USB popcorn popper

[sophia] sent in this interesting little video of a USB popcorn popper. It might just work too – we’ve burned our digits a time or two on a hot flashlight. The bottom is a jar lid, fitted with a pair of high intensity flashlight bulbs. These are wired directly to a USB cable (maybe a bit unwise). When plugged in, the bulbs are on and heat the metal container. Just add oil and popcorn… As usual, you can catch the video after the break.

USB Popcorn MakerThe best free videos are right here


  1. Floe says:

    Uhm.. according to my humble physics knowledge, an USB port can supply a whopping 2.5 Watts (5V * 500mA). And that’s really supposed to be enough for heating that can? I’d be a bit less unbelieving if there would be at least some thermal insulation..

  2. ApprenticeWizard says:

    Aaagh! More … crazy …. high-drain … USB devices!

    So, seriously, when is going to be a USB power plus port on computers: USB rated to (e.g.) 2A a port or similar. And how long until they are integrated into household wiring? “Done wiring the hot, neutral, ground, other ground, and USB Vcc…”

  3. Comm_Hawk says:

    I agree this would take a long time popping them one at a time. The video cuts from the first pop to the last pop. But… the unexploded kernels would goto the bottom where the heat source is. Those lamps were rated at 2.8v @ 300mA = .84W 5v @250mA is a 1.25W. Overdriven lamps could produce extra heat, and burn up your laptops usb port….

  4. DrOctogon says:

    I did some calculations on those usb ‘beverage warmers’ before and determined the same thing; not enough power. I figured out something like if there was %100 efficiency (no loss of heat to the outside, %100 efficient elements, etc.) it would take many hours to warm 10oz water just 20 C. The beverage warmers don’t seem to work, I don’t know how well this one would work either. Maybe if there was just a small small heating dish that heats up, but there is that large metal cup dissipating all the heat…

  5. Umm. Wouldn’t a peltier Junction make more sense? If you built it right you could even cool a beverage on the other side. Popcorn and Pop, surviving the day on USB power alone.

  6. John Wasser says:

    Looks like a hoax to me. The text on the bulb package: “RAYOVAC, High Intensity, 150° centigrade Heater Light, 2.8v 0.3a THA150″ does not correspond to any device I can find. I think most of that text came from a package of 78mm THA150 halogen lamps (110v 150w).

  7. GDX says:

    Well for me is a clear hoax, I think that the text is read as:

    high intensity
    150º celsius heater lights
    2.6v 0.3A THA150

    That text is a clear fake, that bulbs don’t exist and is clearly edited the text, the reason for the last is if you read the last part that appear under the bulbs in the video can be saw a clear error as the “LAMPES DE” is a incomplete french sentence and “LINTERNAS” is flashlights in Spanish.

    The true package of the bulbs is:–2AAA-Mini–Bulb-Rayovac-DASH–DASH-RAYT1–2.aspx

  8. Forget any incongruities with the labels.

    What about (a) the dissipative capacities of the can, which looks like a very nice heatsink (b) the fact that at the end, he picks up the can and dumps out the kernels as soon as they’re done popping.

    It couldn’t have gotten hot enough and if it could have then there was a missing scream and searing flesh at the end. :p

  9. Eddy says:

    A blatant hoax, no where near enough power is available to heat popcorn to that level from a usb port, and even when It had finished there wernt any unpossed kernels at the bottom.. even a real pocorn maker leaves a few unpopped, let alone one powerd by a 150 celcius grain of wheat bulb XD

    Will is great at finding all the hoaxes ;)

  10. miked says:

    does it do one kernel at a time?

  11. Alexander says:


    Need more info? Okay… how about the fact that if the can was hot enough to pop corn (water boiling is 212 at sea level, the can would have had to be much hotter than that) then he would have BURNED HIS HANDS.

    Why can’t people use their heads when it comes to this kind of stuff…

    HaD, I want a much better post from you tomorrow. One with lots of LED’s in it to make up for this obviously DIM post.

  12. ALBERTO says:


    Try to pop popcorn at a low temperature (below 150 degrees C or 300 degrees F). You will find that the popcorn will not pop — it has to get beyond a certain temperature for the pressure inside the kernel to build to the point where popping occurs.


  13. Wwhat says:

    Won’t happen ApprenticeWizard, due to the length limitation of USB you can’t make it part of in-house wiring without repeaters but repeaters introduce lag, also 2A would mean you’d need different wires and there would be a risk of overheating and fire if there was a short-circuit which would mean all the devices would need new certifications.
    Of course since you can’t do it officially that doesn’t mean there isn’t a ‘hackaday’ way, see this link for instance:
    And there are commercial USB to UTP and UTP to USB converters that can extend USB a long long way, but that requires UTP cabling, so CAT6 cabling is your best and most universal bet if you want to cable your house up for these things, I think there even are UTP to HDMI converters
    And of course if you want a 2A USB connector you can just solder a molex power connector to the right pins of a female USB connector and connect it to an PSU and you’d have your high-power, in fact some devices come with mains/car poweradaptors with an USB connector that deliver 1A or even more.

  14. Matthew says:

    Since there seems to be a consensus that the USB can’t pop the corn due to lack of power…

    How about a USB popcorn popper that uses external power and monitors the kernels to give you the perfect ratio of popped kernels to burnt popcorn. i.e. get as many popped as you can without burning the rest

  15. Haku says:

    No more metacafe videos please, because the site pays people who have very popular videos there will always be people uploading hoax instructables hoping to make money.

    If you really want to cook on USB you need to use more than one port… – that one I can believe because there will be about 75 watts going into that heater.

  16. Christopher Reitmann says:

    I think it could be made more efficient by adding some sort of photovoltaic to the circuitry. Ooh by using some sort of translucent substance that conducts electricity and stores and transfer heat efficiently, you might be able to make it heat up faster and require less electricity…oh yeah, when I said “conduct electricity” I meant to be used with a home-made copper photovoltaic. The clearness of the substance and the ability to conduct electricity would replace the salt-water.

  17. as others have alluded. there simply is not enough power available from USB to do this. this is a linkbait video that is obviously working.

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