Instructables
Picture of LED Resin Cube
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Hello Again,
I've been wanting to use clear casting resin ever since I saw it used in this brilliant Instructable by Koogar.  Before I took on something as big as Koogar’s project, I wanted to start small so I came-up with “LED Resin Cubes”.

The idea behind the LED Resin Cube was inspired by a mercury switch that I found at my local electronic store.  I love the simplicity and look of this switch and wanted to incorporate it a project so you could see the switch in motion.  As the switch is made of glass and fragile, it’s pretty important to encase it in something strong – hence the clear resin.   

Check out the video below to see the LED Resin Cube in action.



This is a really easy project to do and the end result looks pretty cool.
 
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Step 1: Things to Gather

Material/Parts

1. LED lights.
I used these lights from eBay but it is up to you what type of LED light you want encased.  The LED's I used change colour everytime you push the swich, and for the last change the lights flash!

2. Batteries. 
I used these batteries from eBay.   They are small button batteries that can re-charge and throw out 3.7v which is plenty to power an LED/s

3. Charger.
I used this charger from eBay. 

4. Mercury Switch

5. Female 3.5mm power jack

6. Male 3.5mm plug

7. Copper wire.
(To make the frame)

8. Clear casting resin. 
This can be purchased from your local hardware store or eBay.  I used "Diggers Casting Resin" which I purchased from my local hardware store.

9. Solder

10. Casting mould. 
I used a small, square, plastic container which held chicken stock cubes - see below

Tools

1. Soldering iron

2. Pliers

3. Wire cutters
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Flambout1 year ago
This is so cool. I have bought the components to build this with a solar cell; but I do have a question. How did you keep the battery and the copper frame from being exposed to the air? If they were sitting on the floor of the mould, I assume that the resin could not entirely cover them. Did you manage this?
webgiant Flambout4 months ago

One way of preventing the bottom of the apparatus from touching the base of the resin is to mix up a tiny portion of the resin and fill the bottom of the mold. Then once the initial resin is dry, rest the apparatus on the resin base and fill it the rest of the way with resin mixture. The heat from the second application of resin should bond the resin base to the resin block, as it has done for me in the past.

I'd really like to see your design with the solar cell, can you share some details?
I have not had the compenents delivered yet. I was planning to copy this one, but wire up the solar cell to the batteries. I don't know wherebouts you are, but I bought a torch powered by a solar cell from the UK store Maplins - the brand name is Rolson and it says the cell is rated at 4.5v. The cost was about three pounds or so.
lonesoulsurfer (author)  Flambout1 year ago
Are you going to incorporate the solar cell into the resin? That's definitely the right way to go. I haven't found the right size solar panel yet, I'm looking for something small and square.

Also, you'll need a 5v to 5.5v to charge the 3.6v battery, the voltage needs to be higher so it is "forced" into the batteries.
Ah. I was hoping that a 4.5v cell would do it. Do you think that would work or shoudl I source a better cell? If it matters, I would prefer a low rate of charge to the battery since I think the cell will be exposed to light pretty much 24/7, but the LEDs will only be on occasionally. I am a bit worried about overheating.
lonesoulsurfer (author)  Flambout1 year ago
It might be ok - I assume the batteries are 3.6V? Overheating could definitely be an issue but so far my one hasn't exploded! It has probably helped that the batteries were so close to the bottom of the resin!
Yes, the batteries are 3.6v. I was wondering whether it is possible that the power jack in your cube could be acting as a heat sink? I assume it would not be very effective but it is connected to wiring, so any heat would presumably go along the metal of the circuit to the air.

I was thinking about resting the battery on a coin with the coin acting a a heat sink - what do you think?
lonesoulsurfer (author)  mrlivingston1 year ago
Howdy
I haven't made it yet! I plan to do one in a couple of weeks though. It will be similar to the one I made bit will have the copper sticking out the top so you can charge when needed.
lonesoulsurfer (author)  Flambout1 year ago
Good spotting!
There was a thin layer on the bottom and the battery was just inside the resin. Once I started sanding a tiny bit of battery was exposed. The way to fix this is to put a small layer of resin on the bottom of the mould and let this dry. You'll then be able to put the batteries on top without them being exposed at all.

Happy building!
ccronkhite9 months ago
Another option for charging would be to extend copper wire out of the resin, trim it off and make it flush with the outside and have a charging base with contacts that it sits on.

Or a snap-on base containing the battery. The battery contacts sit on the very outside edge of the resin block, and insert into the snap-on base. This would remove the problem of the battery getting killed by the resin, and remove the need for the ugly DC port on the top by moving it to the bottom.

I like the bare wire. I'm picturing a steam punk inspired creation with copper wiring and a charging base made out of wood, and/or brass.
ruguberto made it!5 months ago

Hello i did my best, mi recine went really wrong XD

either way it gets to hot when getting hard, so i think thats why batterys fail

i am going to try a new one, hoping it gets better

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lonesoulsurfer (author)  ruguberto5 months ago

Bad luck! Looks like though you got the insides to work which is great.

It looks like you have added too much catalyst to the resin. I have done this also before and the resin gets very hot and cracks. try using less catalyst next time.

Also, I would suggest trying my latest resin cube which can be found here. The batteries on my original don't hold a charge much any longer due to the batteries being enclosed.

Let me know how you go with the next one

Forgot the proces jejeje my recine its really not that good

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bpark10007 months ago
Comment about casting resin around rigid objects: the resin is very hard when it sets. As it sets, it shrinks, squeezing what is inside. (In other instructable for cube LED, you mention battery failing. This is probably due to its being crushed by the resin.) If you were to embed coins in the resin, the resin would crack after awhile due to the stress, at the edges of the coins. 2 ways to deal with this. One is to have some material with give (dip the battery in silicone rubber). The other is to anneal the resin, but the heat would ruin the battery. You may see cracks in time around the heatsink in the embedded lightbulb instructable.

If you polish your cube (or wet it to temporarily to "cover" the scratches), you can look for the stress by putting the cube between 2 layers of crossed polarizer film (get it from a pair of cheap polarized sunglasses.) You will see dazzling color if there is stress. For non-battery cubes, you can anneal them at 250 degrees F for 24 hours, then slowly cool. Don't run cube until totally cooled. Avoid large rigid objects in cube, and objects that are long and thin.
nerd74739 months ago
I didn't read all of the instructable but what type of resin did you use or what type do you recommend?
sercancer9 months ago
Hi there!! It is very good instruction. Well done.
Ive got a question. I am thinkin to use this resin coating for my project. Is this copper skeleton essential? Thanks in advance
Most excellent! I am really fond of led lights and have a good many saves along with tiny ciruits to drive them. I think i might give this one a try. Perhaps a flikering candle and a color changing one with removable battery compartments on each to skip the need to charge. Going to the Dollar Tree, I can get many cheap batteries and leds. I got 4 finger lights for one dollar, each having 3 batteries. I got tiny solar garden rock led that has a small rechargable battery and a switch. I might skip the mercury switch also, even though it is a really cool idea. A really great job, thanks for posting this instructable.
They look excellent! Have to try this. Thanks!
lastchance1 year ago
cool project. i see alot of people asking about solar power and stuff. please do your research before just thinking adding a solar is an end all. in beam robot we have whats call a solar engine. solar engine are design to be as efficiency and reliability as you need them but each one as pros and cons. i would say try a D1 solar engine. it charges during the day and run during night,
what did you use for the circuit board?
where did you get the male 3.5mm plug?
and how long did it take you to build?
Does this automatically stop recharging?
lonesoulsurfer (author)  HarryBeast20001 year ago
It takes a few hours to charge but doesn't stop automatically. It won't matter though if you leave the charger in, the battery will just get a bit warm but won't overcharge.
Where do I get the circuit board?
lonesoulsurfer (author)  hazeshadow161 year ago
Check out the list of parts - its the first one. Actually you could use any type of LED light, as long as it has a momentary switch to turn it on.
Neat! May be my project for Christmas 20113.
When you said "You can see a faint line where the 2 different set resins meet-up", is it only on the surface, or does it go all the way in? (would it be possible to wet sand it?)
lonesoulsurfer (author)  pakito151911 year ago
Hey there.
It is both - on the surface and inside. You can sand the outside one away so the 2 blend nicely. The inside can be just made out but you have to be looking for it to see it.
junits151 year ago
How cool would this be wi an induction charger
bowlen1991 year ago
looks great, you could try and make it charge through induction. like a toothbrush
^ +1 i was thinking the same thing!
shadowwynd1 year ago
This is a great idea and a good instructable. It has a lot of potential for variation.

You could also experiment with reflectors or diffusers in the resin above the LEDs. LEDs are very directional, so the light goes straight up. How would it look if you slowly added glitter or sequins while pouring the upper half of the resin? What about small squares of aluminum foil? What if you made bubbles in the top half (can of compressed air, or blowing through a straw)? What if you put a ping-pong ball (as a diffuser) directly on top of the LEDs and then covered the whole thing with resin? etc.

I would also vote for a different charging design (as you yourself noted). The female port on the top loses a lot of design points and can be accidentally filled with dirt, debris, water, etc. Inductive charging (like Wyle_E mentioned) would be the most elegant way of charging, but also the most complex. You could always just go with some copper terminals (pennies?) on the bottom that poke through the resin.

lonesoulsurfer (author)  shadowwynd1 year ago
The resin kind of acts like a diffuser so the light gets reflected somewhat. The light from the LED's made some really intersting pattens through the pre-polished resin so definitey think there is opportunity to get some great effects. I saw a guy on Instructables use tiny silver stars in his resin and the effect looks great. bubbles too would add some great effects.

Agree with the improvement on the port out the top. You could use copper out of the bottom but you would need to build everything upside-down so the copper sticks out the top.
I would really like to enclose everything on my next design so I'm thinking solar panels. (trying to keep it simple)
Ahh another very cool idea with solar panels !

Ask and ye shall receive lol ! :

Solar Panels (DIY Style!):

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Multi-Solar-Cell-78x19mm-B-Grade-0-25w-each-cell-for-DIY-Solar-panel-/221098166865?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&var=&hash=item337a7a4a51

Also you will need the tabbing wire:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/12m-of-tabbing-wire-for-DIY-Solar-Panels-using-solar-cells-/290728820558?pt=UK_Computing_Other_Computing_Networking&hash=item43b0c9bf4e

could make up your own panels depending on how much voltage you need !

been keeping me eye on these solar panels lol !

there are also smaller solar panels already made that you can buy but my thinking was if you were going to encase everything in resin anyways, then these panels would be much smaller that an actual panel pre-made, but then there are very small panels pre-made out there ;-)

Enjoy ;-)
thomathome1 year ago
incorparate some wierless charging, a shake charger or solar? your in for a winner. they'd be waterproof and would look nice around the garden. keep up the good work i am of to order me some resin : D
spyder20211 year ago
Thats cool, like how it shows everything perfect. I have casting resin also, just have not used it yet. Don't know what to make. Only down fall is if the LED burns out for some reason.

The resin I have is I think "Clear-Lite" what brand do you have?
lonesoulsurfer (author)  spyder20211 year ago
Hey there,
I used a casting resin called "Diggers casting and embedding resin" It uses a catalyst to activate the resin. I found it really easy to use. i think as long as you get the mixures right then you shouldn't have an issue.

LED's (if under the right conditions) should last 50,000 hours plus! What will fail at some stage is the battery as they lose capacity to store charge over time. but I reckon I've got a few charges yet before that happens : )
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