Introduction: 3D Printed Wireless Lantern

Picture of 3D Printed Wireless Lantern

This battery powered wireless charging lantern will glow for 1.5 hours on a single charge. It works with a handful of electronic parts and a USB charger. The USB cable plugs into the base, and the lamp sits on the base and charges through induction, which we'll get into later.

The lamp housing, charging base, and lens are all 3D printed on a desktop FDM printer.

This project is part of a family of wireless charging products I'm working on. A swamp cooler, bluetooth speaker, and aroma diffuser are all in the works!

Step 1: Tools + Materials

Picture of Tools + Materials

Electronic Parts

Becky Stern was kind enough to give me the following parts list for the project:

1. Universal Qi Wireless Charging Transmitter ($27) This part plugs into a USB power source and emits 3.7V power through a copper coil. This part goes inside the charging base.

2. Universal Qi Wireless Receiver Module ($15) This part receives transmitted power through a copper coil. It goes inside the lamp.

3. Micro Lipo w/MicroUSB Jack - USB LiIon/LiPoly charger ($7) This part stabilizes the power coming through the wireless receiver, ensuring that it stays at a steady 3.7V.

4. Lithium Ion Battery - 3.7v 2000mAh ($12) This is a standard rechargeable battery pack that gets is power through the Micro Lipo charger.

5. 1 Watt Cool White LED - Heatsink Mounted ($4) This is a heatsink mounted LED that is pretty bright with 3.7V. It plugs into the battery.

6. DC3-250V SPST Panel Mount Self-Locking Metal Push Button Switch 16mm ($9) This is a standard latching switch that turns the LED on and off.

    Total: $74

    3D Printing

    Any desktop FDM printer will do. The lamp is a 5" X 5" (127mm X 127mm) cube, so any printer with a bed at least that size should work just fine.


    All you need for this project is a soldering iron and a small screwdriver.

    Step 2: Design

    As with pretty much every project I make, I used Fusion 360 for this one. It's powerful yet easy to learn, and it's free for life if you make less than $100k per year using it.

    Fusion 360 is free for students and hobbyists, and there's a ton of educational support on it. If you want to learn to 3D model the kind of work I do, I think this is the best choice on the market. Click the links below to sign up:



    Check out my 3D Printing Class and my Laser Cutting Class for some extensive instruction on using Fusion to make your own awesome projects.

    I played with a few different possibilities with this project. The first version was a kind of bubbly block with a lens that sort of cut diagonally through the mass. This looked good in terms of form, but I didn't see any elegant way to integrate a switch.

    After working through that version, I realized that since the charging is done wirelessly, it's not necessary to have a rectangular object– the lamp can be oriented any way as long as the receiver and transmitter are within 3mm of each other. The problem with this design is that since it's a drum, the shape really lends itself to the lens being on top, which is not great for a lamp.

    I settled on a more regular, modified cube design where the lens is basically 3 of the cube's sides. This gives me a protruding feature that highlights the switch and gives me enough light coverage on the sides that it will be useful on a table top.

    The lens is designed to press fit into the housing with a interlocking lib around its edge. There's a cradle inside the lamp that holds the LED at a 45º angle towards the lens, and the barrier between the receiver and transmitter is kept at 3mm.

    Step 3: 3D Printing

    I used my Dremel Idea Builder to print the 3D printed parts. I used clear PLA for the lens and wood fiber PLA for the housings.

    When it comes to 3D Printing, orientation is everything. The placement of a model on the build platform makes a huge difference when it comes to structure, but I learned something new with this project: the orientation of a model makes a huge difference in lighting effects through translucent objects.


    With the orientation pictured above, the top face of the lens was flat on the print bed. This saved a lot of support material, but the results were not good for a lens. The light really highlighted the interior shifts between the walls of the lens. As you can see here, the ridges are very visible around the top of the lens, and the checkerboard pattern of the top of the lens is very visible.


    This orientation placed the three corners of the lens on the printer bed. This means there's a ton of support material used, but result is that the layers of the lens are concentric around the corner of it. It almost looks like an old-timey lighthouse lens. This does a good job of hiding the variations within the lens and creates a more uniform look.

    Step 4: Assembly

      The diagram below is an overview of the whole assembly. Basically there are two housings, the base and the lamp, that hold all the components.

      Step 5: Solder LED Wires to Charger

      Picture of Solder LED Wires to Charger

      The black and red wires soldered to the points on the board to the right connect to the wireless receiver. The black terminal at the top connects to the battery. I added the black and red wires on the top to the battery terminal leads to power the LED.

      Step 6: Assemble Lamp Parts

      To assembly the lamp, I hot-glue the wireless receiver pad to the recess in the bottom of the lamp housing.

      The cradle has a space for the battery and one for the LED. The charger is glued to the side of the housing to keep it from blocking any light. The switch is wired in as a breaker between the LED and the charger.

      To assembly the lamp, I hot-glue the wireless receiver pad to the recess in the bottom of the lamp housing.

      Step 7: Assemble Charging Dock

      The charging dock assembly is super simple. All you have to do is press-fit the charging coil part into the recess in the under side, add the brace to keep it in place, then screw in the circuit board to the upper level with some machine screws. The base plate screws in at the bottom to protect everything. The charging base has cutouts for the USB terminals on the circuit board, so you can use Mini USB (as shown) or standard to power it up.

      Step 8: Finished Product

      Picture of Finished Product


      darrenah (author)2017-01-05

      This is really cool! I really like everything about it. It seems like someone could market these easily (if you could bring the cost down,) if someone isn't already selling them. Are the other items you mentioned you are working on going to use the same charging base? I hope so, because that would just fit so well into what is so likable about these.

      JON-A-TRON (author)darrenah2017-01-19

      That's the big idea! Hopefully the white noise machine will be up next month.

      darrenah (author)JON-A-TRON2017-02-01

      I'm looking forward to seeing that. Hopefully I don't swell your head, but this really is one of the coolest things I've seen on Instructables. I check out this website almost everyday and I've seen a lot of 'ables (as they say) and seeing this one again, reminds me that I really think you've done an awesome job with this; designing and building it. I'll be watching out for anything else you build.

      JON-A-TRON (author)darrenah2017-02-06

      High praise- much appreciated!

      TamiG5 (author)2016-11-15

      Great Design, looking forward to printing it. How much infill did you use?

      JON-A-TRON (author)TamiG52016-11-28

      I think everything was set to 30%, my default.

      happenpappen made it! (author)2016-10-15

      Very cool instructable. I've been very surprised by the brightness of the LED.

      JON-A-TRON (author)happenpappen2016-10-15

      that lens looks particularly good. The orientation makes big difference!

      fgarma (author)2016-08-17

      Good work!!!!
      I think that you may have any problem with the performance of the battery, that is, you have used a battery with 3.7v and 2000 mah it means that you could keep on the 1w led for 3.7x2= 7.4 hours working at 100% of efficiency, I'm sure that you could get at least about 70% efficiency it means that you could get workinf 3.7×2×0.7=5.18 hours.

      JON-A-TRON (author)fgarma2016-08-17

      Oh wow, maybe I should order another one. Do you think it's likely there could be another weak link in the chain of parts?

      fgarma (author)JON-A-TRON2016-08-17

      I'm not completely sure but in your schematic could be any strange, that is, I'll need more details in connection, it's possible that the energy of the battery took other unwanted way, if you wish I could try to help you with it.

      Telliria (author)fgarma2016-09-30

      Was there any resolution to this? Was there a better battery configuration?

      fgarma (author)Telliria2016-09-30

      I'm so sorry, but I would need the details of the schematics to help.

      Telliria (author)fgarma2016-10-03

      Thank for quick response. Ping JON-A-TRON, would it be possible to share a more precise schematic of the circuit?

      To me it would also make sense to add a LED driver between the battery and the LED to ensure correct current.

      JON-A-TRON (author)Telliria2016-10-03

      I don't have the know how to make a more detailed schematic, but the last picture in Step 6 shows you all the wiring. The LED is soldered directl to the batter terminal on the USB charger. There are other contacts on the charger that I assume are for output, but if I remember correctly they didn't power the batter when I tried.

      Telliria (author)JON-A-TRON2016-10-03

      Ping JON-A-TRON, would it be possible to share a more precise schematic of the circuit? It seems fgarma would be willing to have a look to optimize the design.

      Akin Yildiz (author)2016-09-25

      this is incredible, thank you for sharing. beautiful design..

      twofieros made it! (author)2016-09-07

      This was an easy project to make. The body I made in ABS but got a split in it 2/3 up from the bottom. I had some difficulty printing the lens but it was my fault. I'm going to reprint that part. Everything else works just fine. thanks for sharing.

      I have a feeling I'm going to reprint all of this in wood PLA and stain it. I had lots of fun building this.

      I hthis project. It's so cool!

      JON-A-TRON (author)twofieros2016-09-07

      Awesome job! I like the colors.

      wsojoe (author)2016-08-30

      I went well, had little troubles, but worked thru them just fine, This has given me a lot of new design ideas and I am going to change over to it being solar charged using a Sparkfun Sunny Buddy charge controller.

      JON-A-TRON (author)wsojoe2016-08-30

      Pictures, please!

      Jonathanrjpereira (author)2016-08-28

      Really cool. At first I though it was levitating!

      sharpe351 (author)2016-08-26

      This is a really cool idea! Thanks for posting this

      RickG5 (author)2016-08-20

      Absolutely gorgeous, planning to make my own but with some cheapo ideas.

      I'm looking at replacing the battery with an inexpensive power bank (about £2.50 on ebay) that will handle battery health and charging, and instead of the single LED lamp I'm planning to use the guts from a cheapo remote control colour-changing lamp, about £2.15 on ebay.

      Obviously there'll be some remodelling of the interior involved. I'll post the results if it doesn't end up being a huge mess that I'd rather forget.

      JON-A-TRON (author)RickG52016-08-20

      Awesome! Can't wait to see what you come up with. The cradle is a separate piece that friction-fits into the housing, so it should be pretty easy to alter it and keep the other parts the same.

      skrubol (author)2016-08-19

      No current limiting for the LED? An LED like this direct driven by a lithium ion battery won't last long, especially with the minimal heat dissipation of a little LED star stuck in a plastic box.

      I'd also think the brightness varies significantly with the charge of the battery?

      JON-A-TRON (author)skrubol2016-08-19

      It definitely does. What should I put in line from the battery to the LED?

      skrubol (author)JON-A-TRON2016-08-19

      A 2-3 ohm .5+W resistor will protect the LED, but not help with the brightness variation.
      I thought I'd be able to find an inexpensive LED driver for running from a single Li-ion cell easily, but I can't.
      I did find a basic driver chip that may work:
      There are some example circuits on the page.

      JON-A-TRON (author)skrubol2016-08-19

      Thanks for the tip! Time to crack this thing open make some improvements.

      AurélienD5 (author)2016-08-18


      Your work is very beautyfull.

      I would love to make it but i cannot print the dock base. In the "cradle.stl" file the "docking base" and the "base plate" are together so i cannot access inside the docking base.

      I tryed to change it with sketchUp Pro but when i import "cradle.stl" the model is totally broken (many holes and stranges sufaces).

      Is is possible to have the docking base in a separate file (you already gave the base plate)

      I already ordered for electronics parts, it is bad to be blocked for this little problem :(

      Thank you.

      Good hob anyway !

      JON-A-TRON (author)AurélienD52016-08-18

      I just replaced all the files in that step with newly exported ones. If you're still getting errors, I would suggest downloading Meshmixer (free) and using the repair mesh feature.

      SketchUp might be causing some problems as well. It's not a solid modeling program like Fusion is, and thus is prone to all kinds of mesh errors. Believe me, I've been there.

      Hope it works out!

      AurélienD5 (author)JON-A-TRON2016-08-18

      This time all is good for me.

      Thank's a lot. I will post pictures when i will finish it.

      JON-A-TRON (author)AurélienD52016-08-18

      Can't wait to see it!

      SiouxsinT (author)2016-08-18

      Is there anything in your circuit to turn off the LED if the battery drops below 3v?

      JON-A-TRON (author)SiouxsinT2016-08-18

      Nope. Seems like a good idea though.

      SiouxsinT (author)JON-A-TRON2016-08-18

      Easiest fix would be a protected 18650 cell, if you have room for it. I love your design, though. I've been wanting to build something similar, but shaped like a Star Wars holocron, for years.

      JON-A-TRON (author)SiouxsinT2016-08-18

      Thanks for the tip!

      Wise-Owl (author)2016-08-18

      I really like what you have put together here! A great bedside night lamp come table lamp. Beautifully crafted.

      chvdwalt (author)2016-08-18


      LucasOchoa (author)2016-08-18

      Well done, really good work.

      Multi3D (author)2016-08-18

      beautiful, very nice work!

      andre_costa74 (author)2016-08-18

      OMG! Very interesting work.

      sdrshn (author)2016-08-18

      Impressive thing!

      srah1 (author)2016-08-17


      fasaxc (author)2016-08-16

      I had a similar issue of where to put a switch when I was building an LED fireflies-in-a-jar project. I ended up putting a jiggle switch inside; shake the jar to wake up the fireflies

      JON-A-TRON (author)fasaxc2016-08-16

      Oh cool, I've never heard of that kind of switch- might need to try that out for another version.

      Raitis (author)JON-A-TRON2016-08-17

      For a switch you might also want to take a look at one of the many capacitive sensing chips available.

      Crafty Cardamom (author)2016-08-16

      Very creative :)


      Slime Eel (author)2016-08-15

      simple perfction

      About This Instructable




      Bio: I'm a full-time Designer at the Instructables Design Studio (best job ever). My background is in residential architecture, film set design, film animatronics, media ... More »
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