plasma globe mod

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While shopping this weekend at my local Target store (a national discount chain store for those of you outside the US) I noticed they were selling Halloween decorations for half off. And amid the plastic pumpkins and reflective child safety vests and cheap costumes I found a shelf full of lighting effects. Most were pretty typical blacklights or just oddly-shaped bulbs, or otherwise pretty pedestrian items. But one item jumped out at me–a small plasma globe.

It had a plastic witch attached to it, or there were some with a skull instead. But in a fraction of a second, I had formulated a plan. I decided it was worth ten bucks to see if this idea was really too crazy to work. The item came with an instruction sheet that warned against using it in the vicinity of any microchips. Hmmm, intriguing. I’ve never been one to put much stock in warnings after all.

time to mod this witch

here’s a dark shot of the unmodded item, just in case you haven’t seen this effect

I already had a 3-inch hole in my bezel from installing my clear fan duct a while ago. So part of what made this attractive was that I knew I already had a hole in place sized just about perfectly for this stunt.

Once I got it home, I was very pleased to see that the power was provided by a wall wart (that’s an inline transformer) rated 500 mA at 12VDC. So powering this from inside the PC was going to be a slam dunk. I’ve seen some of these that have sound-sensitive settings, this one didn’t. No problem, I wanted it to run all the time anyhow.

Alright, so it was down to the serious business of disassembling this thing to see what was inside. I was hoping to find a nice little inverter board inside the housing, something I could repackage nicely. Luckily the unit disassembled quite nicely. The inverter was a 2x3 inch board attached only to a switch and a barrel connector for the power adapter. The globe was hot glued into the base of the sculpture, and a single wire ran from a transformer on the inverter board up into the center electrode of the plasma globe. A small wad of metal inside the tip of the electrode made contact with the wire, and a plastic sleeve in the glass tube concealed the wire for a nicer look.

the globe is glued securely in place

here’s our board with simple connections

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