How to Charge a Smartphone from a Light Bulb

Making a charger that screws into a light bulb socket can be useful abroad when one does not have the right adapter.


Upon reading the title, one would immediately react, “Why the hell would I want to charge a smartphone from a light bulb when I can just charge normally from an electrical socket?”

I had that thought too but come on. We are engineers. And it is in every engineer’s nature to be curious about stuff. We love to experiment.

More importantly, the originator of this experiment, Rulof Maker, says through his YouTube channel that making a charger that screws into a light bulb socket can be useful abroad when one does not have the right adapter. He has a point.

Source: Makery
Source: Makery

Nicolas Barrial of Makery has replicated the process and made a step by step process. Here’s how he did it below complete with instructions.

To start with this experiment, one will need a low-energy light bulb that contains a sheathed power supply welded to the base, a USB charger, an electric domino big enough to fit the prongs of the USB charger, cutting pliers, wire stripping pliers, flat screwdriver, and a gaffer tape.

Procedures:

  1. Separate the bulb from the base by inserting a pointed object as a lever. Take caution in making the neon tube intact because when it breaks, mercury will leak out.
Source: Makery
Source: Makery
  1. One you open, there will be a circuit board that supports the electronic components, connected to the base by two power wires. Pull them out as long as possible because it is what you will need.
Source: Makery
Source: Makery
  1. The two power wires are colored black and white. The black one, which is thickest at the end, is a resistor. Cut that off. Match and strip the wires about half a centimeter. If they’re long enough, you can keep the plastic around the base.
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(Note from Barrial: Rulof Maker drills a hole in each of the prongs of the USB charger to thread the wires through. But without a drill press, this is nearly impossible (we tried). We chose the other option of using an electric domino.)

Source: Makery
Source: Makery
  1. Cut out two sections of the domino, while keeping them together. On one side, insert the wires of the base and screw in. After this, plug the USB charger directly into the holes of the domino, as it fits, and screw in. Note that there should be no contact between the wires of the bulb and the prongs of the charger and that no any metal part should be exposed.
 Source: Makery
Source: Makery
  1. To secure the charger, use glue or gaffer tape, just make sure that it doesn’t touch the conductive elements.

 Source: Makery
Source: Makery

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How to Charge a Smartphone from a Light Bulb

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