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We needed a fake fire for our Halloween decoration, so we decided to make our own.
This is not a new idea, we built our small fire based on this larger fire.

Step 1: Parts & Tools List

Parts List

  • USB Fan
    The fan needs to be strong enough to keep the fabric "standing". We tried a cheap PC fan that we had lying around but it was too weak to blow the fabric reliably. You may have better luck if you have a more powerful PC fan.

  • Bright LEDs
    We used two red and two yellow super bright LEDs from AdaFruit.

  • Resistors
    We used 1K resistors, you can try lower. I would not go lower than 220 ohms or you will risk damaging the LEDs.

  • USB Cable Extender

  • 5V power supply
    We used two separate power supplies: a phone charger for the USB fan and a wall adaptor for the LEDs. You may be able to use one 5V supply and a USB hub to power both.
  • Scrap wires
    To connect the LED, resistor and the power supply.
  • Thin light white fabric
    We used an old threadbare sheet. Any white thin fabric should work.

  • Scrap stick or dowel
    To hold the fabric and LEDs over the fan.

  • Foam core board
    Thick cardboard or wood scraps would work as a base also

  • Wood kindling
    To complete the illusion

  • Breadboard (optional)
    We put the resistors on a breadboard, but you can just solder it, the circuit is extremely simple.

  • Black spray paint (optional)
    We like everything except for the fabric to be black to hide it all, but the wood kindling probably already hides things quite well, so painting is optional.

Tools List

  • Box cutter to cut the foam board and wood stick
  • Hot glue gun
  • Soldering iron (optional) if you decide to solder the parts
  • Multimeter (optional) to confirm polarity of the power supply

Step 2: Construction

All we're trying to do is blow the fabric upward. The simplest thing I could think of was a flat base, two pillars and a cross piece to hold the fabric and LEDs.

First cut the fabric into the fire shape and just hold it with your hand to make sure the fan is strong enough. Experiment with different "fire" lengths and shapes. Then glue the fabric on a stick and find the ideal placement. If you place the fabric too close to the fan, it will flap around too much, place it too far and it will flop down and not "stand up".

How the LED shines on the fabric affects how it looks, so bend the LEDs forward and backward to get as much of the beam on the fabric.

Once you find the optimal position, make the pillars at that height and hot glue everything.

We made two of these "fire on a stick", to give it a layered look. However, one layer might be enough

Step 3: Wiring

Wiring is straightforward, each LED should have its own current limiting resistor. We used 1K for my LEDs, you can try lower to make it brighter but probably should not go lower than 220 ohm or you will risk damaging the LED.

Reminder:
Flat side with the shorter lead is cathode (-)
Non-flat side with the longer lead is anode (+)

If you have a multimeter, use it to test the power polarity, otherwise, just try hooking it up and if it does not light up, reverse the + and -.

We used a header and breadboard to experiment with different LEDs and resistor values. However, this is not strictly necessary as you can just solder everything together.

Step 4: Done!

Add kindling to hide the fan and we're done!

I really enjoyed the comments that everyone posted on how to improve my previous instructable. Please write suggestions if you have ideas on how to improve this project. Thank you!

<p>Excellent!</p><p>I have an antique cast iron wall &quot;fireplace&quot; for burning coal, and this is exactly what I want to see in it.</p><p>How many lights can be added?</p>
LEDs do not use much current. A typical wall adaptor supplies 500mA, a typical LED consumes 20mA, so in theory you could have 25 LEDs! Though even at four, I thought it was plenty bright for the effect.
<p>OK!</p><p>Let's say I want to &quot;string these out&quot; along my driveway to light luminaria (originally small paper bags) in place of candles.</p>
<p>Then I say, that'd be awesome! :-)<br>However, while the LEDs do not use much current, the USB fan probably require 150mA each. Maybe you can use a computer power supply instead of wall adaptors. Please share if/when you do this. I think it's a great idea!</p>
<p>Adding a fog machine and more flickering lights would be a nice addition!</p>
Fog and ember would definitely improve the effect. Thanks Dylan!
<p>Great fire special effects.</p>
<p>Thanks Jason!<br>It turned out better than we had hoped.</p>
<p>Great fire special effects.</p>
<p>Great fire special effects.</p>

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