The Champagne of Light Bulbs

We’re all used to making our own lighting projects. Triac dimmers, LEDs, Neopixels, EL wire, there is a huge array of lighting components and technologies at our fingertips. But how many of us have made our own lighting rather than buying off-the-shelf? [Confined Maker] set out to do just that by creating an incandescent light bulb from scratch, and since he’s obviously a hacker with a bit of class he did it in an empty Dom Perignon champagne bottle.

It might seem a daunting project, but as he shows us in the video below the break, it turns out to be surprisingly straightforward with no exotic tooling required. He starts by winding a fine coil of thin tungsten wire round a dowel to act as his filament, before bringing a pair of enameled copper wires through holes drilled in the base of the bottle and out of the neck. The ends of these wires are then spliced to his filament and secured with conductive epoxy before the whole assembly is carefully slid back into the bottle. The holes are caulked with silicone, and the bottle is then carefully charged with argon. Argon is heavier-than-air, so he can do this on the bench with nothing more than a bicycle tube inflator and a drinking straw. The bottle is then sealed with a cork and more silicone, and his bulb is ready.

The first power-up with 120V mains power sees a puff of smoke inside the bottle as a coating on the tungsten is vapourised, but after that the bulb does its job well. He’s concerned about his epoxy melting, and the filament has moved to one side of the bottle so he’s not sure about the lifetime he can expect, but to make a working light bulb with such basic equipment is still an impressive accomplishment. His video below the break is eleven and a half minutes long, but well worth watching every minute.

In the past we’ve looked at the manufacture of incandescent light bulbs through a fascinating film of a light bulb factory, but perhaps unsurprisingly due to LED availability we’ve not featured a home-made light bulb before. We have of course looked at home made tubes quite a few times.

9 thoughts on “The Champagne of Light Bulbs

    1. Yes it would. Whether the bottle will break just depends on what sort of stress it’s under from the drilled holes, and the uneven heating from the filament. All chances are it will shatter if you leave it on.

      The whole build is pretty terrible and terrifying overall. The silicone in the cork for example will release solvents inside the bottle as it dries, and the solvents will burn up against the filament and cover the whole thing with soot from the inside, the same as using epoxy (plastic) to attach the filament to the copper.

      With a bit more thought, he could have just drilled a bigger hole at the bottom and built a filament hanger out of steel wire like they did in actual bulbs, and lower the bottle onto the filament base instead of squeezing it in through the neck.

      For oxygen scavenging he could have washed a bunch of steel wool in water and acetone to remove the soap, string it to the filament in the hanger and it would have burned the oxygen out on the first light.

  1. Seems just wrong to drill holes in a bottle that already has a hole in it, if he’ed looked up building “Ships in Bottles” he probably could have gotten some tips on working through one hole, also why not put a tube in the cork, vacuum the bottle out with some kind of pump and then put the argon in, this would allow him to pinch off the tube and lose less argon. And finally complaint, he should have used a beer bottle, then he could have a lite beer light.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s