Introduction: LED Harry Potter Wand
This is my first Instructable so PLEASE tell me how it was in the comments. I would love to hear your thoughts! Also, I am totally open to suggestions, mild criticisms, and improvements, but keep the comments nice and the ranting to a minimum ;) With that being said let's begin!
"Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure" - Albus Dumbledore
Step 1: Materials
1: Gikfun Metal Ball Tilt Shaking Position Switches
A pack of 10 was the smallest available and cost about $6 via Amazon Prime
2: Microtivity IL053 5mm Diffused White LED
They came in a pack of 25 for about $5 via Amazon Prime. You might wonder what to do with the other 9 switches and the other 24 LED’s and I can’t help you with that. But it very nice to use this particular LED because you don’t need a resistor for it if you use two AAA batteries, and the color is a spot-on perfect match with the wands in the Harry Potter movies and the defuse/opaque glow of the tip is ideal as well. I tried transparent LED’s and they just don’t look as good.
3: 2 AAA batteries
You might not be surprised to note that they are Amazon Basic AAA batteries - there’s a theme here. If you are thinking about using AAA NiMH or NiCd rechargeable batteries, this might be a responsible environmental thing to do but, firstly, I tried it and the wand is pretty dim due to the lower voltage of nickel-based rechargeables, and secondly, the instructions below call for soldering the wires directly to the batteries which makes recharging them tricky. According to my back-of-the-envelope calculations and my measurements of the LED voltage and current, the batteries should last for about 6 hours of continuous use.
4: A soldering iron
I know our local library has one so yours might.
You'll also need a 3D printer of sorts ( once again, check with your local library), and filament if the printer is yours.
Step 2: 3D Printing the Wand
You can find the designs on Thingiverse, and to do that click the link: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2591992, or you can download the STL files below. Also remember that you will need to print 2 top halves. I printed mine in black PLA on a Printrbot Simple Metal on 0.2mm height and I didn’t use any support. The handle was printed vertically and the wand pieces flat with the inside down on the bed. I wouldn’t recommend using support if you can avoid it. Total print time for everything was less than 2 hours on my printer - but printers vary. Again, if you don’t own a 3D printer and want to make this wand, you should try your local library. They will often print it for the cost of the plastic - which in this case should be less than $5.
Step 3: Soldering the Batteries
Note, for this you will need to know how to solder and preferably to have had previous experience. First measure out the wires and solder the black wire to the negative terminal of one cell, and the red wire to the positive terminal of the other cell. I found it helpful to scratch the surface of the battery a bit with a knife and to put my soldering iron on max temperature to get the solder to stick.
Next, thread both the red and black wires through the wand handle before you put the batteries in. If your 3D printer didn’t make a clean hole, then you can widen the hole with a screwdriver or something like it .Keep the wires close together and hold the handle parallel in order to see the hole. Once the wires are coming out of the top of the handle, push the batteries into the hole. Traditionally the red one goes first, then the two ends with no solder just touch, and then finally the end with the black wire goes last, and you already threaded the black wire up the top on the little notch for the wire on the side of the battery hole. So it goes red-wire positive first, then negative on the battery touches positive on the second battery and then negative of the second battery is sticking out the end. Push the batteries all the way in. As with this whole wand construction, it’s a little finicky getting it in there, but it should all fit snugly. It’s designed to be tight so that the batteries don’t move around, and there is a little notch so make sure the wire passes through there if it seems too tight.
Step 4: More Soldering ( the LED and Tilt Switch)
Next, solder the LED and the tilt switch. The key thing with the LED is that the red wire, on the positive terminal, goes to the longer leg of the LED. You don’t need a resistor for the LED listed above if you use two AAA alkaline batteries. The black wire, on the negative terminal, goes to the shorter leg. Pick either the red wire or the black wire, cut it and solder one end with the battery at the end of it to one terminal of the tilt switch and solder the other wire to the LED. In this photo, I have everything soldered except the black wire to the shorter leg of the LED.
Step 5: Test It!
Next, test everything. If you did it correctly, the LED should light up when you lift up the tilt switch. If nothing happens make sure that the ordering of the batteries is correct, that the solder to the batteries is solidly on there, and that the LED longer leg is to the positive terminal of the battery.
If the LED doesn’t light up when you lift the tilt switch, don’t go any further and figure that out and fix it before proceeding. If necessary, take the whole thing apart, and check the connections.
Step 6: Put It All Together
Next assemble the main wand. So I wasn’t completely honest when I said “no glue” earlier. I think it’s possible to do it with no glue - my first wand was glueless with just some electrical tape at the top. But at this stage of assembly, I found it super helpful to spray down the insides of the long wand halves with “3M Super 77” spray glue. By now, you can guess where I bought mine, but Home Depot and Lowes and other hardware stores carry it too.
The problem is keeping the tilt switch in it’s spot, the wires inside the wand, the LED in it’s spot and putting the whole thing together and sliding it as a unit into the wand handle without any of the wires popping out or any of the solder joints coming loose and without the tilt switch ending up sideways. The tilt switch needs to be oriented wire-side down. The 3M spray glue makes the whole thing tacky/sticky and holds the wires and tilt switch in place. If you don’t have any 3M Super 77 lying around (and, granted, I’m sure most do not) then try epoxy in small amounts. If you don't have glue at all, it feels almost like a two person job. Just keep trying and it will work.
Step 7: You're (Almost) Done!
Put the end cap on the end and flick the wand up: it should light up all by itself, lay it down and the light should go off. Make sure to store the wand on it’s side when it’s not in use so that the batteries don’t drain because the battery swap requires taking everything apart. Good Job! By the way, the light spell is Lumos, and Nox is used to turn it off. Have fun!