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make your own incandescent light bulb  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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paul wheaton
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I remember Ernie telling me about how the navy had a light bulb system where the light bulbs were all a thick glass. If a light bulb ever stopped working, there was a light bulb repair kit. You would open up the light bulb, replace the filament, put the light bulb back together, suck out all the air and then put the light bulb back into service. The only consumable was the teeny tiny filament.

I would very much like to see any pictures or links or references to that or things like that.
 
paul wheaton
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I want to see progress in this space. And Chaya and Wilson from pantryparatus.com want that too. So they are offering a $250 gift card for me to hand out to the best contributor in this space.

I'm hoping that a permie will post pictures of their own mason jar light bulb. Maybe they managed to introduce a vacuum. Maybe a better filament. Maybe a source for filaments?

Maybe only one person will post - and that post will be the information that corroborates the navy mend-a-bulb story from ernie.

Maybe there will be video? Or even better: video and pictures? Video, pictures and awesome innovation!

If this turns out to be a huge success, we'll have to figure out a way to make this a regular thing!
 
Jody Tracy
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This kit might be a good start:



http://www.teachersource.com/product/668/electricity-magnetism?gclid=CKTBr_bA4rsCFepaMgod-VcA_Q



This one is the 'cheap and dirty' method (though I don't know why I wouldn't just use insulated wire):



http://invention.smithsonian.org/centerpieces/edison/000_lightbulb_01.asp



Also, this bulb provides some inspiration for improvement on the basic light bulb:



http://www.livescience.com/14700-longest-burning-lightbulb-110-years-livermore-california.html


I think I'll have to experiment with this and report back!

Jody
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Jody Tracy wrote:
I think I'll have to experiment with this and report back!

Jody


Ooo, please do! With pics and/or videos!
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Here is an interesting article on how to do the filament and what to do to get the air out. I thought that most bulbs had a vacuum inside, but according to the article they are in fact filled with a mix of nitrogen and argon.
 
Ryan Workman
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I just had a thought. Normal light bulbs are filled with a noble gas such as Argon which are not reactive or corrosive like oxygen is. I was thinking of ways to remove the oxygen from the repairable light bulb.

1. use dry ice and replace oxygen with CO2
2. have something inside the bulb that you light on fire, seal up the bulb, fire consumes remaining oxygen
3. liquid nitrogen. Not really readily available to most people.

 
Anthony DeGraw
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http://youtu.be/xO5lGpFGcJY

Here is a little inspiration, a song saying goodbye to the incandescent light bulb.. So sad.

I didn't realize it was that easy and plan to fool with this when getting home tonight also.
 
C. Letellier
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If argon is used in bulbs probably the easiest would be to simply fill the bulb with argon. Any welding outfit that welds aluminum should have it on hand for TIG and MIG welding. Since it is heavier than air you should be able to simply "pour" your bulb full with gas and put the top on. A heated combustible inside of some sort could then clean up the little remaining oxygen inside if it was a problem(touch it off with a magnifying glass?) once the bulb is sealed or maybe an iron and salt oxygen absorber in the bulb.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Here is how they are mass produced.

 
Philip Durso
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Helium could be used as well. I bet a unsealed jar turned upside down would be sufficient to trap the gas and displace any oxygen. TIG welding electrodes might make a good tungsten filament or better yet pyrolyzed bamboo!
 
Anthony Aiuppa
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Heres an interesting video about the tungsten filaments.

 
Len Ovens
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Jody Tracy wrote:
Also, this bulb provides some inspiration for improvement on the basic light bulb:

http://www.livescience.com/14700-longest-burning-lightbulb-110-years-livermore-california.html



I had read about this bulb before. This is the first article I have seen to reveal that it is running at 4 watts even though it is a 60 watt bulb. I wonder how low a standard 60 watt "1000 hour" bulb would run and how much light would be produced at 4 watts. Putting two 60 watt bulbs in series would drop them from 60 watts each to 15 watts each (30 watts total) and putting four in series would give close to 4 watts each, but a total of 15 watts. I should say "about" because the impedance (mostly straight resistance in this case) of the filament changes depending on how hot it is. I wonder how long a 60 watt bulb running at 30 v (4 watts or so) would last.... in this case 110 years.

The problem with wiring bulbs in series is that if one dies they all stop working... like the old mini-lights we used to use at Christmas before LEDs. One has to figure out which one has blown by trial and error (or 4 neon lights, one in parallel with each I-lamp). Just for some reference, the old night lights used 7 watt bulbs. So 4 watts is not very bright. Notice the light above is very orange in colour.

So maybe lets think 15 watts... which is easier to do on a bulb by bulb basis. (I am not sure actually... it may cut the power in half) Adding a diode in series with the light will only allow it to use half of the available power. It would be like turning the lamp off half the time, but for a very short time (1/120th of a second). As it turns out we already do this anyway but we cycle it faster. With the diode, the bulb would cycle at 60 cycles per second instead of 120 cycles per second be cause we would skip every second one. This is why I am thinking this would give half power rather than the quarter power putting two bulbs in series would give. Each cycle would be at 120 v (rms, so a higher peek voltage) but in series the voltage would be 60 across each bulb which is a quarter power.

It would be good to try it both ways and see what a light meter says.

Next question... would two 60 watt lamps running at 30 watts each give as much light as one 60 watt lamp at 60 watts? (I do know there would be a colour difference)

When I have time... I will buy some parts and do some testing... if someone doesn't beat me to it. After all, why make a bulb with replaceable parts if a normal bulb can be made to last 10 to 30 (or maybe a lot more) times longer anyway?

Other thoughts:
Vacuum pumping - It may be easier to collect the oxygen from the air inside by burning something after sealing than pumping. Pumping the air out is not 100% and would still leave some oxygen inside the bulb.

Graphite does not make a very good filament. It may make an ok sacrificial burner to use up the oxygen in the bulb though.... but maybe there is something better that makes less smoke and doesn't leave the inside cloudy.
 
Philip Durso
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May not be the best news...but I have a lead on the Navies lightbulb repair kit
https://m.facebook.com/USNVets/posts/10151090227487862

 
Len Ovens
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Adrien Lapointe wrote:Here is how they are mass produced.


Interesting. I thought it was interesting too, how they said some steps were to ensure "long life" when in fact we know there are also steps to ensure short life... I wonder what those measures are. Do they just design for a lower voltage so that in normal use they are over voltage?
 
paul wheaton
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paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
 
Philip Durso
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Antique Thomas Edison lightbulbs

 
Brian Knight
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For my energy raters blog page on these new and trendy edison bulbs check it out.

http://wncgreenblogcollective.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/trendwatch-edison-light-bulbs/



I hope that all people and especially permaculturists that are choosing and using these bulbs are extremely conservative with their usage or generate their own power from renewable energy sources.
 
Robert Overturf
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I know this thread is dedicated specifically to the incandescent bulb, but along the same lines and potentially toward a similar goal, does anyone know how Nichola Tesla originally manufactured his light bulbs used in radiant energy experiments? These would not have had any kind of filament, but rather a rod that would come up through the middle terminating with a small orb at the tip for coronal discharge.

 
Len Ovens
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Brian Knight wrote:For my energy raters blog page on these new and trendy edison bulbs check it out.

http://wncgreenblogcollective.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/trendwatch-edison-light-bulbs/

I hope that all people and especially permaculturists that are choosing and using these bulbs are extremely conservative with their usage or generate their own power from renewable energy sources.


An entertaining read for sure. It would be interesting to see how long these old style bulbs last. In my experience, CFLs are expensive and last even shorter than the normal 1000 hour bulbs we use now. I guess the the same people who make sure light bulbs only last 1000 hours have been working on the CFLs too... and who knows how long before they get to the LED bulbs. So, when I have money, I replace burned out CFLs with LED lamps... otherwise the old light bulb goes in... it will last longer and I don't have to make a special trip somewhere to turn in a CFL, probably to end up in land fill in some 3rd world country.

On the bright dull side, there are ways to have longer lasting better lights. Vehicle lamps seem to last much longer, both light bulbs and LED. Appliance bulbs seem to last longer too. If you want florescent lamps, tubes last longer and have an external method of starting (starting being what gives up on CFLs too soon). Also ballasts are easy to replace, though I am not sure about quality any more.

Certainly stay away from trends. Whatever, everyone is buying is going to have the shortest life. Look for niche products for emergency/safety use where they have to work. Look for products that are running below their rated output/supply.

With lamps, light only the needed area, not the whole house (same as heating). There is a balance between long life, cost of replacement, cost to the planet and efficiency. Low efficiency does not always win. (I should probably add "availability" in there too... in the end, I can always make candles from cow/whatever fat) The last thing is to do things that require bright light when the sun is out. I know that we expect to extend our day with artificial lighting, but it is healthier to roll with the seasons when we can. Besides there are some really fun activities where light doesn't matter too much.

That leaves us where we started. I can't make LEDs, though I could assemble the lamp with a power supply, I can't make CFLs (or even repair them), but light bulbs look (look and doable may be farther apart than we think ) tantalizingly close to something we could make or repair. The biggest thing I can see stopping this is a supply of fine enough nichrome wire. This is off grid living assuming own power and maybe sometimes no access to a store or replacement lamps. Is this worth it? I don't know, I am thinking flame lighting may not be so bad... burnable stuff will always be around so long as we have food.
 
D. Logan
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I was pondering the idea of how to create a vacuum instead of inert gas to help extend the life of the bulb and it occurred to me that if you built the entire thing and sealed it, but included a one-way valve in the base, you could easily create the vacuum. I got the idea while watching the video below. Bonus, you can make the pump and the valves yourself!

 
paul wheaton
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I will be picking the winner in a couple of hours. Any last entries?
 
paul wheaton
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I hope folks don't mind. I went through and and edited a few posts to add in images.
 
paul wheaton
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I was hoping that somebody would try and build one. Wait, no ..... I was hoping that a lot of people would build them and we could then pick the best one!

I like Jody's post with the links, but I had to add the pictures. If the pictures were added, that post might have been the winner.

Lots of good information!

I like Anthony's video about the filaments.

I very much like Philip's link to the validation about the repairable light bulb.

So .... I think the best post is .... Adrien's post. Mostly because that picture is the exact sort of thing i was fishing for. Although I would have liked to have seen a mason jar. Good pic. Really good article.

I'm surprised nobody posted this one:



from lifehacker

Or this



from instructables


I was kinda hoping that there would be serious progress toward a business being formed around the idea of the repairable light bulb. Something where a light bulb can last 500,000 hours - you just need to replace the filaments. I wonder if it is possible to have something, somewhere that is sorta like kickstarter, but where people pledge money for if a thing ever exists. And then if somebody actually makes that thing, then they get to collect the money. And maybe it can be more than money - maybe people can offer stuff that might help with the project. It's like the kickstarter could sit there and run for years and years and then when somebody creates the prototypes and wants to go into production to provide the products, then the cash out.

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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paul wheaton wrote:
So .... I think the best post is .... Adrien's post.


Congratulations Adrien!!
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Cool! I am usually excluded from the contest here because I organize them, but not this time

When I posted the articles I thought that Canada was not affected by the ban, but apparently as of Jan 1st 75 and 100W are banned here too
 
Ryan Workman
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Congrats Adrien!

I really wanted to try to build a bulb, but simply didn't have any time this month. I did find some possible sources for filament wire, some experimentation/investigation would be needed to figure out which wire will work for this purpose. SIS Tungsten Wire
 
Len Ovens
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paul wheaton wrote:
I'm surprised nobody posted this one:
oops I deweeted it to save space


Or this



from instructables


I kind of like the last comment on this one:

Yes the bottle did get hot like a standard bulb. No problems just don't kiss it...


More serious commets: Getting tungsten or even something close seems to be a stumbling block. It seems to rely on the same industry where normal bulbs come from. Not only do we need the filament, but it needs to be much cheaper than the replacement bulb. If there are no bulbs any more, there is no need to manufacture tungsten in this form. It does not make sense to buy a light bulb to obtain a replacement filament... why not just use the light bulb as is? Light bulbs are not going to go away I think, because there are some places no other lighting solution (I know of) will work. For example inside an oven or other hot area.

Vacuum does not work. 24 hours is not a long life time.
 
Len Ovens
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This one (from Here) looks better:




The author does not say how long the filament lasts in this version. I am guessing it has not been run long enough to find out yet.

the obvious thing to me is that making a resealable jar work has not been tried. This version is sealed using stuff (gick?) that makes repairing difficult at best. The epoxy must be melted probably chemically. Assuming the bulb lasts some reasonable time, the $3 worth of epoxy left to use the next time will have gone bad and need to be replaced. The solvent will be quite volatile and my evaporate from one use to the next. So both of these items and costs must be considered. The whole vacuum and gas setup is not cheap either.

The mason jar idea would hopefully fix the glue unglue problem... how many times can a mason jar lid be expected to reseal? Can the components connected to/through it stand being placed in hot water so the seal can be softened (is that needed?)?

Can we make ordinary lamps last so much longer as to make this a non-issue?

How about something like this:
LongLastBulb.jpg
[Thumbnail for LongLastBulb.jpg]
 
Nicholas Vermeulen
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paul wheaton wrote:I remember Ernie telling me about how the navy had a light bulb system where the light bulbs were all a thick glass.   If a light bulb ever stopped working, there was a light bulb repair kit.   You would open up the light bulb, replace the filament, put the light bulb back together, suck out all the air and then put the light bulb back into service.   The only consumable was the teeny tiny filament. 

I would very much like to see any pictures or links or references to that or things like that. 
                                                                                          Hey Paul I found this post and figured I'd give it a update I came across a guide that in my opinion would be rather easy to do and replace any filament. I would imagine it could be hooked up to use a CO2 cartridge to fix a homemade bulb. I would suggest a better filament
as well. www.instructables.com/id/Homemade-Lightbulb/?ALLSTEPS
F3TMJH4HXDPDTSP.MEDIUM.jpg
[Thumbnail for F3TMJH4HXDPDTSP.MEDIUM.jpg]
 
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