Picture of Cosmic Light With LEDs Embedded in Resin
I wanted to make a light out of resin that used LEDs but no soldering (I know a lot of people don't solder, and there are probably a few like me that can do it but don't really like to do it.) It's powered by a couple of coin batteries so it's easy to work on without any risk of shock. And the finished product is a glossy, atmospheric light with a soft glow.

All of the materials for this project can probably be found between a craft store, a home improvement store and a Radio Shack, but you can round a lot of it up for cheaper online. I got most of my supplies on ebay.

Personally, I made this because:

My bedroom has a light switch by the door.
My bed is not very close to that switch.
I have a lot of sharp metal sculptures in my bedroom, as well as a bed with unforgiving wooden corners.
I wanted something more special than an ordinary night light that could be used for the time between turning off the wall switch and making it safely into bed.
And it looks great between my Martian lunch box and little plastic dudes landing on the moon.....

*Apologies in advance for what appears to be incompetent photography - resin is very shiny and my camera lacks appreciation for reflective materials. It's also not that hot in the dark.
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Your instructable is just what I've been trying to work out for myself - thanks for the solution! I use a lot of inkjet printer OHP acetates for effects - I wonder if you can just pin the LEDS in place using a very lightly printed diagram of your constellation and set the whole thing onto a thin layer of clear resin which comes halfway up the LEDs - not far enough to touch the acetate but enough to set the LEDS in place - then pull off the acetate when set. I imagine if you tried to set the acetate itself in the resin you would get bubbles, but they might not be a problem in this project?
Alpha_geek2 years ago
Just a thought ... how about using some cardboard to hold the led's in place? I'm thinking that the process would go something like: First catch your piece of card and mark 'front' on one side. Next, lay your constellation template on the front side and poke the led wires through both the template and the card (this should hold the led's in place). Once that's done you'll need to cut holes in the card so that you can get the resin in place and finally figure out a way of supporting the template in place, above the resin, remembering that the 'front' side faces towards the 'front' of the finished piece, but that shouldn't be rocket science ... geddit, constellation/rocket science ... ;-)
nicolasjara5 years ago
Es bueno!!!!
hai! Awesome project! How did you get what appear to be holes in the "cosmos"? From reading, it sounds like you used toothpicks and then let the resin hardent, but how would you get the toothpicks out to leave just the hole. I'm really interested in recreating this! It's really cool!
Hi, very nice. I,d like to show my likely experiences if you want to.
dummy19776 years ago
This is very beautiful, thank you for sharing your efforts.. I'd love to try my own variation of this. Right now I'm too hungry to think about being creative as I just got done reading through your 7-layer sammich recipe. (The video was a nice touch... I would've been otherwise too afraid to try my own dough) Keep it up! You have some very creative and unique Instructables, and I'd look forward to seeing more in the future.
technoplastique (author)  dummy19776 years ago
Thanks so much!
i love this so so so much. uhm... i'm thinking of using this an idea and making a sign for my classroom. "O' Keefe Orphanage" don't ask... haha. but yeah, could I do this with 10 mm LEDs? they only have one prong... and i don't know ANYTHING about LEDs. so yeah. will there be much a difference? in voltage and stuff? okay. i don't know what i'm talking about so yeah, please enlighten me.
10mm LEDs would work, but you would end up with a much thicker block of resin to hold them. These are probably about 4mm thick with their leads folded over. Other than that it would be fine - to figure out your voltage/resistor needs I recommend the LED resistor calculator (google it). Good luck!
zjharva6 years ago
Your project was in the most recent make magazine!
I saw that too
Awesome instructable. I hope to complete a resin casting project similar to this in the near future and this guide will really help me. 5/5 stars and favorited.
jimthree7 years ago
great work. I know you didn't want to get the soldering iron out for this one, but this project is begging for a bit of microcontroler action to make the LEDs shimmer and fade a little bit. It's given me lots of ideas.
That's a really good idea. Although, technically, the shimmer and twinkling of stars that we see is a result of the sun light becoming distorted as it goes through our atmosphere. In space, star light is much more constant than on Earth, so without the shimmering it's actually more realistic, one could argue.
i was thinking about this sort of thing for lighting inside a bike frame, but never considered mixing items in with the lights for more dimensionality. looks cool, i might use this tech down the road. resin? so THAT'S the material to look for, that i did not know. i was thinking polyurethane or acrylic. i bet the effect would look cool with glitter to difuse the light as well as reflect it too.
mada7 years ago
very cool! Added to my favorites - have to try this when other projects are out of the way. Really quite impressive, good work, thank you for sharing.
technoplastique (author)  mada7 years ago
Thanks so much! Now that it's the holidays and I have more time I'll be sharing a lot more projects, too!
nimitz7 years ago
Wonderful idea and I'm itching to try something similar at home!

Something I thought of while reading this is that you could do something similar for outside patio "stones" or accent bricks using smaller pieces of plastic embedded in the LED layer and painted with this stuff:

Which glows for 12 hours after being charged up by UV light/sunlight. Perhaps paint the outside and bottom of small clear plastic rods so that the sunlight is transmitted through the plastic to the paint and back out again when it glows. Use the rods in place of the LEDs.

I also thought about using a layer of the resin mixed with the Europium powder but I'm not sure how well it'll work in that condition.

(Also there are other colors besides blue and green but you have to Google for those as they are sold other places.)
technoplastique (author)  nimitz7 years ago
In Epcot they have a group of cement sidewalk sections with patterned fiberoptics embedded in them that sort of mimic fireworks. The patio stone idea reminded me of that. I think that could be completely beautiful, and super functional if you put them somewhere that people frequently walk in the dark. I've been thinking I should pick up some kind of glow in the dark powder, and that one looks pretty powerful. Thanks for the link! (I have a bunch of colors of dyes for resin, but the blue and green colors seemed like the best choice for this. Definitely use whatever colors look good to you!)
United Nuclear only has a few colors but this place, while a bit more expensive it looks, has several different choices:

I'm seriously considering painting some glowing "circuit traces" on my motorcycle when I re-paint her this winter.
technoplastique (author)  nimitz7 years ago
They have some spectacular colors. This glowing thing has really gotten into my head - if I remember clearly I actually had a dream about a glowing project last night. I can't wait to get going on using some... Thanks for the link!
akpfeiffer7 years ago
Very cool idea! I have started collecting materials so I can give it a go. But i dont understand the resistor. How did you come up with 56??? do the 2 batteries count as 6V or 3V??? i think you can put a link of your inputs on that calculator website, that might help me make sense of it... thanks
technoplastique (author)  akpfeiffer7 years ago
(Sorry I missed this comment before!) I'm assuming the 2 batteries count as 6V because 3V wouldn't be enough to power the LEDs that I used. I also assume this because I have an old camera that uses obsolete batteries, but I can make it work with two small, half power batteries. I used the following entries (in the parallel calculator) 6V source voltage 3.8 forward voltage 40ma diode forward current 10 in array That gave me the resistor number I used. Those are the numbers that the LED supplier I used gave me, so I can only assume that they're right. The light still works (first set of batteries) so I must have at least done a decent job ;-). I hope this helps - let me know if you have any more questions!
hay_jumper7 years ago
This project is 8 shades of awesome. REALLY nice work. (HJ stands up, slowly begins applauding)
technoplastique (author)  hay_jumper7 years ago
Aww, thanks!
Zujus7 years ago
rocketbat7 years ago
ooooo! Fantastic! thanks for this! now just to choose the constelation.... hmmm... orion, cassiopia, pegasus, andreomeda, a rotating ursa major and ursa minor, leo, bootes, hercules, cygnus, aquila, taurus (incliding pliades)AARRRRRRRRRRRG! cant decide! i must do them all and put them on my roof!
When I first looked at the picture taken in the dark it was barely interesting. But the picture taken in visible light w/ and w/o the LED's on are BEAUTIFUL! Absolutely gorgeous!!!
rocketbat, if you are good with a microcontroller you could have them all in the same case. I'm only a beginner at this stuff but, I think someone could modify Adafruit's miniPOV3 to do it for you. Have it auto change constellation every minute or so. And maybe even program a switch to move from one to the other instead of having to plug it into the computer to switch constellations. Maybe someone reading this can write an instructable or adafruit can do it for us.
thats a fantastic idea! il do that :~D
manatwo347 years ago
One question - how important is adding the walls? I only ask because I'm planning on doing this but some of the resin molds I'm thinking about trying have odd shapes (seahorse for instance). Thanks for the sweet project!
technoplastique (author)  manatwo347 years ago
I'm glad you like it! The walls are there primarily to conceal the batteries/switch/etc, so really aren't necessary. If you're planning to use small molds you should look at honus' Green Lantern Ring for a lower profile way to add a battery (although it doesn't use a switch). Good luck!
leef_me7 years ago
Suggest you emphasize that you are working from front to back, at least I missed it the first time. Do you need mold release? It wasn't in the materials list. Emphasize this should be done away from 'meddlers' such as pets. I mix epoxy on a stiff piece of cardboard or cardstock using a disposable craft stick. Epoxy takes time to harden so I leave the mixed but unused portion on the cardboard with the stick in it. I can test the hardness based on the unused portion.
technoplastique (author)  leef_me7 years ago
I missed this one - I didn't use a mold release because this piece was pretty big (resins shrink as they harden and that's enough to release them from most molds) and this mold is made of polyethylene. Greasy/waxy feeling plastics don't require mold release, but a silicone or similar mold would be better off with a release.
Molding polyester resin in a silicone mold doesn't require a mold release. Silicone molds rarely ever require a mold release- unless you're trying to mold silicone in your silicone mold! :P This is a great project- it would make really cool little night lights for my kids. My wife got me a telescope for my birthday last year so I can imagine looking at the stars through it with my boys and then letting them help re create their own cosmic lights that look like what they saw in the sky!
technoplastique (author)  Honus7 years ago
No, silicone doesn't need a mold release, but especially with the polyester resin the surface tends to turn out a lot nicer if you use one anyway. And it helps extend the life of the mold. Warming up the mold before you cast in it (to between 100 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit) will also help the surface turn out nicer. It would be such a neat project to work on this with your kids! A telescope is on my list of 'someday I'd like to own one' toys (since it would be just for fun) so enjoy having it around!
The telescope she got me is just a little one but it's still really cool. I saw a book in the librabry the other day on how to make your own Dobsonian telescope- that would make a great instructable!
technoplastique (author)  Honus7 years ago
Heck yes it would! I don't have much experience in optics, but what a way to learn. I might look into that after I get my next 6 or 8 projects done.... ;-)
That's exactly how I am- two projects finished........ten more to go! I'd suggest doing a collaberation but I know I wouldn't get around to it until next year. :P

Here's some telescope info for ya' :
technoplastique (author)  leef_me7 years ago
I added a safety paragraph (I had managed to lose track of it in all of my arranging/rearranging steps) and emphasized the front to back thing. Thanks for the suggestion!
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