This is a small instructable on how to make a bedside lamp or a nightlight out of a Millennium Falcon model or any other model of that matter. With this kind of instructable the possibilities are endless. I chose to make a nightlight that gives of a soft glow because it's ment to stand on top of a closet in my son's bedroom while he is asleep (so we don't need a powerfull light there).
Step 1: Chosing a Scale Model
I chose a cheaper model of the Millennium Falcon (Revel Easykit) that doesn't need any glue and can be clicked together pretty easy. It's also already painted so one less job for me. This particular model cost me around 40 euros and I got this from a local hobby/model store. The point is that you can use any model you like.
Step 2: LED There Be Light
First off I want to make it clear I'm just a bloke with a soldering iron. My wiring and skill with electronics is not something you want to depend your life upon. Note that I fully tested my little project and judged it safe enough for in my kids bedroom.
Since this is a spaceship I thought it would be cool to replicate the smaller lights in the fuselage. I did this with optic fibers. Small plastic tubes that, when you light one side the other side will emit that light no matter how much you bend the fiber. Awesome stuff! I also used LED's for the enigine lights and the spotlights in front of the ship. Thats's alot of lights! This step needs some calculating because we need a few transistors that ensure the LED's will not overload.
- Diffuse LED's: LED's with a wide spread of light. I used these to replicate the engine light and the interior.
- Water clear (spot) LED's: LED's with a very small spread of light. These I used to light up the optic fibers.
- Optic fibers 0,75mm-1mm: I ended up using about 3 meters.
- Supply voltage: I used an old 12V adapter I had in my partsbin.
- Resistors: I used 120 ohm transistors in my setup.
- Tinfoil and cardboard: To make the engine compartment.
Figuring out what resistors you'll need depends on the supply voltage and the amount of LED's you will use. Ad the LED's total voltage in that formula and you'll know the ohm value of your resistor(s).
Since every color LED has a different voltage (I used white and blue) and you might use a different supply voltage you will need to make your own calculation based on your situation. A great help is LED calculator.
Note that I used a slightly higher value resistor because I didn't want my LED's to shine at full brightness. I was aiming for a soft glow. I also pared up my LED's in 4 strings of 3 LED's each. If you look at the example diagram you can see that every string of 3 LED's has it's own resistor.
Step 3: Fuselage Lights
I started drilling 1mm holes in the fuselage at the spots that needed the small lights. I tried to group some lights together in paterns that looked good on the ship. I ended up drilling quite a few holes. When that was done I stuck the optic fibers in from the outside. I left 1cm sticking out, I would cut these extra lengths of later. On the inside I left enough length to work with in the next step. Then I put on a dab of hot glue to fix the fibers in place.
I did the same for the spotlights in the front of the ship. I drilled a slightly bigger hole and hotglued the LED's in place.
I bundeled a maximum of 8 optic fibers together and used electrical wire as sleeving. Just get rid of the internal smaller wires and cut off about 2cm. Put the bundeled optic fibers in one end of the hollow electrical wire and the LED in the other end. This way the bundel of optic fibers hold together nicely and the LED light will shine right on top of the endpoints of the fibers.
Step 4: Engine Lights and Wiring
To make space for the lightbox that will light up the engine I had to cut away a bit of plastic on the model itself. After that was done I made a triangular shaped box of cardboard. I lined the inside with tin foil for maximum reflection of the LED's. Inside the box I used 3 diffuse LED's (2 blue and 1 white) to replicate the bluish engine lighting.
Finaly I wired up all the LED's and transistors and testen everything. The inside of the ship looked like spaghetti but it worked just fine! To make sure the LED's lighting up the optic fibers didn't leak out light I taped them up with duct tape.
Step 5: Making a Base
Halfway through this project I realised the model needed some sort of base or pedestal to stand on. This way I could hide the cables and the adapter. I thought about this and tried making a wooden base. That just didn't look right, it had nothing to do with the spaceship theme. I ended up chopping off the bottom side of a plastic bucket and turning it upside down. Then I gave it a quick sanding and glued on a lot of bits and parts I had in my partsbin. I glued on a laptopfan, fishingtackle equipment, transistors, spacers, electrical wire, cooling fins and what not. I even chopped up a few earbuds and glued them on. After the glue dried I spraypainted everything with a primer and some subtle grey colors. And voila: we'v got a spacy-looking landingzone!
Lastly I drilled a hole through one of the spaceship legs and ran electrical wire through it. With a dab of hotglue I fixed the Falcon on it's landingzone.
Step 6: The Result
I'm quite happy about the result. The glow is just right. Not to bright and not to dull. Although I had a hard time making pictures in total darkness I hope they give you the right idea.