This instructable describes how I made a cube globe lamp. I used Christmas led lights inside a cube covered with a map pattern for this lamp. Lamps with other shapes or prints on the outside can be made using the same technique.
I didn't take photos of every step while making the lamp, so I will try my best at explaining what I did when I don't have photos of a step.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
- 8 mode 40 led Christmas light chain. Should be possible to find on ebay or stores that sell Christmas lights.
- Photo printer paper
- Transparent adhesive film
- Bubble wrap
- Transparent tape
- Craft knife
- Hot glue gun
- Craft/paper glue
- 3 mm brass tube that has been sharpened at one end to cut holes with (see step 3)
- Cutting mat
Details on the lights:
Any led light can be used, but a light chain with 40 leds make for 8 leds on each of the 5 visible sides of the cube. For a bigger cube you might want more leds. This one has 8 light modes, but regular led lights can be used too. I would not use bulb lights for this project as it will be hard to replace light bulbs at a later time, and leds are safe to use with cardboard as they don't generate any heat. If a light chain with exactly 40 leds is hard to find then it is possible to use one with more leds and just leave the additional leds in the cube. Depending on your light chain it might also be possible to remove some leds (see step 3).
Step 2: Make the Cardboard Box
1. The first step is to make a cardboard cube. As my lamp was going to have a cube shape I cut out a pattern for a cube with tabs for gluing the cube together. This was done without any templates, as the pattern is relatively simple to measure directly on the cardboard. If you want a lamp of a different geometric shape then it might help to print out a template of the shape first. I used a size of 12 cm on each side of the cube.
2. To make sure the lights are at the same place on each side of the cube (except the bottom of the cube) draw two parallel lines at 2 and 4 cm in from the edge of each square that makes the sides of the cube (see second image).
3. Make the holes for the lights. Here I first tried punching through the cardboard using a knife, but that made for a hole that was not round and the same size for each hole. It also made the edges of the holes rough. So for this step I made a custom tool for the job using a 3 mm brass tube that I sharpened at one end using a small metal file. This made it possible to cut perfectly round holes in the cardboard. I found that it helped to rotate the tube while pressing down on the cardboard to not only punch through it but also make a nice round cut. See the 3rd image for how I decided to place the led lights.
Step 3: Add the Light
In this step I add the lights to the cube. Press a led into one of the holes made in the previous step, then glue it in place with hot glue from the inside. of the cube. I would recommend holding the light in place until the glue has hardened, as it might otherwise move or lean to one side. I used a good amount of glue around each light to also add support as this is the only thing holding the lights in place inside the cardboard cube.
Remember to let the end of the wire (going to the power plug and button unit) come out through one of the bottom corners of the cube. When all of the lights are glued in place the cube can be folded and glued or taped together. This is a good time to test that the lamp works before the cardboard cube will be wrapped in the next step.
If you found a led light chain with too many lights it might be possible to remove some of the leds or they can be left unglued inside the cube. On the light chain I used the leds were connected to the button unit with several wires, and I could cut a few of them to remove some of the unnecessary leds. In the last image on this step I have removed half of the leds on a 100 led light chain, and left the remaining loose in the cube.
Step 4: Making the Outer Layer of the Lamp
1. To make a globe cube lamp like this one I printed out the "blue marble" satellite image paper model cube from this site. On this site there are also patterns with world maps on other geometric shapes.
The paper models on the site are meant to be printed out on one sheet of paper, so to get the right size for my lamp I used the scale print function in adobe pdf reader (sometimes called "tile large pages"). My best advice here is to try to print at low quality in different sizes until you get the size you want. I don't remember how much I scaled my print but I would start with 250% scaling and then adjust up and down until the scale is right.
For my lamp I scaled the print to have each side of the cube at 13 cm or1 cm wider on each side than the cardboard cube inside.
2. Cut out and assemble the paper model. Leave some paper when cutting it out to glue the sheets of paper together into the cube pattern. Let the glue dry and lay it down flat on a surface you can cut on. Cover the whole cube pattern in transparent adhesive film to make it laminated. This will make the lamp more resistant against damage.
3. Cut out the pattern with the adhesive film on. To make the glue stick better I removed the adhesive film on the glue tabs of the paper. Glue the cube together, leaving the bottom open (where the cable comes out on the cardboard cube that will be inside.
4. To get a good fit of the outer layer on the cardboard cube and also to diffuse the lights I wrapped the inner cube in 2-3 layers of bubble wrap. I attached the bubble wrap with small pieces of clear tape with the bubbles toward the inside so the outside is smooth. I unfortunately don't have photos of this.
5. Slide the bubble-wrap-covered cube inside the outer layer. It should be a tight fit so that the sides of the cube bulge out a bit on the sides. Otherwise I think the cube might get dents more easily. Glue or tape the bottom of the outer layer in place with the cable coming out in one corner.
Step 5: Alternative - Using a Plastic Box
One alternative for this lamp is to use a transparent plastic box and put the cardboard cube inside it. Here I used a battery-powered led light chain, and then I have to open it to turn it on or off. The benefit of using a plastic box like this is that any photos, paper prints or drawings can be slid inside the cube on each side.
To do this simply do the first steps, making sure the cardboard cube has the same outer size as the inside of the box. Then slide the cube inside the box.
Step 6: Enjoy Your Lamp
At this point, you should have a nice lamp. The lamp I made have 8 light patterns pre-programmed into the light chain, but it would be possible to connect led lights to a microcontroller like an arduino and program the patterns yourself or have it light up based on input from sensors. But that will be up to you. Feel free to use the techniques shown in this instructable to make your own lamp, I would be happy to see your lamp if you make one.
I will be happy to help and try to answer any questions in the comments. Any feedback (positive or negative) is also appreciated, as that can help me make better instructables in the future.