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Discussion Starter #1
So I went to Home Depot yesterday to pick up a couple of those $5 spotlight sockets you stake in the yard. Low and behold they have a new kind I'd never seen before, and they're only $2 each. They only had four of them, so I got all four, but will be going back for more when they get them.
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Not only do they have a screw on stake, but you can choose to leave the stake off, and mount it on a base, or the side of a prop, a tree, or a wall. The old ones don't have that option. If you look, you can see a screw hole on each side and if you look even closer, you can see that once the socket is staked into the ground, or mounted to a base, not only can you tilt it like the old ones, but it will also swivel 180 degrees, so you can aim it properly. Yes, they're made of plastic, but for $2 you can't beat it.
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So, here's how I made some really inexpensive light cans. I eat a lot of Greek yogurt because it's really high in protein and fat free, and I save the containers for just such a project.
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From the spot light socket, remove the little metal ring and rubber gasket by removing the three little screws that hold them on. Then lay the metal ring on the inside of your yogurt lid, being careful to center it as well as you can. With a sharpie, mark a dot through each one of the screw holes. Then I took a scratch awl and poked a hole through the plastic lid where each screw will go. You could use a drill, but a sharp tool like a scratch awl is quick and easy. Then install the ring onto the inside of the lid with the three screws.
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Next, take a utility or exacto knife and using the inside of the metal ring as your guide, cut out the center of the lid.
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Next, flip the lid over and install the rubber gasket/flange onto the outside of the lid, and twist the screws intil they secure the gasket, like so.
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Now install the gasket, metal ring, and lid back on to the light socket. Once this step is completed, set them aside.
NOTE: I was going to install the sockets onto the bottom of the yogurt containers, rather than on the lids, but there happens to be a round indented ring exactly where the screws need to go through, so it caused a less than desireable seal, and been far more of a pain in the butt to make them. So, to make it quick, easy, and clean, I devided to go with the lids. Plus, if you have big hands, it's easy to just pop the lids off to change the bulbs.
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Now with your utility knife, cut just the very bottom off of your yogurt container, being careful to stay as close to the bottom edge as possible, and not allow your blade to slip and slice into the sidewalls.
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Now just pop the lid containing the light socket onto the yogurt container.
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A couple of good coats of flat back spray paint to block any light from shining through, and for barely more than $2 each, you've got yourself some pretty snazzy light cans.
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Just think of all the benefits of eating all that fat free, high protein yogurt. A little stevia mixed in, and you've a pretty awesome snack, as well as some thrifty new light cans for your dispay. In total, it took me about 20 minutes to make four of these. I may go back with some silver spray paint and hit the insides of the cans, but the white reflects a good amount of light, so it doesn't seem necessary.
 

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Great idea!!!
The bulb wont melt the plastic?
This was my first thought. I've seen those containers melt and deform from hot tap water. However, the OP is using fluorescent bulbs, which generate far less heat that the spotlight bulbs you usually use in something like that. Now the containers wonton soup comes in from Chinese restaurants, on the other hand, being microwave safe for reheating as well as holding hot soup for hours, might make a better choice.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yeah, I thought the same thing about the plastic getting hot, but so far so good. Also, I've run them through the hottest setting in my dishwasher, and they haven't deformed at all. Plus, I don't use spotlight bulbs. For one, these containers would be slightly too small for them, and second, the light and colors from the little colored florescent party lights, in my opinion, is so much more vibrant, and they don't get all that hot. For many years I've used the lids from CD spindles, that the CDs come in when you buy a pack of 50 or more. Basically the same plastic, and I've never had one melt or even deform from the heat. I'd never put a real spotlight bulb in one of these. Also, I live in the Phoenix Arizona area, so we don't get a lot of rain, like most areas of the country in the Fall, but prior to two years ago, we lived in the Chicago area, where we got tons of rain. If you're worried about rain collecting in them, just drill some small holes in the bottom edge of the containers, near where the lids fit on, to allow the water to drain out. Like most of the things us Halloweenies build, you're doing it at your own risk. Our gadgets and little inventions aren't exactly laboratory tested, so use common sense.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Picked up another four of these spotlight sockets today. $2 each, you can't beat it.
 

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These are great! I've got probably a dozen of those containers on my workbench waiting for a purpose, and some of the older lights but they have the same metal ring. I've got to get some of those lights too - probably WAY less juice to run than the big floodlights, which I haven't liked anyway because they are sometimes too bright.
 

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Awesome. I have a bunch of CFL's and light stakes but wasn't thrilled with the light they threw off. I'm sure this help with the way the light casts onto props. Lighting newbie here, obviously. :) Going to try this today. Thanks for the tutorial!
 

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Those type of stakes usual go for $6 to $7 dollars at the hardware store , so 2 is a great deal. I can't find them on HD website. Were they in with the Christmas decorations? Also I like your idea. I have a small yard and regular floods are too bright.
 

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So a question: I'm having trouble getting the cans black enough. Using the green fluorescents there is significant bleed through at the lid and where there are ridges in the containers. Maybe it's because I went with the super cheap flat black paint? Did you have to do a lot of coats? I wonder if any prep would help, like maybe hitting these really lightly with some 180 grit or something.

Also the green gives off like a sickly sort of sewage color that is really interesting, but it didn't mix well with my existing green LEDs. I have individual handmade led spots (made via suggestions here somewhere) and the color difference is significant. Not bad, but they don't mix well. Just a heads up for anyone thinking about supplementing a scene and was not something I had thought about. I did end up using these cans with the green lights to add some light to the backyard for our party this weekend and they worked great.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I used the cheapest Walmart flat black they have. $0.98 a can. I did do two good coats, and on a couple of them had to do a third coat on the lid. That was about it, and I'm not getting any bleed through. If you do notice some bleed through, just hit those areas once again with the flat black, Another thing you can do is hit the insides of the cans with some silver. That will increase the reflectiveness and serve as another coat, but I didn't find it necessary.
 

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I use this same spot, but I use metal cans instead of plastic. Lots of different sizes available at your favorite food market. The tall narrow cans provide a narrower throw of light. Pick your favorite canned vegetable or fruit, enjoy the contents then onto the workshop with the can. Just be careful of the edges, that metal is sharp. I use incandescent light bulbs of various wattages depending on what I'm lighting up. Oh and inside of the can is silver too.
 
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