Simply put, this is how to build LED antennae for you cap without any soldering.

The genesis for this idea started at a Make Magazine meetup in San Francisco. They had moved in to the old Exploratorium building and invited the public to celebrate the new space. They provided pizza, sodas, beer and a ton of 10mm LEDs of various colors, CR2032 batteries and duct tape and then said have at it. My daughter covered her lanyard, put pupils on a Neff face hoodie, and urged me to put them on my hat. They looked like little nubs atop my cap. After that night I wore the cap around for weeks. In time the duct tape started to give way, it would constantly stick to my hair, and the LEDs would flicker on and off. Also during this time kids and some adults would stare at them, ask what they were or just immediately identify them an antennae, and ask how does it work.

Then I had a LED moment! An army of human-insect hybrids both young and old marching towards city hall demanding the right to co-exist peacefully amongst cranial normals. I thought I'd write up an Instructable and direct folks to the site where they can build their own.

Step 1: Parts and Tools

This is the parts list for the basic build of the LED antennae. To make it truly fun, purchase various color wire, LEDs and chenille stems.


  • Hat that has 2 ventillation holes in the front
  • 12" Chenille stems (pipe cleaners), qty x2
  • 8" solid core hookup wire, 22 awg, qty x4
  • 2-pin Dupont wire connector, female, qty x2
  • LED, qty x2
  • CR2032 battries, qty x2
  • hot glue, optional
  • 2" foam tape or sticky back velcro


  • 3D printer
  • Needle nose plier
  • Wire cutter

This Instructable requires 2 difficult to come by parts: a 3D printed battery holder and a 2-pin Dupont connector. The battery holder was designed special. It has holes on the side where the stems connect. I tried a few off the shelf battery holders but although they can hold the battery, they use tabs or leads that need to be soldered. Also, they don't have any way a stem can connect to it. As for the 2-pin Dupont connector, this simply uses crimping to hold the wire in place. This is one reason why this Instructable does not need to be soldered. Also, since the LED leads simply slide into the female pin connector, if on a whim one wanted to use a different color or size or style LED, it can easily be swapped out.

As for solid versus stranded wire, I prefer solid core wire. It holds it shape better than stranded wire which has more flexibility. Because one of the ideas is to shape the antennae like how insects have them, it's nicer when the antennae/wire combination is stiffer.

About This Instructable



Bio: Just a guy looking to make cool things
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