Looking at the neon sign transformer, I wanted a way to control the actual output.  The easiest way was a variac, but I didnt have one.  Sure, I could buy one, but what fun is that.

After some looking around I got this one for 30 dollars.

bare variac

It was bare, but that is ok.  I looked around for a container for it, and could not find one that I liked.  I considered building one out of wood, but chose against that as well.  One option was to use a junction box from the hardware store, but those were 70 dollars. While I was looking for one that had the proper dimensions, I came across a toolbox and had an idea.  Why not just use this 😀  6 dollars and a peice of mdf and I think it might work.  The people at the hardware store cut a peice of mdf the size of the “tray” that fit inside the box.  I finished the rest of it with a small coping saw.

box with mdf   layout of parts...

After some layout issues, I chose to just put everything on the mdf instead of cutting the toolbox.   I cut the holes out by drilling the corners and again with the coping saw ripped them out.  Since I was using outlet covers, accuracy isnt such a huge issue.

holes   first dry fitting

Next was the wiring and mounting of the components.

wiring view wiring

top view closed

Then I secured the whole thing into the toolbox with a couple bolts and nuts.

The initial tests were great, I used a light to visually see the effect of changing the voltage.  To test the amp meter, I hooked it up to an electric motor.   All in all, the project works like a champ. The lamp just didn’t draw enough current to really move the needle.

Total cost of the project, 60 dollars.

Copyright © Jessie Tank

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