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Picture of Nuclear Switch Locator
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Yes, I know... the title is kind of an exaggeration but not quite :) This instructable aim to solve a problem that troubled humans since the invention of the electric light: how do you find a light switch in the dark? "Just buy an illuminated light switch!" you will say... but where's the fun in that?

I came up with a solution that requires a 3D printer, a little bit of blue tack and a couple of... radioactive gas filled vials.

These sealed glass vials are internally coated with a phosphor material and filled with tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that emits beta particles (electrons). Tritium emits electrons through beta decay and, when they interact with a phosphor material, light is emitted through the process of phosphorescence: they will glow continuously for about 20 years!

The overall process of using a radioactive material to excite a phosphor and ultimately generate light is called radioluminescence.

Step 1: Let's Do It!

Picture of Let's Do It!
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Building this device is extremely easy and will require just a few minutes:

  • download the 3D model (available as STL or STEP file should you want to modify it).
  • print the 3D model.
  • insert a tiny amount of blue tack into the slots that will host the vials in order to secure them
  • insert the vials in the slots, gently pushing them. They should not protrude from the surface.
  • put some bluetack on the back of the 3D printed part.
  • secure your nuclear switch locator on the switch plate and...

...FIAT LUX! Job done

For the next 20 years you will be able to find your light switch without staining the wall around it randomly moving your hands it in the dark... :)

lewinskys14 days ago
How dangerous are these "Radioactive" tubes? If someone breaks it are we talking a miniature Chernobyl incident? Or will I get radiation treatments for my cancer every time I go home? :P
hombremagnetico (author)  lewinskys14 days ago
Don't worry, nothing so tragic... but you are likely to generate a black hole.


/s

:)
very useful!!!
hombremagnetico (author)  jason circuits20 days ago
Thanks! :)
For those buying in the USA, I found a vendor on Amazon but they offer them in 3 different lengths, so be sure to pick the right size (22.5mm).
I would second the suggestion though to come up with a 3d-printed switchplate design that incorporates the tubes, rather than sticking it on top.
Thanks for pointing it out!
AnandM5424 days ago
It seems huge risks making at home.....rather than I bought a radioactive switch to dark....
Lee7325 days ago
Fun idea - make them using one vial each though, and you get 2 switches lit.... I'm astounded from the spiel that tritium lighting is legal in Australia....
hombremagnetico (author)  Lee7325 days ago
Thanks Lee73!
Omega039725 days ago
I love the idea, I think tritium tubes are very cool and I've toyed with the idea of trying to work them into something before! I like the light switch idea, but my only question, is why not just print a whole switch plate that contains the necessary slots for the tubes? I think there are some plain light switches on thingiverse that could me modified to do this. No putty needed then. Again, very cool idea.
hombremagnetico (author)  Omega039725 days ago
Thanks Omega0397! I think it's a good suggestion... I should give it a try...
drlexluthor26 days ago
My wife, Ph.D. in Chemistry, says that she won't allows those in our home the risk is too great. She would recommend the same for anyone considering it. The tiniest defect or micro fracture from assembly or installation or damaged while hanging on the wall for any reason would expose you and your family to.... but other than that it is a very cool project, I like it! Thanks for the instructable!
That's just what your wife wants you to think. The real reason she doesn't want them in the house is because she thinks you will spend a fortune buying dozens of them.
If Tritium stored in vessels like this was that dangerous, I don't think they would be putting them in high end watches, key chains, and for any average Joe to buy on Amazon. That being said, I wouldn't want to break one, and I'm thankful that the author included some good warnings!
hombremagnetico (author)  drlexluthor26 days ago
Thanks! I also have a PhD, Chemical and Energy technologies. Even breaking the vial the risk caused by the tritium is negligible. You should be more worried of the broken glass :) Anyone is entitled to their own opinion of course...
JohnD16425 days ago
WARNING DO NOT DO THIS.. FIRST THIS IS RADIATION ... SECOND THEY LAST 15 YEARS OR MORE.. SO BE PREPAIRED TO HAVE IT AROUND 15 YEARS.. IF THE TUBES BREAK YOUR IN A WORLD OF HURT.. FIRST THE NUCLEAR REGLATORY WILL BE ALL OVER YOU YOULL HAVE TO CALL THEM FOR A CLEAN UP.. AND WHEN YOU WANT TO TOSS THEM OUT YOU CANT TOSS THEM IN A TRASH CAN YOU MUST CALL A NUCLEAR DISPOSAL CREW COSTING PROLLY 500 DOLLARS... FOLKS I DONT KNOW HOW SITES GET AWAY WITH SELLING THIS STUFF.. FIRST MOST SITES ENCASE THEM IN THICK ACRYLIC THESE LOOK LIKE JUST GLASS TUBES..

IM WARNING YOU DONT BUY THEM DONT USE THEM.. THEY MAY LOOK COOL.. BUT REALLY THE GLOW IS SO LIGHT IT WILL BE PITCH DARK FOR YOU TO SEE IT AND YOUD NEED ALOT OF THEM.. ALSO EXPORTING THEM SAY FROM CHINA TO THE USA A BIG NO NO CUSTOMS WILL LIEKLY CONFISCATE THEM..

ALSO HOW IS THIS SITE ALLOWING THIS POST TO EVEN BE UP... TAKE IT DOWN
LaurentM26 days ago
So you spent £24 + 3D printing material/time for the convenience of finding a light switch in the dark???
Lee73 LaurentM25 days ago
You realise the filament for this would cost a few cents?
hombremagnetico (author)  LaurentM26 days ago
yes I did! For the benefit of mankind as a whole! :o)

...

(ahem...)
LOL. If you wanted to be even more overkill I'd advise your very own butler to light up a torch on the light switch so you can see it :)
its a joke. nobody would be dumb enough to make this. but it is fun to see that someone made it and to see the results of his efforts. But he does not show that it works, i.e. no video. so who knows the result of the expenditure of time and effort and money?