Invention: The Cooper Beacon

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-110615377830655.jpg’, ‘Photo provided’, ‘The Cooper Beacon is a candle-powered light that can project light into several rooms at once, using only one small tea-light candle.’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-110615380230656.jpg’, ‘Photo provided’, ”);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-110615382630829.jpg’, ‘Photo provided’, ”);

The light uses a votive candle, recycled or free parts with a cost to operate of 8 cents per hour

I named the Cooper Beacon after a friend of mine, Jim Cooper. Jim had a motorcycle accident several years ago, and had a severe brain injury. Jim has recovered, has a real zest for life, holds a position of authority in our community, and is loved by all. Whenever things get tough, I think of Jim. I’m proud to be able to honor him in this small way.

What is it?

The Cooper Beacon is a candle-powered light that can project light into several rooms at once, using only one small tea-light candle. It can be used during power outages or anytime. All of the shiny surfaces reflect most of the candle light into the lenses. I wanted to build a light that used recycled or free parts, and was cheap to operate. Cost to build was less than $15. The cost to operate is 8 cents per hour. That means you can throw light all over your house, 12 hours a night, for less than $1! Why not build several and cheat the electric company out of free lunch?


Rotating, chrome, 13-1/2 inch cake stand

Three lenses from a big screen projection TV

11-inch stainless steel bowl

Tea-light candle

Clear glass votive candleholder

Tin foil

Dremel tool

Where to get parts

Cake stand, thrift store, $5. Big screen TV lenses, big screen TV (duh), local appliance store $5. The TV was in their junk pile. The downside was I had to take the whole TV. Not a problem. Bowl, department store, $3.50. Candle, candleholder, and tin foil “liberated” from my wife. Dremel tool, borrowed from a friend.

Put it all together

Although the instructions sound complicated, they are not. Turn the stainless bowl upside down. Draw the “three arms of a peace sign” on the outside of the bowl, starting at the center of the bowl and going down to the rim. VERY IMPORTANT: Try to space them evenly as these are the sides the lenses will be on. When you are done, take a lens, centering the middle of the lens on a line, and tip the lens so the center of the lens touches the side of the bowl where the line is. Trace the outside of the lens with a marker. Repeat for the other two lenses. Then, with the Dremel tool, cut out the lens outlines and a hole in the bottom of the bowl.

Wrap the outside of the lenses with tin foil, shiny side out. Put the candle in the candleholder, light it. Put it in the middle of the cake stand. Place the bowl on the cake stand. Put the lenses in the holes. Turn the cake stand so that the light goes where you want it. Adjust each lens, forward or back, until the light is brightest on the wall it hits. You might have to tinker with the size of the lens holes, or plug spaces around the lenses with tin foil to get the best light. Enjoy!

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