Introduction: Easy Mood Light

Picture of Easy Mood Light

This is an easy way to make your own $50+ value mood light with a minimum of parts/effort/Cost and electrical or electronic experience. Even soldering can be avoided!.

Total cost could be as little as $2.

Step 1: The Heart of the Mood Lamp

Picture of The Heart of the Mood Lamp

The heart of the mood lamp is the colour changing light. Bright LEd systems driven by complex microprocessor systems are detailed elsewhere in instructables but this uses a commercial easily available colour changing LED from if you are in the Uk or search fro colour changing LED or rainbow LED in Ebay or google for your country i am sure you can find them. Here they are £0.56 or so each.

The LED contains a red - Blue - Green LED and a minute microprocessor inside a standard 5mm LED package - IT IS SMALL. All you need is to apply 3 volts to the LED to make it work.

Step 2: The Cover/display

Picture of The Cover/display

The easy/cheaper option first. Find a suitable plastic vase or Glass - it should be about 200 mm tall (5 or 6 inches) at least and translucent that is you can see light through when you look through it but not see through clearly. In the UK we call this frosted.

A 2 AA cell battery holder and a matching battery clip - you can buy or steal one off a dead PP3 9 volt battery.

And of course the rainbow LED (or more than one if you like).

Step 3: Putting It Together

Picture of Putting It Together

I will assume you can solder things together or get someone to do it for you. IF not you could get this working just by twisting the wires together onto the battery clip (not as good as solder though).

The LED has a flat on the case next to the negative leg - If you find this hard to see then it is the side closest to the small black speck you can see inside the LED - This is the microprocessor chip that drives it.

Solder this to the connector so that when assembled the negative side of the battery (the bottom of one of the batteries) is connected to the negative leg of the LED, you may cut the leads shorter as I did if you want but it will work long or short.

The picture shows it assembled and clipped onto the battery holder -NOTE - Only 3 volts - Thats 2 AA cells. DO NOT use a 9 volt battery it will distroy the LED.

Step 4: Assemble

Picture of Assemble

Now if the LED lights Ok and changes colour Put Glass/Vase LED together and enjoy.

Step 5: More Complicated But Stylish Version

Picture of More Complicated But Stylish Version

Assemble 4 Rainbow LEDS on a board (I used strip board to do this) Attach a 3 volt battery pack and suitable switch.

Step 6: The Fancy Bit

Picture of The Fancy Bit

Gather a number of scraps of clear acrylic, The more the better - i cut tham all to be the same width and shaped like an inverted V for style.

Make a box out of some suitable wood/metal/plastig or find a box that fits.

Put the LEDs in the bottom and the acrylic on top of them and you have instant style mood light unlike anyother.

Step 7: This Is the Finish Article

Picture of This Is the Finish Article

The cost here was just the LEDs - the rest was scrap materials I had hanging about.


Mmjmama (author)2012-08-31


rickharris (author)Mmjmama2012-08-31


WrshpMzshn (author)2012-07-23

If I want my circuit to contain 3 LEDs should I wire them up in series and apply 9v, or in parallel and apply 3 volts? Or am I asking the question wrong?

rickharris (author)WrshpMzshn2012-07-23

Assuming your using the same type of LED as I am then you can wire them in parallel. The ic in the LED will operate from 3 volts to 12 volts without any other components.

WrshpMzshn (author)rickharris2012-07-24

Thanks, Rick.

moodlight (author)2012-03-05

Very attractive. Fantastic job done, creativity with the led at its best!

rickharris (author)moodlight2012-03-05


miamimac (author)2012-01-04

I noticed that the flat/smoth sides do not glow with color. Is there another material plastic... or would colored panels work...or very lightly translutent that would radiate the color from the smooth sides

rickharris (author)miamimac2012-01-05

If you want the smooth sides to glow then the easiest way is to rough them up with fine sand paper. Then they will reflect the inner light.


LauraClaire (author)2009-07-02

This is a very nice project, I liked it so much that I am thinking about creating one for myself. Is the only way to find an LED such as this on line? And where might I find some acrylic like that? This would be a great summer project for me, thank you for the post /r

rickharris (author)LauraClaire2009-07-02

The rainbow or colour changing LEDs you can get from the internet quite easily - even ebay sometimes. You don't say where you live so try a search. The acrylic you should be able to get in your local DIY or hardware store. Or you can try begging scraps from a local sign writer. In the UK try and B

LauraClaire (author)rickharris2009-07-04

I live in the U.S. So I can probably try Ebay. I will still try a search, though, to see what I can find. If not I am sure I can ask my dad to help me find one... Thank you once again.

rcisneros (author)LauraClaire2010-09-20

Both home depot and Lowes sell polycorbonate and acrylic window panes. They would be with normal glass window panes. Just cut them up into slices. A big piece cost $18, but the little ones cost about $4.

I just used some scraps from with windows installation. 5 RGB LED's (From eBay) and a plexiglass pencil holder.

rickharris (author)rcisneros2012-01-05

Very cool :-) Nice.

rickharris (author)LauraClaire2009-07-04

The acrylic is clear it is only coloured by te lights. The size is about 6 inches wide, 3 inches deep and max 8 inches high. But the size can be as you want and can find the acrylic to do it. Even a single small section cut to the shape of a flame and lit by a single LED looks good.

LauraClaire (author)LauraClaire2009-07-04

Oh, and before i forget, about how large would you say this light is all together? It looks pretty small....

danmcgann121 (author)2011-12-02

I was wondering what kind of a switch would work, because I am really new at all of this and am basically trying to teach myself so any help would be accepted! Thank you!

rickharris (author)danmcgann1212011-12-02

Any kind of on off switch will do - I used something like this 

Depending on your junk box :-) the design can be easily changed.

danmcgann121 (author)rickharris2011-12-02

Thank you! Are there any instructables that you know of that can teach me some of the basics? (such as wiring a switch) Thatd be very appreciated!

foobear (author)2006-09-06

how did you cut the acrylic? what tool did you use?

Sobaka-Gemini (author)foobear2011-07-08

Most Common tools will work including a table saw. Finer blades will help prevent chip-out and putting tap over the line to be cut. (A plywood blade would work best).

Win Guy (author)2011-07-08

Just so you know, that strip board can also be called "Perf Board" or sometimes Bread Board.

acornman (author)2011-06-08

Nice .... Just to clear up the confusion for some people, RGB led's are generally requiring an electronic circuit to energise the colours as do Bi-Colour and Tri-Colour Leds . The Leds' shown here are nearly always referred to as RAINBOW Leds and always have only two leads and as stated contain the electronics for the colour change INSIDE the led lens, and as stated they come in
different flash or change rates.

Dren (author)2010-11-05

I got really excited with this project. Instead of acrylic I used broken school material(like rulers).
I thought I would need to sand it but turns out when unsanded the mood light stays enven better!
For the base I used cardbord and wrapped in tin foil so the cardboard don't fall apart.

Gottwinkies (author)Dren2010-11-13

I was reading through all the comments and the cost of the acryllic and had an idea... Could you use old/AOL cd's either cut, whole or whatever as the "acrylic" ? I know they are not translucent, but if you used something in the base to space them a little bit, you could get a very nice effect I think. Plus reusing a very nasty bit of garbage most houses have aplenty...

Dren (author)Gottwinkies2010-11-14

That was my first idea dude. But cd's aren't as tall as acrylics pieces. The idea itself works buf the lamp would be short.

Gottwinkies (author)Dren2010-11-14

very true...but more affordable, lol

Kylearin (author)2006-09-10

How did you keep the different LEDs from assuming the same color change pattern? Is there extra circuitry underneath for that, or do they just happen to come on differently?

rickharris (author)Kylearin2007-01-02

Each LED runs off its inbuilt microprocessor - Rainbow LEDs are made like that. All you have to do is supply 3 to 6 volts. You don't even need to put a resistor in series as the IC regulates the current as well. The frequency of operation varies and if you leave it on the LEDs will run out of sync and produce different patterns automatically - Nothing very complicated here - but not expensive either. All the LEDs start at red and then go through the same colour change cycle but generally at a slightly different speed.

brooklynlord (author)rickharris2010-10-18

They would go back to the same color, and then randomize out again, but not in a very long time, because its the LCM of the time required for them to change...

rcisneros (author)Kylearin2010-09-20

Quality isn't good enough to keep them at the same rate on most RGBs. They will eventually randomize. I have a couple of hi end - super bright RGBs, they all basically blink at the same rate. That's good or bad depending on what you want to do.
Just know there are kind of three different types of RGB's you'll run into. Slow blink. Fast Blink, (IMO really annoying) and Slow than Fast (Still annoying.)

Also you'll probably want to find RBG's in the 5000mcd (brightness) range. Beware of 2200mcd's and such as they are pretty dim.

I was wondering the same thing...

biswasprateek (author)2009-08-02

how the led connected?? Series with the battery?

rickharris (author)biswasprateek2009-08-02

in Parallel - these rainbow LEDs have an integrated circuited in the led to control the colour change so they can be connected direct to a battery (3 to 6 volts) - They are connected all negative side together to the negative of the battery.

n33r (author)2009-07-06

Hey Awesome Idea!! I Wish I Didnt Throw All The Glass Strips I Had Can U Pls Post Video Of It PLssss!

rickharris (author)n33r2009-07-21

Here is a video of a simpler lamp using the same LED. - (sorry for the audio).

and some pictures showing the simplicity of its construction.

rickharris (author)n33r2009-07-06

Owing to a hard drive crash (back up NOW - it's important) I lost the only video of the lamp and sadly it was taken apart for another project BUT I have a smaller similiar thing I can put up - Watch this space in a day or so.

andrew93 (author)2008-02-09

you're right. but for better results, apply 4.5 V .LEDs were made to work on that voltage

justinhyp (author)andrew932009-07-18

Yes and no. Check the specs for the best voltage.

guyfrom7up (author)2007-10-12

I bought 10x 5mm and 10x 3mm on ebay for 10 dollars including shipping, just so you all know

Plasmana (author)guyfrom7up2009-05-31

What? I just got 50 RGB LED's for £9 with free shipping! I went for the cheapest ones though :-D

sharlston (author)Plasmana2009-06-14

wow thats cheap where did ya get them?

Plasmana (author)sharlston2009-06-15
marcosdjcm (author)2009-02-04

Whats the battery life on the 1 LED with 2x AA setup? Also, how quickly do the colours transition? I know it phases through colours but how long does it take to do a whole cycle?

rickharris (author)marcosdjcm2009-02-04

2 AA alkaline batteries will keep the LED alight bright enough to see for several days - 4 AA batteries (6 volts) wil be brighter and lasts longer. The colour change is visible and takes about 1.5 to 2 seconds to drift through each colour. there is some overlap so the colours seem to change quite slowly. if you use 3 or 4 LEDs the colours mix as they go out of phase with each other producing even more colours - this makes the change cycle longer. The LEDs are cheap enough to buy one and try it out.

marcosdjcm (author)rickharris2009-02-04

That sounds great for a cheap lamp Considering spending a bit more, how could i achieve a slower colour change?

rickharris (author)marcosdjcm2009-02-04

To do that you would have to programme a pic micro processor to do the colour change - there are several places on the web - and perhaps in instructables that will tell you how to do that. An alternative is to go down the mechanical route and turn a colour wheel slowly over a white light.

rerrett (author)2009-01-17

are the changes is lighting abrupt?

rickharris (author)rerrett2009-01-17

No very slow. the colors fade into each other. best results come from 3 or 4 LEDs that give a much wider range of colours. A down side is multi -LEDS will go out of phase and show different colours - In some way this is an advantage.

rerrett (author)rerrett2009-01-17


About This Instructable




Bio: Retired technology teacher - 2 kids, I have an Hons deg in Design and Technology - 28 years as Computer systems engineer Trained as Electronics engineer in ... More »
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