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Sounds from Old CFLs 

Make] Projects 

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build, hack, tweak, share, discover,- 

Sounds from Old CFLs 

Written By: Andrew Carrell 



Screwdriver (1) 



Soldering iron (1) 


i • 

Resistor (1) 

i • 

Potentiometer (1) 

i • 

Pert board (1) 


Hook-up wire (1) 


Audio jacks (1) 

; • 

Step switch (1) 



any small stroma box 


Velcro tape (1) 


When compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) burn out, don't throw them out! Here's a project to 
remove the electronics from CFLs and reuse them to make fun guitar effects. 

© Make Projects 

Page 1 of 5 

Sounds from Old CFLs 

Step 1 — Sounds from Old CFLs 

• Carefully pry apart the base with a 
flathead screwdriver, and you'll find 
a tiny circuit board stuffed with 
useful components. Then you can 
recycle just the bulb (be careful not 
to break it). Removing the bulb is 
the first thing they do at the 
recycler's anyway. 

Step 2 

• I've opened up a few different brands, and the contents are all pretty much the same. A 
typical inventory includes 2 transistors, four 1N4005 diodes, assorted ceramic capacitors 
and resistors, a 10|iF electrolytic capacitor, and a small coil transformer. 

• I don't bother salvaging the resistors, but I like to use the film caps, transistors, and 
diodes to make guitar effects boxes. Fuzzes, boosts, and buffers — oh my! 

© Make Projects 

Page 2 of 5 

Sounds from Old CFLs 

Step 3 

• Here are some CFL-based effects that I've concocted and had fun with. Review the 
Burnout Sound schematics along with links to other CFL component projects and DIY 
guitar effects resources. 

• Fluorescent Fuzz and Shining Sixties Fuzz - These impart a 60s or 70s rock/psychedelic 

• 13 Watt Overdrive - This adds some 70s rock "crunch" to your tone. 

• Light Ranger- This treble booster is great for making your guitar solos stand out and cut 
through the mix. 

• Bulb Booster- This makes your signal louder, pushes your amp harder, and generally 
makes everything sound better. 

© Make Projects 

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Sounds from Old CFLs 

Step 4 

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• For any of these effects, you assemble the circuits by soldering them on a small piece of 
perf board, and use leads to connect the board out to the battery snap and input/output 
jacks. The online schematic diagrams show how everything connects. 

Step 5 

• To secure the circuit board inside 
the box, I use velcro tape. 

© Make Projects 

Page 4 of 5 

Sounds from Old CFLs 

Step 6 

• By using a stereo jack for input, 
you can either activate the effect 
circuit or bypass it, depending on 
whether the 3PDT step switch 
connects to the jack's right or left 
channel contact. 

• To provide a volume control, you 
connect the potentiometer between 
the circuit's output and the output 
jack on the box, with the third 
contact going to ground. 

This project originally appeared in MAKE Magazine Volume 19 . 

Related posts on Make: Projects: 

Turning Dead CFLs into LEDs 

Ham Radio Transmitter from a CFL bulb 

This document was last generated on 201 2-1 1 -02 02:1 3:58 PM. 

© Make Projects 

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