Build a Lego man lamp!
(If you are using a mobile and want to see it in action, click on the last picture (its a GIF)
If I could be any lego man it would be vintage space man. Definitely the coolest and happiest dude that ever flew in space. Last year I made a Lego man lamp which had a space man encased in resin with LED’s underneath (see here). This time I wanted to incorporate the LED into the actual Lego man so it would look like he was holding one in his hands.
As everyone knows, Lego men are small and fiddly. There isn’t much room to add anything let alone an LED, wires switch and batteries. That’s when I hit upon the idea of using fine copper wire from a DC motor for the wires. I could thread them through small drilled holes in the Lego man so you couldn’t see them, and hide the batteries and switch inside a small Lego box.
The cool coincidence about LED’s and Lego is that the sizes LED’s come in (5mm and 10mm) fit great into many different Lego pieces
The Lego man that I used isn’t actually a Lego man - it’s a knock off I found at a 2nd hand store. The only reason why I used him was I had him lying around doing nothing. You could just as easily use an authentic Lego man if you wanted to. Actually I think a Darth Vader with a light sabre would work great…
This isn’t too hard a build but it can be fiddly (thin wires and tiny drill pieces).
Step 1: Things to Gather
1. Lego man – your choice
2. A bunch of Lego bricks and flat sections (to build the box)
3. Lego coloured translucent parts (to make the lamp)
4. On-off switch – eBay
5. DC Motor (for the copper wire inside
6. 5mm LED – eBay
7. 12v battery holder – eBay
1. Drill and tiny drill piece
4. Stanley knife
5. Wire cutters
6. Sand paper
7. Soldering iron
Step 2: The Lego Brick
I’ll be talking about Lego bricks throughout the ‘ible so I thought it’ll be good to attach a drawing of what the actual part names are that go into making a Lego piece.
I’ll be using these terms throughout the ‘ible so hopefully the image will halp you understand what I’m talking about
Step 3: Make a Box
First thing to do is to make a small Lego box. This is where the battery and switch will be contained and the Lego man will stand on top of it.
1. Grab 2 x 8 flat sections. These will be the top and bottom of the box
2. Next find some single lined bricks and start to build the box. The most important thing to remember here is that one of the short sided walls needs to be made up of 2 x 1 blocks.
3. Leave the bottom flat section off for the minute as you will need to add the switch and battery holder
Step 4: Mod the Battery Holder
To enable to the battery holder to fit into the small Lego box, you will need to slight mod it.
1. Cut off the end which doesn’t have a spring
2. Next place 2 batteries into the battery holder and decide where best to cut it. Push the batteries against the spring and mark where to trim the battery holder. You are trying to work out where to attach the end you just cut off
3. With a piece of tape, stick the end into place against the cut battery holder. Add some superglue to ensure it won’t move.
Step 5: Mod the Lego Brick for the Switch
To enable to have the switch sit nicely into the box, you will need to mod a brick.
1. On the side of a 2 x 1 brick mark the size of the switch.
2. Next with either a Stanley knife or a pair of wire cutters remove the sides of the brick. The switch should fit nice and snug. You might have to use a small file to remove the centre bar and any rough edges.
3. Superglue into place being careful not to add any glue to the actual switch.
4. You will find that the switch gets in the way when trying to attach another brick underneath. You will need to slightly modify the bottom brick below by removing part of the stud on the brick underneath. I just used a Stanley knife to trim the stud
5. You will need to glue this brick into place (even though it holds pretty well still) but don’t do it yet. First we have to attach some wires to it
Step 6: Copper Wire
To get your hands on some very fine cooper wire, you will need to pull apart a DC motor. If you don’t have one lying around, you can always get them on eBay for cheap.
1. Bend back the tabs hold the bottom of the motor onto the cowling
2. Pull off the bottom and push out the shaft which will have the copper wire.
3. Carefully cut away the copper wire from where it is joined and start to un-wind. Start with 500mm and bend it in half.
Step 7: Modding the Lego Man
I the next step isn’t too hard but you will be drilling holes into very small pieces so take your time and be careful
1. First of all, decide on how the wire will be threaded through the Lego man. You want to hide as much as the wire as possible so plan where you want the wire to go before you start to drill
Legs – drill a hole through the top of the legs. The hole should be to either the left or the right.
Body – the body will be hollow so you don’t have to do anything there
Arm – carefully drill a hole in the inside of the arm where the hand joins. Try not to go right through to the shoulder if possible. If you do it doesn’t really matter as the hole is so small you won’t really see it anyhow.
Shoulder - Next drill a hole through the side of the shoulder so it joins to the other hole that you just drilled.
Hand – drill a hole through the hand
2. Next grab your copper wire and fold in half. This way you will be able to thread easily. Start by threading the end which is bent through the hole in the leg.
3. Next thread it through the body and arm hole.
4. Carefully push the wire through the hole you made in the shoulder and push it through the arm.
5. Lastly, thread the wire through the hand section. Have about 50mm extra so you’ll have enough to solder onto the LED
Step 8: Battery and Switch
Next thing to do is to hook-up the battery and switch to the copper wire.
1. You’ll need to remove the protective layer on the ends of the copper wire in order to solder. Use a piece of sand paper or small file
2. Next solder on one of the copper wires to the switch terminal and one of the battery wires to the other switch terminal.
3. Lastly, solder the last wire from the battery to the other copper wire
The battery should now be connected
Step 10: Making the Torch
You don’t have to do this step if you don’t want to – you could always just have a 5mm LED in his hand. It fits perfectly and would work just as well. I wanted to take it another step and made a small torch for him to hold.
1. Go through your Lego bin and find one of those small poles that fit into your Lego man’s hand. You want one with a tube fitting in the end that can fit on a small 1 x 1 clear coloured piece. The LED will sit inside this.
2. Next go even deeper into your Lego bin and find a clear, coloured 1 x 1 piece. Also find a 1 x 1 flat tile, also clear / coloured.
3. Grab the drill and make a hole through the top of the pole. Go carefully and check your work constantly to ensure you don’t drill too far. You want a hole large enough for the LED’s legs to fit into but not touch. The pole I used had 2 little slots on the side where the ends of the legs came out of.