Not Martha

I failed to capture the sun in a jar

Yesterday I attempted to make a DIY sun jar using these teriffic instructions by Cre8tor at Instructables. Go read those and come back here. Ok? So, I went out and found some reasonably priced solar garden lights and when I opened the box I was pleased to find they were unassembled, which allowed me to get to the wire bits more easily.


The parts came unassembled.


All I have to do is unscrew the bottom panel.


I took a few small screws out of the back and found, oh horror, things were glued into place.


Oh no!

The wires connecting to the rechargable batteries would break if I attempted to extract them. So, this is where I give up for now. If you by any chance are thinking of making these, be sure to keep your receipts just in case.

However, I love the solar garden lights and might keep these to use for their intended purpose. In case you’re unfamiliar with these they are a little solar panel hooked up to a rechargeable battery attached to an LED light and a light sensing diode. During the day the solar panel recharges the battery, once it gets dark the diode tells the LED to turn on, and you get a little light source you don’t have to fuss over. Neat huh?

· comments [13] · 12-6-2006 · categories:the home · things I think are neat ·

13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 ReadyMade Blog » Blog Archive » capturing sunlight // Dec 6, 2006 at 8:43 am

    [...] I bought some garden lights to make a sun jar of my own and ran into some trouble – the components were glued into place. Go see my notes on a failed homemade sun jar to see pictures. [...]

  • 2 Evil Overlord // Dec 6, 2006 at 10:05 am

    It looks like things are just hot-glued on. Use a soldering iron carefully whilst gently pulling the wire you want to unglue and it should come free easily. If you accidentally burn the shielding of the wire, simply patch it up with a bit of electrical tape once it’s free. It’s not as if you’ll notice once it’s inside a frosted jar.

  • 3 fbz // Dec 6, 2006 at 2:01 pm

    you can cut the wires, strip them with wire strippers or a knife, add a bit of solder to the bare wires then solder it back together. need help? drop me a line. cheers,
    fbz (hackaday/engadget how-to writer girl)

  • 4 julee // Dec 7, 2006 at 7:19 am

    i went to the hardware store (in nebraska) last night and found some “malibu” solar lights … 2/$20, cheap and plastic. The components were screwed together, one battery, and i couldn’t figure out how to get the battery out of the battery holder…They have amber LED’s and make quite a nice sun jar!

    almost all of the other lights were metal, and the components looked pretty inaccessible.

  • 5 megan // Dec 7, 2006 at 9:56 am

    Julee – thanks, I think I found the same brand here at a Fred Meyer, I’m testing them out but do you find them too sensitive? I’m wondering if the panel attached inside the jar will try to leave the light on all the time.

    And thank you two above for the encouragement, I might try it after all, we have a soldering iron in the house (only used to fix the pickup on electric guitars so far).

  • 6 julee // Dec 7, 2006 at 2:16 pm

    hey megan, my led lights only went on when i covered the solar panel with my hand completely while in the jar. …of course i was probably always standing in the middle of a semi-lit room when i did this.

    come to think of it, in a darker room, they went on dimly if they were only getting indirect light…but i thought the effect was sort of cool.

  • 7 megan // Dec 7, 2006 at 11:33 pm

    My Malibu brand light appears to have died altogether. Poor thing.

  • 8 julee // Dec 8, 2006 at 7:54 am

    yep. one of my malibus died too. i was thinking about calling the number for a replacement. (the box says don’t take it back to the store if it doesn’t work). …but i don’t know if it worth the time.

  • 9 megan // Dec 8, 2006 at 9:08 am

    julee – thanks for getting back to me. I suspect either I’m not getting enough sunlight through my window (the days have been cloudy) or these lights just plain break.

  • 10 Jes // Dec 11, 2006 at 8:16 am

    Hi Megan —

    Are the *first* set of lights in your photos (the ones that are stuck together), *Malibu Lights*, or another brand? It sounds like you went and bought malibu lights AFTER buying the first set, or am I wrong?

    Err..what I’m trying to figure out is the brand name of that set of light you have in the photos. :)

  • 11 megan // Dec 11, 2006 at 9:18 am

    Jes – I’m actually trying out a few to find the best (or if any of them actually work). Here’s what I have so far:

    - Westinghouse brand bought a Sears, glued. 4 lights, around $20.
    - Hampton Bay brand bought at Home Depot, glued. 4 lights, around $20.
    - Malibu brand, bought at Fred Meyer, two batteries, able to disassemble with four screws. 6 lights, around $60.
    - Malibu brand, single light per box, bought at Lowes, one battery, able to disassemble with two screws ($9).

    However, a second single Malibu light bought at Lowes I was not able to get the back off of ($8). If I had been able to pop the plastic back off, I’m not sure if the wire bits would have been glued.

    I’m currently testing the $9 Malibu light with single battery in my window for a few days. I’m going to assemble this information more formally IF I can get it all to work consistently.

  • 12 Jes // Dec 12, 2006 at 9:19 am

    Megan, I can’t thank you enough! I want to make one of these for me, as well as my young niece. My fear was that with everything else I’ve got going on, I would find myself buy and continually returning, and not getting it done in time for Xmas. Your reply should help me out a bit in figuring out what to look for or ignore.

    You know..most people wouldn’t think to give someone the *store* info. I’m very much that way myself..making sure to add a detail that really matters. Neat. :0)

  • 13 julee // Dec 14, 2006 at 12:41 pm

    both of my single malibus have no lasting power.

    i found “floating pool lights” by hampton bay at home depot, 2/$18, 2 batteries each. there were 2 screws and there was a tiny bit of glue in the corner to keep the solar panel in place, but i cut it out, and the components worked.

    they are so far the brightest LED’s, BUT they cycle through 6 different colors. nice for xmas.

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