It is hard to remember now, but there was a time when electronics were expensive. [Adrian Black] found some 9W (60W equivalent) LED light bulbs at the Dollar Tree (a U.S. store where everything costs a dollar). Naturally, they cost a dollar, and he wanted to see what was inside of them. You can see the resulting video, below.
Apparently where [Adrian] lives there is a subsidy paid to retailers for selling LED lighting, so you may not be able to get the same bulbs at that price. Still, the price of these bulbs has dropped like a rock over the last few years.
It is interesting to see how you cut costs when your volumes go so high. For example, the bulb has two boards in it. They mate with an ingenious slot system cut into the boards themselves and then just solder together. There are 9 LED devices inside, each with three LEDs. The power supply? Just a bridge rectifier and a smoothing capacitor. There’s just not much inside.
When you think about electronic prices in the past, consider that the purchasing power of the dollar keeps dropping, too. A radio might have cost $50 in 1935 and a much better performing radio might cost $10 today. But in 1935, $50 would have been two months of rent or more. So the real comparison isn’t $50 to $10, it is more like $1600 to $10. How can you manufacture a bunch of plastic pieces, 9 LED devices, a capacitor, a bridge rectifier, an IC, two PCBs, and some resistors, put them together, stick them in a printed box, and ship them across the ocean and wind up selling them for a dollar? Keep in mind, too, the store isn’t giving them away, so the actual cost must be less (not counting any subsidy). Amazing.
We’ve talked about scaling designs, although few of us will ever get a design made in the numbers of something like this. Oh, and while we know this isn’t actually a hack, we think you’ll agree this is.