Introduction: LED Hula Hoop

Picture of LED Hula Hoop

Some friends wanted a lighted hula hoop for burningman, and when they turned out to be about $200 each, I decided to make one. All the parts cost about $15 . . . total time to make the hoop was about 3 hours, but that included time for figuring things out. You could probably make one in less than 2 hours with this instructable and soldering skills . . .

12' - polyethylene tubing
1x tubing connector
6x LED's (or more if you like)
6x 69ohm resistors (calculate for your LED's)
6x LED holders
14'x2 copper wire
1x mini switch
1x AAA battery holder (2xbatteries, 3Volts)
assorted heat shrink
random paperclips

Step 1: Make Your Own Hoop

Picture of Make Your Own Hoop

I can't claim credit for figuring out how to make the hoop itself. For that, see the JasonUnbound website There, you'll find excellent instructions on making a great hoop! As for materials, I got my tubing and connector from US Plastics. I ended up getting a 100 foot roll of the 1" PE Flexible Pipe Not-NSF Listed 80 psi. Ended up making about 8 hoops with this, so on a per hoop basis, it's pretty cheap!

When making your hoop, there is one modification that needs to be done to the JasonUnbound version: File/cut off the ridges on one side of the tube connector. Cutting off most of the ridges as shown in the pic will allow you to take the tube apart when you need to replace the batteries, but still keep the tube together while hooping.

Step 2: Drill LED Holes

Picture of Drill LED Holes

The hoop shown in the intro pictures had 3 LED's facing outwards, and 3 more LED's facing upwards to sorta "highlight" the hooper. Plan out your configuration and mark the hoop before drilling! I used a 1/4" drill bit, and drilled completely through the tube (you'll see why later).

Once you've drilled your holes, run a pair of copper wires through the length of your tube, leaving about 2 feet of extra length. I used a twisted pair scavenged from some old ethernet cables for this.

Step 3: Running Wires Through the Hoop

Picture of Running Wires Through the Hoop

Make a handy wire pulling tool from a paperclip as shown in the pic. Now, you're ready to start wiring the LED's, starting from one end, working towards the end that has the 2 extra feet of wire.

With the wire pulling tool, fish around in the tube and pull the wiring through the first 1/4" hole. Since this is the end of the wire, pull it all the way out . . . an LED/resistor can be directly soldered to the end (next step). The rest of the wires should be pulled out only a few inches, enough for you to work with.

Once pulled out, cut the positive(+) wire, and stripped a section of the ground (-) wire. Strip both ends of the cut +wire and twist them back together. I didn't want to cut both wires, for fear that they'd accidentally pull back in the tube and cause me wire-fishing stress. The auto-wirestripper shown is one of the handiest tools I've ever bought!

Step 4: Soldering the LED's

Picture of Soldering the LED's

Once you've got a wire pulled, solder a resistor (I used 69ohm) to the lead of your LED. Once again, another type of paperclip comes in handy.

Now slip a 1" length of heat shrink tubing over the twisted pair of +wires. The heat shrink should be able to fit over your resistor. I use a clip to hold the heat shrink in place, since it'll start shrinking if it gets too close when you're soldering the lead.

Next, solder the +wires to the other end of the resistor (see pics), and the -wire to the ground lead of the LED. I calculated my resistor value to be 75ohms, but the closest I could find was 69ohm. You may need a different value depanding on your LED's. Here's a quick LED resistor calculator that I used.

Clip the leads, and pull the heat shrink tubing over the entire +wire assembly (LED lead, resistor, +wire) as you don't want your +/- shorting together while hooping!

Step 5: Mount LED's

Picture of Mount LED's

Next, mount the LED's in a 1/4" LED Holder . . . I got mine from Radio Shack, part #276-079. First , shove the LED assembly you just soldered, back into the 1/4" hole, just below the surface of the hole.

Then, snap the LED holder into the 1/4" hole you drilled. Now, while making sure the LED holder doesn't pop out, use a small rod (I used an old drill bit) to snap the LED into the LED holder from the back. This is where the hole through the entire hoop comes in handy! You should feel the LED snap into place.

Feel free to test your LED wiring at any time . . . you don't need to wire up the whole circuit before testing!

REPEAT STEPS 3-5 for all the LED's you plan on putting in

Step 6: Wire Switch and Batteries

Picture of Wire Switch and Batteries

Find a small switch, just about any switch will do . . . the crappier, the better actually, as long as it's tiny. In order to keep the hoop relatively flat all around, I cut off the switch "handle" until it was slightly more than flush with the main switch body. With a little bit of thumb friction, it's still easy to turn on/off.

For the switch hole, I drilled a 3/8" hole, then filed it square with a set of mini-files.

Next wire, the switch (don't forget heat shrink!) and the batteries. The batteries should be wired to original 2ft excess end, out the end of the hoop as shown.

As always, feel free to test as you go! Sucks to wast heat shrink!

Step 7: Finishing Up

Picture of Finishing Up

Once you've turned everything on to make sure all LED's light up, it's time to button'er up! Slide the AAA battery holder in the end of the hoop, and connect the hoop together.

The switch should be snug in it's spot, but just to be sure, place some electrical tape around the tabs and hoop to keep the switch from flying out.

Happy Hooping!


ZlHoop (author)2016-06-05

Check out the ZL Hoop and see up close images how some of the different parts are put together.

ccandiloro (author)2014-02-10

For the person that had the question regarding the PSI tubing... It does matter in a way~ the different PSI's all have a different strength, stiffness, and weight to them... The higher the PSI the heavier they are and better for the beginner Hooper (160 PSI) or the Hooper looking for a workout hoop... A 100 PSI or 80 PSI would be a good dance hoop and have a faster reaction time and be springier and better suited for children, as well (if you wanted to make one for a child). There is also a considerable difference in cost at the local home improvement stores when you go from a 125 PSI or 100 down to 80~ saving usually $30-$40 on a 100' coil.

joejchin (author)2012-01-27

Great tutorial - I'm going to give it a shot.

A few questions:
1) Where do you get the LED holders (site/store, model)? I tried googling but couldn't find.

2) If I wanted to use 24 LED's instead of 6, would I need more batteries? What would suffer, brightness or battery life?

3) I noticed that JasonUnbound recommends 100psi tubing and you used 80psi. Any difference - better or worse?


Ledgar8 (author)joejchin2012-05-25

They got the led clips from Radio Shack, part #276-079.
If you used more leds the battery life would be shorter (you could use more batteries and higher value resistors for better battery life).
The psi number should not matter, psi stands for pressure per square inch so higher psi means thicker or stronger pipe.

Ledgar8 (author)Ledgar82012-05-26

In psi the pressure is measured in pounds.

geraghty (author)2010-09-02

I want to make one. but i think my niece would peel the tape of around the switch can you think of a more secure way of fitting it onto the hoop? maybe super glue?

iwoodinspire (author)geraghty2011-09-06

Possible to superglue it, but superglue can eat certain plastics. It might work to use the little tiny bolts and nuts that come with the switch, but the switch would have to be close to the end and still out of the way of the insert.

Use duct tape and superglue it to itself, that might work.

Ledgar8 (author)iwoodinspire2012-05-26

Maybe hot glue would work. I recently bought a 10w mini glue gun for only £4.
It has high and low temperature settings.

dankhoops (author)2009-09-29

Here is some battery advice from a new LED hoop maker on the block (me):

Product: Li-ion 18650 Cylindrical Rechargeable Cell: 3.7V 2200mAh (8.14Wh) -- Made in China

Product Link:

I searched high and low across the internet for the best batteries for my DIY project. My goal was to make a Hula Hoop with lights in it. Common hoops on the market have 3 batteries in parallel spaced throughout the hoop. I wanted to reduce assembly time and only use one battery. The obvious choice was to use Lithium-Ion technology over Alkaline batteries. Using only one battery will not oly reduce the assembly costs, but time, and number of wires needed to run throughout the hoop.

It wasn't until I found that I was able to find this battery. The Li-ion 18650 Cylindrical Rechargeable Cell: 3.7V 2200mAh (8.14Wh) -- Made in China turned out to be the perfect battery for me. It wasn't purpleish-blue as in the picture, but the green that it came to me in wasn't a factor. The 18650 dimensions, 2200 mAh capacity, lithium-ion, rechargability, weight and price were all factors in deciding to use this battery. I was a bit sceptical as this battery is cheaper than the others offered on that are assembled in Japan or Korea, but there was only one way to find out how reliable and durable these units are. I ordered them with the optional tabs and these were also of high quality. My first order consisted of 7 batteries, and my second 25. I haven't had a problem with any of the first 7. So, the true test of quality and workmanship with be known with the batch of 25. I am extremely confident that I will have no problems. I spoke over the phone with a customer service representative and learned about their QA process. Each battery is individually tested before it is shipped. When I heard this, I knew I had found a good company and was happy to purchase from them. Furthermore, BatterySpace is located in the San Francisco Bay Area and I was able to pick up my order on the same day. Supporting the local economy and having the convenience of same day service puts BatterySpace at the top of my list.

I was also able to find a charger for this battery that is compact and fool-proof. After assembling my project and taking it out to field test it, I couldn't have been happier with my decision. My project isn't the softest on batteries and impacts are not uncommon. A hula hoop can get pretty beat up! But, I have yet to experience one problem with these batteries, and I couldn't be more enthused. This is going to help me complete prototyping of my project faster and more successfully. Thanks again, BatterySpace. I've already placed a second order, and it's only a matter of time before I place my third and forth and so on!

Capacity - 2200 mAh
Tabs (optional)

Made in China - no problems for me, but could become a potential issue with larger order

cblack13 (author)dankhoops2011-09-01

You can get most of the small electronic parts online through DigiKey. They are much cheaper than Radio Shack and the parts higher quality. You can find a detailed list of parts along with links at

dyermaker8 (author)dankhoops2010-03-15

I'm a little concerned with these batteries,. i ordered a couple and afterwards realized they we're raw li-ion cells without a built in PCB,.  did you build your own protection circuit or are you going without? How are they holding up 6 months later? Regardless,  people should know these batteries sold as listed in your link can be dangerous (blowing-up in flames kinda stuff) and proper caution should be exercised. 

bjones10 (author)2011-05-26

Where do you get your LEDs and battery things??

cblack13 (author)bjones102011-09-01

You can get most of the small electronic parts online through DigiKey. They are much cheaper than Radio Shack and the parts higher quality. You can find a detailed list of parts along with links at

Morgan.Waldhart (author)2010-11-18

I seem to have stumbbled onto a significant flaw in this design. I am in the process of making this hoop, and I have completed everything up to the light array. So, I hooked up my first light, which would be my last light in the chain, so I am working towards the battery. And now, when I soldered the next light in the chain, and tested the power on them neither of them worked. But, when I tested each one individually they worked. From what I have read on basic LED circuits it only requires one resistor to right the whole voltage for the whole chain of lights. So, it would seem instead of several resistors on each LED, it should be one at the start of the chain. Can anyone who knows more about electronics than I do verify this? I am stuck, and would really like to get this done :)

cblack13 (author)Morgan.Waldhart2011-09-01

You'll want a resistor for each LED to be safe. Resistors have a maximum current and by using only one you'll run the risk of overheating.

jatb28 (author)2011-01-10

was it balanced with the batteries only in one place?

tandemquadrant (author)2010-08-18

That's amazing!! But how do you stop the batteries from sliding around in the hoop and gumming up all your wiring?

jatb28 (author)tandemquadrant2011-01-10

try bubble wrap. see the instructibles on an EL wire hula hoop:

lilgamoma (author)2010-11-16

This looks so cool but I am totally lost on the calculating resistors part. :(

geraghty (author)2010-09-02

me again, id first like to say this is amazing, can i ask if i decided to up the led,s to 10 do i still need the same resisters but ten? and do i need more batterys if i had 10 leds or does it just meen the batteries wont last as long, or buy more powerful batterys? sorry about the 100 and 1 questions just am rearly interesterd in this. Hope you can help.

jeffkobi (author)geraghty2010-10-18

Yep, you'd still need the same resistors if you used 10 or even 12 LEDs. Batteries wouldn't last as long but they'd still last a pretty long time (~10hrs?). Also, superglue would be an excellent backup to the tape. The tape will also cover up the holes on the back of each LED. Lemme know if you have more questions!

geraghty (author)2010-09-02

Hi, so for evry led i have do i need a hole on the oposit side of the tube? do these get filled in by somthink? hope you can help i rearly want to make one of these.

dyermaker8 (author)2010-03-15

For people out there looking for a safe rechargeable battery with charger , just order the kit from Prodmod, and get the dc jack thrown in. The price is very much fair,. I don't think you'll do better without buying in bulk,. but if you want to order them from the supplier separately, heres the battery and heres the charger.  

variablechange (author)2009-08-05

My local RadioShack didn't have the resistors I needed for this. I ended up buying most of the electronics from They have an awesome website, but shipping is kinda expensive.

dog812 (author)2008-12-13

This post and prodmod's also inspired me to make a rechargeable version that uses AA NIMH batts and a simple plug in style charger.
I have my instructions up aswell for anyone interested. I am making a dual color choice hoop next week. So ill be adding some more pics.

kylemacmac (author)2008-11-11

A good technique is to use strings of battery powered Christmas lights. They're already good to go, just some jimmying needed with the switch and such. They should be available at any hardware store this time of year, and ebay has a ton of them as well. The ones rated for 3 AA or 3 AAA batteries work best. $5 - $10 a string. Nice and easy. Training wheels for led hula hoop building, if you'd like. I put some led hula hoopsled hula hoops together for kinda like the most reasonable price ever, if you want to just order one all finished, like. Have fun,


jflo1008 (author)2008-09-23

i went to radio shack and they only had 68ohm resistors...will this do?

funhunter671 (author)2008-05-11

for us A.D.D. slackers.... would it be possible to use strands of xmas lights?...and modify them to take rechargeable batteries? some xmas lights have built in sequencers, That could probably be torn down to just the necessary components. ...Just a thought. ...BTW, great post, thanx!

n8man (author)funhunter6712008-07-02

You could just cut the wires and test how high the voltage needs to be. I have hooked up Christmas lights to 9 volts when I was 5.

jeffkobi (author)funhunter6712008-05-15

i'm sure it'd be possible . . . however there's a billion types of xmas lights out there that would range from easy to near-impossible to convert. If you happen upon a LED string of lights that could be fairly easy to convert as you'd "bypass" the AC-DC conversion and just feed the low voltage circuitry with battery juice. the actual AC versions could be tougher as your talking higher voltages and the need to add additional circuitry instead of subtracting it. NOTE: The above is pure speculation based on a few xmas light strings I've taken apart . . . I've never actually run them off battery power before.

prodmod (author)2008-07-02

Jeff, your Instructable inspired me to look into the LED Hoops that are available for $100-$300. As I researched the materials Craft magazine published a DIY in February. I then came up with an even easier way to make a nice one out of the white tubing and 21 LEDs. You can even build it without soldering. I wrote a DIY and sold parts kits and am now onto a rechargeable version and will soon add sensors. This is a really fun project to work on and to keep upgrading the design. You can see the kit here.
Thanks for starting me off on this path!

Oh Yoshimi (author)2008-05-06

I recently made this exact hoop. However, my addiction to LED's shortly took over and I wanted a hoop with way more LED's. I'm trying to figure out how many batteries it would take to power 20 or so LED's at least through a weekend. SO, I'm doing a little experiment with my current hoop which has 6 LED's. So far it's been shining bright for 48 hours straight! WOO HOO!

Killa-X (author)2008-04-17

Yeah, I saw some LED hula hoops at walmart befor for around 10-15 dollars. i think they only have 4 leds and power though, but thats enough to make a full circle at night.

canadian_hooper (author)2008-04-17

This looks awesome, I can't wait to try making one. Do you know what the weight of the finished hoop was? If I wanted to make one with 10 or 12 leds, how would you recommend going about it? Will I need 2 battery supplies? (I'm guessing that running that many leds from 3v would result in not very bright leds?)

Redrustycar (author)2008-04-14

This is a very nice tutorial... My good friend makes his hoops out of recycled phone chargers so they last up to 8 hrs. I've had mine for over a year and haven't had it loose it's light yet. somehow he worked out the balance issue as well. It is a quality product everyone should check em out if you aren't into putting the effort to make your own. There is even an option for a Solar pannel to power it so you don't have to feel the least bit bad about having fun with it all night long. just a thought. oh and I haven't found any that are as nice as his for less.

Redrustycar (author)Redrustycar2008-04-14

The link didn't work it's

elvis22 (author)2008-03-25

I made some non-LED hoops that are 3/4in. and really like them. I'm assuming the batteries for this wouldn't fit. Is there an easy way to modify these directions to work in a 3/4in. hoop, or do I really need to go up to a 1in. to make this work?

jeffkobi (author)elvis222008-03-25

The AAA battery holder I use probably wouldn't fit in a 3/4" hoop, but that's just because the batteries are side-by-side (and wired in series to get 3V).

I found this product #270-401 at radio shack. It's a single AA holder, so you have to wire 2 of them in series to get the 3V you'll need.

Basically connect the red wire from one batter holder to the black wire of the second batter holder. Now wire the unconnected red/black wires just like i did with the AAA holder in the instructable.

The single AA holders may still be a little loose in a 3/4" hoop, so you might want to wrap them with some foam (or paper towels, etc) before you shove them in the hoop.

Let me know if you need any help!

elvis22 (author)jeffkobi2008-03-25

Awesome. Thanks

babayaga2000 (author)2008-02-14

just tell me where you got the switch please i ve been looking everywhere

jeffkobi (author)babayaga20002008-02-14

grabbed the cheapest SPST switch from Radio Shack. Search for this part number on their website: 275-406

babayaga2000 (author)jeffkobi2008-02-22

thankx a lot

scaffnet (author)2007-11-14

Hi there, I made this project with a friend last night. It went smooth as silk! I handled the hoop construction and modification, my friend did the soldering and wiring, as he used to do that for a living! I have a couple of comments to add: by our calculations, using the LED calculator, 15 Ohms was the resistor to choose. We are not sure why the author chose such a high resistor for such low power. Cutting a hole for the switch was made easier by using a drill to start two adjacent holes, then using a utility knife to cut a nice square hole. Our needle files were waaay to fine toothed to remove any pipe material. We had to file down the AAA battery pack as it was too snug in the pipe. We also added a piece of scrap wire to pull it out with so we don't stress the solder joins in the future. We chamfered the LED holes with a large drill bit, by hand, rather than filing. It makes a neater hole and takes just a few twists of the bit. As my much more experienced friend said at the end, 'this went much smoother than expected!' I'll be giving the hoop to my girl for her 8th birthday this weekend. I'm sure she'll love it.

jeffkobi (author)scaffnet2008-02-14

glad to hear everything went so smooth! As for the higher value resistors, I used red LED's as my worst case scenario which had a voltage drop of around 1.6V, thus the higher values. 15ohms probably would've worked fine for the blue and greens. I did notice that the blue and green LED's were a little less bright than the red one's, so if you want to get fancy, definitely calculate and use different values for each color LED!

westfw (author)2007-06-27

I did buy a a commercial LED-illuminated hoop for far at a random sporting goods store for far less than $200 (indeed, not significantly more than a regular hoop) (for the kids, of course. I could never get a hoop to work. I'm too white and nerdy.) Either the BM version had other features that haven't been mentioned (custom braided multi-animal leather covering? POV LEDs that spell out configurable messages? Lasers, flames, pyrotechnics?) or BM has become a lot more rip-off commercial than I thought.

rhellemans (author)westfw2007-11-06

You must not do a lot of hooping. Most commercial made hoops are not made for adults, and adults don't have much success using them either. They are too small and too light. Professional hoop dancers need the heavier tubing hoops. These at burning man are professional size and weight, with the add LEDs.

westfw (author)rhellemans2007-11-07

Heh. Maybe I need a really big, really heavy, hoop!

jeffkobi (author)westfw2007-06-27

one of them was programmable and color changing! just to avoid confusion, the $200 hoop had no connection with BM whatsoever and wasn't even mentioned in their ads . . .

AncientWays (author)2007-09-27

As a major hooping addict...and not with $200-$300 burning in my pocket...I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS! Thanks!

1nthesun (author)2007-09-21

great details and precise instructions. got any suppliers to recommend? Kitty

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