for the contests! :)