Introduction: LED Throwie - Instant Messanger Tube

Picture of LED Throwie - Instant Messanger Tube

You've got something to say, and you want to stick it on metal and let it be seen with an LED glow. Well, your in luck. Today I'm going to show you how to make LED Throwie - Instant Messenger Tubes to get your message spread in the physical world.

see the LED Throwie - Instant Messanger Tube in action at

Now, I can t take all the credit here

The LED Throwie

"Led Throwies (An LED throwie is a small LED attached to a coin battery and a rare earth magnet , used for the purpose of creating non-destructive graffiti and light displays.) were devised by James Powderly and Evan Roth working together at the Graffiti Research Lab during a fellowship at Eyebeam OpenLab in 2006. The technology, like everything from the OpenLab, is open source and in the public domain. LED Throwies were designed as a new kind of graffiti art to be used on ferromagnetic surfaces like steel. Part of GRL's original campaign involved distributing throwies to a group of people, who were then encouraged to throw them onto a metal sculpture called Alamo, located at Astor Place, Manhattan, New York City."

Step 1: What You Need!

Picture of What You Need!
Here's what your going to need
  • 10mm Super Bright LED (preferably diffused)
  • CR2032 3V Lithium Batteries
  • Rare Earth Magnet
  • Tape
  • Transparency Film
  • 8.5 x 11 Paper (with your message)

Step 2: Make the LED Throwie

Picture of Make the LED Throwie

You can follow me here or a number of other resources on the Web. Here is the GRL link to an instructable on how to make a LED Throwie.

Grab your LED (if you don't have a diffused LED you can easily fake it by using some sand paper to scratch the plastic and make it diffused), Battery, Magnet and Tape.

What you want to do is put the battery between the two legs(leads) of the LED. Be sure to have the longer leg on the +(positive) side of the battery. Next. Take a strip of tape and wrap it around the LED leads and battery to secure them together.

Next, take another piece of tape and secure the magnet to one side of the LED and battery.

Voualah- you have made an LED Throwie.

Step 3: Make the Instant Messanger Tube

Picture of Make the Instant Messanger Tube

Here is where the magic happens. Grab a sheet of the Transparency Film and roll it into a tube. I would give it a diameter of 2-3 inches. Use a couple strips of tape to secure the tube. Next grab your sheet of paper with your message and roll it into a tube as well, but just a little smaller than the first. Be sure to roll your paper tube in such a fashion that your message is visible. Now slide the paper (message) tube into the transparency tube till both ends are flush. You now have your Instant Messenger Tube.

Step 4: Spread the Word!!!

Picture of Spread the Word!!!

All that is left to do is to use the LED throwie to hold up the Message Tube on any metal surface. Turn off the lights and your all set. Your message glows with LED magic.


MarkT138 (author)2017-06-21

codongolev (author)2008-12-01

I don't really like the message on there..... but as an important enlightenment leader said, "I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it!" 20 points to whoever can guess who said it.

m3harri (author)codongolev2010-12-16

Zapp Branagan

codongolev (author)m3harri2010-12-18

actually, my history teacher said it.

m3harri (author)codongolev2010-12-18

Zapp Branagan is your History Teacher

monkeydavis-1 (author)m3harri2011-10-02

well then zapp branagan's history teacher is peter griffin.

jakebaldwin (author)codongolev2011-05-18

I was going to say something here but I won't. Everyone to his own.

codongolev (author)jakebaldwin2011-05-19

2008. so long ago... I now know that posting about politics on the internet is like putting your arm into a starving lion's cage after covering it in meat and doing gazelle calls.... someone may come take your arm for it if you're not careful.

Frag (author)codongolev2010-08-23

I believe you did. Who else would be posting from your profile. Duh.

codongolev (author)Frag2010-09-03

technically, I typed it. win.

minjoon (author)codongolev2010-08-21

Evelyn Beatrice Hall ackshully said it first~ I win !

cyrozap (author)codongolev2008-12-04

That quote is often misattributed to Voltair. If it's him you were referring to, I'm right and I get 20 points. If I'm wrong, please enlighten me to who you were quoting.

codongolev (author)cyrozap2008-12-04

yes, it is Voltaire. and why do you say missattributed? I I'm ill informed, I'd like to know.

cyrozap (author)codongolev2008-12-05

I thought it was Voltair too, but then I saw this:

lskidmore (author)2011-07-26

its tempting to make a response....with Bush or McCain...........

lskidmore (author)2011-07-26

Yea that sounds like a simpler/cheaper way

cjrush1009 (author)2010-05-10

does it HAVE to say OBAMA?!?

ilpug (author)cjrush10092010-11-18

at least it doesnt say "OSAMA"

cjrush1009 (author)ilpug2010-11-19

How about "GW BUSH" wouldn't that be just as ridiculous?

cyrozap (author)2008-12-04

Try not to make an Instructable with political stuff in it. You have every right to do so, but some people will criticize you for it. I am not criticizing you, but there are some people who will not like you for your political beliefs. They are called "radicals," and both major U.S. political parties have them. Sorry for the gloomy comment. Otherwise, cool Instructable! :)

m3harri (author)cyrozap2009-06-18

I agree look how much effort is being put into politics instead of this cool and nifty idea.

ilpug (author)m3harri2010-11-18

cool AND nifty? two for one :P

grodenbarg (author)cyrozap2009-05-10

LOL, they are called "patriots" because they know what is really going on behind this steel curtain knows as US politics. :P

neckrochylde9 (author)grodenbarg2009-09-14

oh come on unless you ARE behind the "steel curtain" no ne really know what is "going on " politics are an unwinnable war! happiness nd long life to all those laidback!! cheers!

corey_caffeine (author)cyrozap2009-04-25

... radicals kill people for political/religious reasons criticism is human...

So Jesus killed people? Last I checked, he was pretty radical...

win :)

Um, LED Throwies are a form of graffiti which has stemmed many different forms of street art that deal with political views. In fact graffiti itself is now used to spread political messages. That's like saying I made and instructable about Wheatpasting and people don't expect me to put some kind of propaganda in the instructable.

adambehman (author)cyrozap2009-01-04

Got it... Thanks... I know, I think a debate was on and I was looking at the LED throwing GRL post at the same time. Thanks :)

sdudley (author)2010-03-21

I like this instrucable too...

Can we "throwie" him out of office? 

sdudley (author)sdudley2010-03-21

Correction... "instructable". (author)2009-12-05

hey great work, how long does the batterie last?

dobbylvr (author)2009-06-18

I love this! great work... yay for obama!

cyrozap (author)2008-12-04

Just had a brain-blast. Tape is handy but will eventually fall off. Instead of taping the leads of the LED to the battery, you could use a "conductive when cured" epoxy. You can find some on ebay. 20 points to whoever can guess where "brain-blast" is from.

codongolev (author)cyrozap2008-12-04


(I feel like a failure for even knowing that.)

(and sorry for shouting.)

dobbylvr (author)codongolev2009-06-18


cornflaker (author)codongolev2008-12-12

Haha nice

cyrozap (author)codongolev2008-12-05

+20 points to you

Ladilola (author)2009-03-11

Maybe instead of a sheet of plastic one could recycle a plastic bottle?

nollij (author)Ladilola2009-05-05

That sounds like a much cheaper way! Just cut the ends off a plastic bottle... of course, it needs to be one that has a paper or plastic wrapper on the outside that can be removed, otherwise your message will be obfuscated by the printing on the bottle.

eaglemikeo (author)nollij2009-06-17

actualy, why cut the ends off... just need one end to feed the message into... and depending on the size of the battery, it may fit into the smaller hole on the side. Perhaps just glue the magnet to the outside instead... I like this idea... just make sure you rinse out the bottle, and wait for it to dry... nobody likes a wet message!

corey_caffeine (author)2009-04-25

one problem i see ~~OSAMA~~ OBAMA IS BAD FOR THE ECONOMY

JuCo (author)corey_caffeine2009-05-11

yeah, 'cause tax cuts and big spending was helping us dig out of the hole we were in. i'm not all for obama, but he's a better fit than the connecticut cowboy.

corey_caffeine (author)JuCo2009-05-13

he's never led anything!

haha, i get it, "he's never LED anything"

JuCo (author)corey_caffeine2009-05-13

is that why he's bad for the economy, or are we just gonna bounce from accusation to accusation? i ask because i wanna know whether to stay involved in this conversation.

Emsaid (author)2009-05-28

Whats the difference between OBAMA and OSAMA? a little BS (vote for Pedro!)

grizzly g (author)2009-03-31

good one...except for the obama part!!!

adambehman (author)grizzly g2009-04-03

haha, thanks

paulezra (author)2009-01-15

great adaption of the LED throwies, i can now get my LED Throwie tags down from 50 LED's to make one word light up to just 1. AWSOME

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