High Voltage Plasma Lamp Is Also Tasteful Steampunk

Instructables user [Admiral Aaron Ravensdale] just finished a high voltage plasma bulb build that makes creative use of off-the-shelf parts. As a self-described steampunk, [Adm. Ravensdale] also earned some cred by included working gears in his build.

The heart of the build is a “flicker flame” candle light bulb. These light bulbs have two flame-shaped plates inside the bulb to act as electrodes. Instead of the Argon that normally fills an incandescent light bulb, the candle bulb is filled with Neon. When excited, Argon gives off a rather unnatural purple glow – not very convincing for a simulated candle and certainly not steampunk. The Neon in the flickering candle bulb gives off a brilliant orange, perfect for simulating a flame and will surely impress the duchess during afternoon tea.

After the right plasma bulb was found, [The Admiral] scavenged the rest of the high voltage electronics from disposable cameras. Attaching three electrodes to a brass gear, the entire mechanism was made to spin using parts from an old clock and a CD drive motor. We’re always impressed with the scavenging abilities of steampunkers – we’d still be waiting for our gears to arrive if we attempted this. Check out the video of this really cool and very inexpensive plasma bulb after the break.

21 thoughts on “High Voltage Plasma Lamp Is Also Tasteful Steampunk

    1. yup i thought of the exact same thing. excelent game. excellent project. tempted to build myself one in homage to the game, but obviously nowhere near as good as the finish of this project.

  1. “we’d still be waiting for our gears to arrive if we attempted this” NO
    Because you guys constantly tout your repraps and laser cutters that we are all supposed to have.–Get creative. I made my last gear set out of clay and epoxy.

    Insanely good build and wonderful to look at and I always appreciate scavenged parts!
    /also reminded me of HL :)

  2. MY favorite part of steam-punkers.. they have more money than sense.. I built a GPS with a friend who is a jeweler. It adorns the top of a cane. when you are at your waypoint, you strike the ground with the cane and from now on the rosette of jewels will glow in the direction of that waypoint. I have 4 CR123 batteries doing down the shaft to power it for a long time and it works quite well.

    IT sold for $690.00 almost instantly and she has been overrun with requests to build them one at any price…

  3. I have one or two of those bulbs around here.

    Shame neon is so expensive as this would be a neat hack, make a DIY “gas plasma” display but using a spinning metal item mounted on an induction driven motor inside the tube.

    Once made one of those cheap mini plasma globes into a message display using tinfoil, this also works.

  4. Its nice to see a piece of steampunk work where the gears aren’t just glued on for ornamentation. He should put a 555/556 in there to slow the motor down .Right now the video looks like it is sped up

  5. Umm. Remind me why purple “certainly isn’t steampunk?”. Is there some kind of rulebook? Why limit yourself?

    The gps cane sounds pretty amazing, I’d love to see it demonstrated. But don’t bother with putting on the coattails and monacle before demonstrating. ;)

    1. Purple should be THE steampunk color. The first artificial dye, a nearly purple mauve, was accidentally invented in 1856. The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria’s reign from 20 June 1837 until her death, on 22 January 1901.

      The chemical science of artificial colors exploded (sometimes literally) in the latter period of the Victorian era.

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