Introduction: Easy LED Doll's House Lighting

Picture of Easy LED Doll's House Lighting

My Dad built this amazing doll's house for my daughter, inspired by plans but following his own design. The only condition was that I would have to do all the electrics once it was built!

I wanted to have safe lighting, with independent switches for each room, and decided on LEDs.

Step 1: Fitting the Cabling

Picture of Fitting the Cabling

Dad had floored each room (and created tiny roof tiles) with sample floor tiles from DIY shops, but had the forethought to cut a groove in each room's floor to hold the lighting cable, including a hole in the centre of the room to the ceiling below and round the back of the house.

The grooves were then covered up with the tiles and the interior finished off, but again thinking ahead Dad put a piece of string in each groove with the ends sticking out the holes, to help guide the cables through.

The trouble started on our way back home, as the rear of the house was next to my son's seat in the overcrowded car - to be honest if I was a bored 4 year old and saw bits of string sticking out I'd pull them too just to see what happened.

With the guide strings missing in action I had to poke the LED cables into the holes at the back, then hook them through the ceiling hole. This was tricky, in the end I used a tiny hook from a vintage lighter service kit to pull the cable through, something like a crochet hook.

Each LED had its own two-strand cable, and over 10 metres was used! With the cables in place (and children warned not to pull them out) the LEDs were added. These were soldered to the ceiling wires, with their bare legs covered in white heat shrink, using a wider section of cable insulation to secure them in the ceiling hole.

Step 2: Switch Madness

Picture of Switch Madness

Having a switch for each room seemed like a great idea but came with an awful lot of cabling!

I used a project box to hold the switches (in the same layout of the rooms in an M shape) and thankfully it was deep enough to hold the nest of wires. A DC socket was added to the box to allow flexibility for the power source and after fitting it to the side of the house the remaining loose cables were tamed with some conduit.

In retrospect I would have used bigger switches as these were fiddly to solder, but after accidentally melting a few they were all in place and working well.

Step 3: Furnishing

Picture of Furnishing

The LEDs proved to be the perfect light source for this project, I chose the "superbright" ones and they look just like tiny bulbs, powered by a 3x AA battery enclosure connected to the DC socket of the switch box.

With some furniture (and characters) added the brightly lit rooms really came alive, showing off the detail in the decor that was missed in natural light.

Next steps are to build some shades for those bare bulbs - keeping my eyes open for ping-pong balls, bits of torches, whatever works!

Comments

Izzypup (author)2016-05-29

LOVE your house! I'm planning to make a dollhouse for my grand daughter but on a larger scale - American Girl size. I'm planning on using LEDs too, but will bundle several together.
I have one.question about your house. Where are the switches? I enlarged the pictures but still.couldn't find them.

MisterM made it! (author)Izzypup2016-05-30

Thanks! Sounds like a great project and probably much less fiddly on a larger scale! The switch box is on the side at the back, with conduit to run the cables out of view. If I was doing it again now I'd be tempted to use adafruit neopixels or something to give it the colour-changing "programmable smart home" effect!

Izzypup (author)MisterM2016-05-31

I misunderstood your instructions. I thought you meant that the dolls could turn the lights on and off in each room independently - lights are on in living room, Barbe turns those off before entering and turning on the lights in the kitchen. I'd like to make the house as realistic as possible.

I'm at the 'gathering ideas' stage of my project. I've thought of uses for the 'tap on, tap off' type, other applications where a short string of battery-operated lights will be perfect. I've also thought about LEDs but my experience is very limited - as in I've never done anything with them!

It's always good to learn something new! Thanks for the inspiration!

ben.randall.503 (author)2014-12-20

This is very cool :) I'm just getting into using an RPi or Arduino to control LEDs. Then my daughter decided to start playing with her dolls house and the ideas started flowing. This has given me some good ground to start with!

MisterM (author)ben.randall.5032014-12-21

Excellent! Since doing the doll's house I've recently jumped into rpi projects myself for the first time and spent weeks learning about gpio pins, pullups etc it's amazing what you could do! bit short notice but something like http://m.neatorama.com/2014/12/17/A-iStar-WarsChristmas/ would be awesome!

ben.randall.503 (author)2014-12-20

This is very cool :) I'm just getting into using an RPi or Arduino to control LEDs. Then my daughter decided to start playing with her dolls house and the ideas started flowing. This has given me some good ground to start with!

CandiW (author)2014-09-20

You really need a masked villain to pull the rooms together.

craftclarity (author)2014-06-05

Wow, that's amazing. Nicely done!!

Lectric Wizard (author)2014-06-03

Check out a bead shop or online. I've made some interesting miniature lamps by drilling out a big bead to insert an LED or grouping beads around a LED.

MisterM (author)Lectric Wizard2014-06-03

Beads of course, thanks! I have some modelling wire around here somewhere...

About This Instructable

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Bio: I love the design and ambition of vintage technology, and the usability and potential of new - my passion is bringing the two together.
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