This project is SUPER EASY. I had never soldered or worked with LEDs prior to making this.
For this year's costume, I really wanted to make LED eyelashes since I just discovered tiny surface-mounted LEDs (SMD LEDs) - normally they are used on circuit boards
After doing some research, I found Soomi Park's version. While Soomi's design is pretty amazing, I wanted mine to be worn on the top lashes and have an almost continuous line of LEDs. To do this, I used 0805 SMD LEDs (2.00 x 1.25 x 1.1 mm) instead of the regular sized 3 mm. Not only can they be spaced closer together, they are also very lightweight.
Here's a materials list:
Stranded wire (typical wire used in electronics) ***UPDATE*** Look for 0.2 mm enameled wire instead
28 or more 0805 SMD LEDs of any color
Water-soluble glue (Elmer's glue/PVA glue)
MDF or wood for the template
Surface mounted switch (optional)
Soldering stand with alligator clips (optional)
Laser cutter (optional)
Thanks to my very knowledgeable and able co-worker Davey Taylor who was willing to teach me everything I needed to know about working with LEDs.
To see how I made the paper fangs, check out the Grotesque Paper Fangs Instructable.
Step 1: Make a Template
Use the attached template and laser engrave your MDF at least 3 times to make the holes deep enough. Apply a thin line of glue and fill the holes. Using tweezers, make sure to place your LEDs with the polarities in the same direction and wait for the glue to dry a bit.
While a laser cut template is easier, you don't need a laser cutter for this part. You can print the template on stiff paper and glue the individual LEDs down. The goal is to make sure that the LEDs do not move while soldering.
The template is curved to accommodate the curve of the eyelid. If you solder them straight, they will not sit on your eyelash properly - once they are soldered into place, you will not be able to bend the curve except in the "z-axis" direction.
Step 2: Twisting the Wire and Preparing the LEDs
Taking a piece of multi-strand wire, strip off about 12 cm (5 in). Bend down all but two strands. Pinching the two exposed wires, twist the other wire until it becomes a tight helix. This method is the best way to get a really tight and uniform twisted wire. Make 4 of these.
Using your soldering iron and coat the twisted wire with a light coat of solder. After that, put a tiny bead of solder on each of the ends of the LEDs. This will make things easier to solder together later.
***UPDATE*** Look for enameled wire .2 mm thickness. Enameled wire is insulated, thin copper wire that you can TWIST together to make a thin pair of wires to power the LEDs.
To solder them, make a bead of solder and press the wire down and pull it through the bead. This will melt the insulating coating and allow conductivity.
Step 3: Soldering the LEDs
Bend the wire slightly to match the curve of the LEDs. Using tweezers, grab the wire and place it next to one of the LEDs. Press the point of the iron quickly against the bead of solder to adhere the wire. Blow on it to cool it quickly and move to the next LED. Make sure to press the wire as close to the LED as possible. (This part can be tricky, so have patience. Ask a friend to help hold down the wire if needed.)
When you have soldered everything, quickly run the iron over the wire to remove any large globs of solder. Test the connections using the coin battery to light it up.
Snip the leading ends of the wire as close as possible. Use a bead of solder to dull any sharp points.
Step 4: Removing the LED Strips
Step 5: Preparing the Wire
Solder one of the ends of the longer wire to the middle of the shorter one. Cover the connection in with shrink tubing. Solder the other end of the long wire to the battery holder. Do this twice for the positive and negative points.
Twist the end wires together and use shrink tubing to secure. Use shrink tubing to make a necklace for the button.
Optionally, you can add a flat surface-mounted button to short circuit the power which turns off the LEDs. It's a quick fix, but it works. I didn't use a resistor, but I suppose you could if you wanted to use a bigger battery. Two button cell batteries will last for most of the evening, so I didn't really want to bother.
Step 6: Solder the LED Strips to the Wires
Insert the coin battery and test which ends of the wire to solder to the LED strip. Finally, solder them together and your'e done!
To wear them, use either wig glue or spirit gum to adhere the wires to your temples. Then, use eyelash glue to adhere the LED strips to your lashes.
Here's how they look when you press the button to turn them off. A neat thing about it turning on is that it actually takes a second or more to get to full brightness.
Step 7: The Final Look
I'm including a few other pics I took with people so you can take a look at how great their costumes were, as well. The theme was Grotesque Burlesque and my costume was "conceptual porcupine" for the animal menagerie (though I probably look more like an evil, rabid version of Sonic the Hedgehog).
NOTE: It is kind of difficult to see with these on. My initial tests didn't have much of a problem, but perhaps it was because I only tested one eye (the other eye probably compensated for the blinding light). When wearing these, it looks as if everything is fogged up. Walking with them on can be dangerous if you are walking in the dark on bumpy streets. I ran into a post fence not having seen it. :P
In regular light, you can see as normal.