Craft & Design
Flashback: Diminutive Balls of Fire

What do you get when you mix a glo-plug, a large binder clip, flash cotton, a momentary pushbutton switch, and a few other ingredients? One serious way to get someone’s attention! Back in lucky MAKE Volume 13, Joel Johnson showed us how to shoot fireballs from the palm of our hands with the Orpheus Shooter. As Joel writes in the intro, “You can buy one from most magic shops for around $50, but if you build one on your own, you’ll not only save a few bucks, you’ll also learn how easy it is to add fire effects to any electronics project. (And what gadget couldn’t stand a little more spurting flame?)” Word!

The super-fun Orpheus Shooter uses a minimum number of parts and can be pretty fully concealed in your hand:


The glo-plug is the only disposable part, usually bearing a rating of 50 ignitions, but Joel claims to pull at least twice that number from his. Plus, there are online sources like that sell them for about $5 a pop. Here’s the glo-plug glowing:


And here’s the Orpheus Shooter project in our Digital Edition. For plenty more trickery, pick up a copy of MAKE Volume 13 in the Maker Shed!


I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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