I got the idea to make a little Charmander light and decided to make a little guide on how to build one yourself. This is a great beginners Soldering/DIY Electronics project. And please read the full tutorial before attempting this project, it will help prevent mistakes if you have full knowledge of the project beforehand.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Amazon Links will be provided for all required items.
- Soldering Iron with Solder (a Soldering Iron Stand with cleaning sponge will go a long way)
- LEDs with Resistors
- A broken USB cable or a really cheap one
- Heat Shrink Tubing
Optional but helpful:
If you have never soldered before I recommend watching a few soldering basics videos, I recommend starting with this video for this project: https://youtu.be/BxASFu19bLU
Step 2: 3D Print the Model.
Here is the Thingiverse link to the model: Charmander Light.
Once you have downloaded the model you will either need to 3d print it yourself or go to a service like 3d Hubs. If you are not familiar with 3d Hubs, basically it is a service where people average people will basically rent out their printer, 3d print models for you and ship them out for a commission/rental fee. They 3d print stuff for you, you help feed/fund their 3d printing hobby. If you are unsure about the material or Micron/Layer Height to choose try to go for Red PLA plastic, 0% infill, at 300 Microns or the closest layer height the person you are hiring has to offer.
I do not take any credit for the design of the Low-Poly Charmander, all credit for the design goes to FLOWALISTIK. I just put a hole up the Charmander's but and stuck a LED in it.
Step 3: Cable Preparation
The first thing you will want to do is cut off the Micro USB, Lighting connector, or whatever end plugs into your phone, tablet or other miscellaneous device. DO NOT, cut the USB 2.0 end (the end that would plug into your computer or wall charger) of your cable, if you cut that off you will not be able to power the LED. Once you have strip the about 1cm of the thick, outer cable insulation off the cable. If you are careful you can do this with a pair of scissors or sharp knife, but wire strippers will make this a whole lot easier.
Once the 1cm section of the outer insulation is off you should be left with four wires and possibly an outer covering of random silver wires; one red, one white, one black/gray, one green. Cut the white and green wires and try to remove the outer layer of random silver wires, all we care about is the red (aka as Positive) wire and the black (aka Ground) wire.
Step 4: LED and Resistor Prep
It is not recommended to wire the LED directly to the Positive and Ground wires of the USB cable, too much current will pass through the LED and potentially burn it out, this is why we are going to use a resistor to limit the amount of current passing though the LED. White LEDs are generally happy with 3.3v at 20-24mA MAX, the less current flowing through an LED, the lower the intensity of it's brightness will be. If you would like to fine tune the amount of current flowing through an LED here is handy website to help you calculate that. Now you should preheat your Soldering Iron and grab a LED and either a 100 ohm resistor, a 200 ohm resistor if you bought the pack of LEDs and resistors I recommended, or a suitable resistor if you did the required calculations yourself. Next you will want to wrap one lead of the resistor around the Anode (the positive and longer leg of the LED), try to minimize the length of the combined length of LED's leg and the lead of the resistor. Once you have the two ends wrapped to a favorable length solder the two connections together and cut the excess leads, but do not crop the lead that is not connected to anything off the resistor yet.
Step 5: Solder the LED to the USB Cable
Now it is almost time to bring this LED to life. Strip some of the insulation of the red/Positive wire, you can do this with wire strippers, scissors or a sharp blade if you are careful, or a quick and dirty war is to put some solder on your Soldering Iron and run the wire through the melted solder. This will melt the insulation off the wire and pre-tin it in the process. After you strip the Positive wire slide a little bit of heat shrink down the wire, but make sure not to cover the stripped end of the wire. Then wrap the exposed wire around the other lead of the resistor, again try to keep the the combined length of the lead and wire short so it can fit in the the Charmander, solder it the two together, slide the heat shrink over the all of the solder connections and heat the tubing up, you can use a lighter or hot air gun. Now strip the black/Ground wire, add some heat shrink over the wire, and solder it directly the the Cathode (ground) of the led and cover the connection with the heat shrink again. Now you can plug your usb cable into a usb port and if you soldered everything correctly it should light up.
Step 6: Put It Up His Butt
All that's left is to shove that LED up his butt, run the wires through the wire channel and plug it in. Enjoy your new Charmander light.