Introduction: LED Night Light




Here's a relatively easy weekend project that will yield astonishing results!


With a few hours and some handy materials you can build your own LED night light.
My first trial took about 5 hours of continuous work to design and fabricate the finished product.

After several trials, it took an average of 2 - 4 hours in the shop before I've finished making one complete night light. This is mostly due to the amount of soldering and wiring that had to be done for each LED. 

In the end, I feel it was well worth the effort.

Step 1: Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Picture of Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Tools:
-Table Saw
-Drill Press
-Handheld Screw Driver with various bits and drivers (varies according to size of LEDs)
-Glue Gun
-Solder Iron
-Wire Stripper
-Sharpie Pen
-Measuring Tape

Materials:
-Solder
-5mm RGB LEDs
-Speaker Wire (I used 20 AWG)
-1 AA Battery Holder w/ Switch
-Glue Sticks
-Flat Black Spray Paint
-1 piece of Wood
-1 Sheet of Vellum
-Screws
 

Step 2: Step 2: Strip the Wood

Picture of Step 2: Strip the Wood

You'll want to strip a piece of wood in half using a table saw. 

Next, you'll want to cut those two pieces of wood into two  22", 18" and either 7" or 12" pieces.
(I chose the 12" length)

Keep in mind that I used only one piece of wood that was about 6' x 3" so be sure to measure twice and cut once.

Step 3: Step 3: Drill Pilot Holes

Picture of Step 3: Drill Pilot Holes

Now that you're wood is cut down to size, you'll want to go ahead and drill pilot holes (approximately 2" apart) into the 22" and either 12" or 7" pieces of wood.

In the cross-section view, you'll notice that this will require drilling two holes per LED. One of which will be at an angle.

Take note that you will NOT need to drill these holes into your 18" piece of wood.
Also, you will need to use a smaller sized driver (when drilling your pilots holes) than the size of the LED you'll be using.

I found it easier to obtain the angle I needed by fabricating a simple jig.
I used a couple of scrap pieces of wood glued together since my drill press could not mechanically rotate to the desired angle

Once you've finished drilling the pilot holes, now would be the perfect time to paint your wood.

Step 4: Step 4: Insert LEDs

Picture of Step 4: Insert LEDs

Now that you've drilled your pilot holes and painted your wood, you'll want to grab about 30x 5mm RGB LEDs and insert one into each hole.
(Unfortunately, I forgot to paint my wood before inserting the LEDs so it became problematic to take them out, paint the wood and then re-insert all 30 LEDs back into the wood. In essence, paint your wood BEFORE inserting the LEDs)

Once you've inserted an LED, I recommend keeping yourself organized by bending the ends of each LED so that the positive (the longer end) and negative ends (the short end) are spaced apart.
(This step also helps to keep the LED in place until you're ready to solder the connections)

Step 5: Step 5: Assemble the Frame

Picture of Step 5: Assemble the Frame

Now that you've inserted an LED into each hole, you'll want to start assembling the frame.

Start by positioning the 18" pieces on opposite sides of one another.

Then, lay down the sheet of vellum on top of them.

Position either your 12" or 7" pieces on top of the vellum so that it is centered and you're able to screw into the 18" piece that's directly under the vellum.

Finally, position the remaining 22" pieces of wood perpendicular to that of the 18" pieces of wood and fasten each intersecting corner of the 18" and 22" piece of wood with a screw.
(This step should also stretch the vellum so that it is flat against the 22" piece of wood)

Step 6: Step 6: Glue the LEDs to the Wood

Picture of Step 6: Glue the LEDs to the Wood

Now that you've fastened your frame together, you'll want to glue the LEDs to the wood.

Be sure the glue flows into the pilot hole and contact the plastic epoxy of the LED itself.
This will insure that the surface of the LED as well as the +/- leads will provide a secure fit.

Try your best to keep the glue concentrated in the hole. (You don't want a sticky mess as you prepare to solder the connections)

Step 7: Step 7: Solder the Leads

Picture of Step 7: Solder the Leads

Now that you've glued the LEDs to the wood, you'll want to solder the leads between each LED in parallel.

Each LED has 2 leads: a positive (+) and a negative (-).
To identify which lead is a positive or a negative, look closely at the 2 leads and compare their lengths. One lead will be longer than the other. This will be the positive (+) while the shorter lead will be the negative (-).

Using your speaker wire/soldering equipment, solder each positive (+) lead of the LED to the positive (+) lead of the LED immediately next to it and vice versa with the negative (-) leads.

Continue soldering the connections until you've fused all 30x LEDs together in parallel.

Finally, solder the AA battery holder leads to the appropriate leads on a lucky LED and test the connections by turning it on.

If a group of LEDs are obviously out of sync with the others, then apply more solder to those leads.
(It might have been the result of glue getting between the solder and speaker wire/LED)

Once everything is working, I would recommend applying a final coat of glue over all of the connections.
(This step will keep the soldered leads from falling apart, protect your hands from pointed tips, and adhere the speaker wire to the wood)

Step 8: The Finished Product

Picture of The Finished Product

Now that you've successfully completed all of the steps required to make an LED Night Light, you'll want to display it for the world to see. 

Thank you for your interest in my weekend project.

Comments

ilpug (author)2011-08-23

This is pretty awesome. I like the translucency. I might replace the vellum with a sheet of thin milky acrylic, so the whole thing could double as a white-board to write notes on.

AllenQ (author)2011-06-08

I love this project and it seems well within my "noobie" capabilities. The video shows lights blinking in an organized manner, yet I don't see any "intelligence" in the circuit. Are the blinking LEDs actually blinking randomly (it does not appear to be the case) or do you use a particular kind of LED? The RGB LEDs I've seen in my very limited experience have four leads (presumably 3 anodes and one cathode?). Can you please specify what kind of LEDs (and source?) you have used here?

Thanks. Again, it is nice to see such a polished project that can be accomplished with a limited skill/tool set

Kamiana8 (author)AllenQ2011-06-08

The LEDs seem to have a pre-configured circuit within the diode that allows it to cycle through it's color combinations. I wish I could point out the exact set of RGB LEDs I had bought from eBay but my purchase history is automatically deleted after quite some time. But to answer your question it must've been a certain type of LED with a built-in circuit that caused it to blink in a certain pattern. But of course I didn't know that the LED could do that when I bought it haha but I did want 2 leads instead of 4 since I have no experience with an LED with 4 leads.

I've shot a quick video of the RGB LED while attached to a 3v 2032 Coin Cell Battery to better illustrate my description. (I'll also post the video in this instructable for others to reference.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAgBqRHQsUc

thanks for you comment

AllenQ (author)Kamiana82011-06-09

If anyone is interested, I found them on ebay for $10 for 100 of them in the US with free shipping: http://cgi.ebay.com/100x-5mm-RGB-Rainbow-Flash-Fast-Slow-turns-LED-FR-/390321277953?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5ae0f60c01

or 8 pounds for 100 of them, UK, also with free shipping: http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/100x-5mm-RGB-Rainbow-Flash-Fast-Slow-turns-LED-FR-/160573827798?pt=UK_BOI_Electrical_Components_Supplies_ET&hash=item2562f22ad6

They are called "100x 5mm RGB Rainbow Flash Fast & Slow by turns LED FR" on the ebay sites. They have 3.5 forward voltage and, more to the point for this type of project, a view angle of 25 degrees. Best part, only two leads! All the blinking takes place internally.

AllenQ (author)Kamiana82011-06-08

Thanks Kamiana8. Your coin battery video demonstrates that the LEDs do follow some sort of internal blink sequence or program. Does anybody know where I can get two lead RGB LEDs? Ones similar to the ones in this instructable would be particularly appreciated.

Thanks!

AllenQ (author)2011-06-08

If anyone is interested, I found them on ebay for $10 for 100 of them in the US with free shipping: http://cgi.ebay.com/100x-5mm-RGB-Rainbow-Flash-Fast-Slow-turns-LED-FR-/390321277953?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5ae0f60c01

or 8 pounds for 100 of them, UK, also with free shipping: http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/100x-5mm-RGB-Rainbow-Flash-Fast-Slow-turns-LED-FR-/160573827798?pt=UK_BOI_Electrical_Components_Supplies_ET&hash=item2562f22ad6

They are called "100x 5mm RGB Rainbow Flash Fast & Slow by turns LED FR" on the ebay sites. They have 3.5 forward voltage and, more to the point for this type of project, a view angle of 25 degrees. Best part, only two leads! All the blinking takes place internally.

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