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LED candle from lasercut parts

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Picture of LED candle from lasercut parts
This instructable is for my lasercut LED candle design that you can download from Thingiverse.  It's a simple but useful electrical circuit that you make out of wood and copper tape (or cardboard and aluminum foil - I'll explain later about alternative materials).  We make this at Ace Monster Toys in Oakland, CA for our Hacker Scouts program, where kids 7-14 put it together themselves.  Young kids may need some help from their parents.  A little manual dexterity is required to get the parts to line up.

Because this is an educational project it's intended to be inexpensive at scale.  There are only two electrical components (the LED and the battery) and if you buy them in bulk, and use the full roll of copper tape, it should come out to less than $1 per candle.

This first version of the candle doesn't flicker; it's really more like a little flashlight, but it's a nice shape and size to be used in lanterns or halloween pumpkins.  I'm working on a design that uses a programmable ATTINY85 chip to flicker the LED.

Submitted by Ace Monster Toys Hackerspace in Oakland, CA for the Instructables Sponsorship Program
 
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Step 1: Materials list and tools. Also: What to use if you don't have a lasercutter

Picture of Materials list and tools.  Also: What to use if you don't have a lasercutter
Tools.jpg
Materials.jpg
If you've used the Thingiverse design to cut your pieces out of wood, you should have the parts shown here: Candle pieces 1, 2, and 3, plus a base and a switch arm.  

Additional materials:

1 LED.  I like the jumbo 10mm LEDS, for example this yellow one from Jameco.com
1 CR2032 battery, available from adafruit.com  and at most DIY hardware stores
1/4" adhesive copper tape, you can find it on amazon   (see below for alternatives)
A bamboo skewer or short 1/8" wooden dowel

Tools:
Scissors
Wood glue
A strong clamp (an office binder clamp works well)
Wire cutters

What if you don't have a laser cutter?
You can cut these pieces out of 1/8" corrugated cardboard using a craft knife, or out of 1/8" wood using a scroll saw.  You can even cut them out in layers of thin cardboard with scissors, and glue the layers together.  if you choose a different material just pay close attention to the thickness of piece #2: It should be almost the same thickness as the battery.  All of the parts need to be strong enough to hold up to use, and they need to be non-conductive, but if you keep those things in mind you can cut them out of anything you like.

Alternatives to copper tape
Since I was making a lot of these at Ace Monster Toys I bought a whole roll of 1/4" adhesive copper tape, but that's expensive.  One alternative is to buy a smaller roll of copper tape from your local garden center - they sell it there as a snail deterrent.  You'll need to cut it down into 1/4" strips.  The simplest alternative of all is to use ordinary aluminum foil from your kitchen.  Again, you'll need to cut it into strips, and you'll need to glue it.  Rubber cement will work better for this than wood glue.  Aluminum foil is thinner and more delicate than copper foil, so the key thing is not to leave any jagged edges that could tear as you move the switch arm.


rimfire131 year ago
This would look really cool made from acrylic. Already looks smooth but would look just elegant without burnt edges and see through electronics. Wouldn’t fit the “less than a dollar” budget though.
shoshanaabrass (author)  rimfire131 year ago
I might give that a try, after I get the 'flicker' chip installed which is my next step.
ringai1 year ago
It would also be simple to make this project using a scrollsaw rather than a coping saw or laser. I like your design.
shoshanaabrass (author)  ringai1 year ago
You're right! I never use our scrollsaw because the lasercutter is so handy, but I'll add this to instructions.
This is an excellent design. :D The finished product is so clean.
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