Instructables

How To: Ping Pong Ball Lights

FeaturedContest Winner
Picture of How To: Ping Pong Ball Lights
At some point last semester I realized that ping pong balls make great diffusers and look really cool when they are glowing. Next we concluded that a hundred glowing ping pong balls would look even cooler. It was at about this point I decided that my apartment was in dire need of some ping pong ball lights.

In this instructable I'll show you a quick way to turn an ordinary string of Christmas lights into a great party decoration.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Gather Materials

For this Instructable you'll need a few things.

Parts:
  • A string of Christmas lights
  • A ping pong ball for each light on the string

Tools:
  • Drill and drill bit (or other implement to make a hole in a ping pong ball)
  • Hot glue and glue gun

When researching this project I found that you can get a gross(144) of ping pong balls for under $20 including shipping on eBay.

Make sure the string of lights you use is in good condition. Check for any electrical shorts or overheating bulbs before starting.
I think these lights look really great! Now we just gotta make the strand look as good as the lights. I know the sell white strands, but could the strands be painted easily, such as with spray paint?
you could wrap the cord in embroidery floss. It's a lil time consuming and labor intensive but it looks great and there are tons of colors to choose from : )
To paint the light strand wires: before putting ping pong balls on, push the glass bulbs (only) into a sheet of styrofoam, then spray paint the rest. When dry, rearrange so that you can spray any spots you missed the first time. The embroidery floss sounds clever, but wouldn't you then have to worry about wire breakage > fire? Still waiting for someone to translate POI for us. Wish I could take credit for this idea, but I saw it on HGTV or something similar a few years ago on a holiday special.

Use straws it to size with slits on the length of the straw. They. Ome in all sorts of. Colors, some even bend.

doesn't styrofoam melt when spray painted???
 ...not enough to actually melt it to the light. It's not like it's a hot melt either. It just gets soggy like bread basically. The styrofoam is temporary so that really shouldn't matter. o.0
zani872 years ago
Very cool project, I've done it today, for my boyfriend's birthday :) It was cca. 15-20 minutes, I bought glue pistol, but I didn't even need to use it, cutting an X shape on them hold it just as well! Thank you for the idea, and for the others too for making it easier to complete!!
lolson1 zani877 months ago
I used the X also and it worked well and was fast!
Great project.  I saw this somewhere else and we did a bunch of orange ones for Halloween.  Very cool glow on the front porch.

For drilling, I put the balls in an egg crate and just slid it around on the drill press work surface.  Worked great and I could just throw a handful into the crate and then dump them after drilling...no need for careful handling.
good idea...
Great idea!
lolson17 months ago
Love, love, love it!!! Love the fact that it is a diffused lite...so much softer. Thanks a bunch!!
rutwikzapake7 months ago
goood idea
Macon Bacon8 months ago
I think the best way to hold the ball is to drill a hole into a 2 by 4 that is smaller than the ping pong ball & just hold the ball with 2 fingers to drill the hole.
 they would be cool if they had an LED throwie in them so that you could throw them
The L.E.D. Pingie!
rrrmanion2 years ago
if you have the equipment, you could blow-mold the ping pong balls, then just file it into proper shape or something like that. might look nicer
vincent75203 years ago
Nice !
Very nice iii… :))
DON'T try to burn holes in them, leaves a disgusting scent that lingers for days.
heh, sounds like you're speaking from experience ;-)
You have no idea, the smell is like no other. At the very least don't try it inside. I feel like i lost a few days of my life every time I split one open.
komecake4 years ago
  Woohoo! I randomly decided I would finally do this today for my mom for her back porch. I bought LED lights instead as they are brigther and less of a fire hazard. I got them at Home Depot for $11 for a 60 strand that has 16 different functions. Excessive? Yes, but fun. :D

 I bought the ping pong balls at Wallie Mart for $8 for 36 of them and a 15 pack of golf balls with holes for $2. Obviously that's not quite enough. I need another 15 pack, but I like how it's turned out so far! :)

 
 
SMALL 1.jpgSMALL 2.jpg
  I forget to mention that we also did not drill holes. We found that cutting a small "X" with an exacto knife and pushing it on was much easier to glue on and faster than drilling holes.
Hmm. Sounds like you made an easy I'ble into an even easier I'ble. haha. Nice. I want to do this. Don't even have a use for them. Just want to do it. Haha.
yeah! I like your $2 holey golf ball idea! The holes are already there, and from the pic, I can see it makes a cool, almost disco ball effect!
alxg373 years ago
Do ping pong balls come in colors or did you paint them? You show all white ping pong balls.
The cool thing is you don't have to paint them. They glow they color of the light that's inside them.
nickabc1233 years ago
soldering iron to make a small hole- emphasis on small- then using a drill bit about the same size as the light (drilling in reverse). you push the light through then pull to tighten. dont even need glue.
mecenia3 years ago
Hi!
Your decoration with ping pong balls are so amazing!! so cute and beautiful *-*
i'll do one tomorrow and one i'll give to my friend.
Another.. i'll put in my bedroom for light in the night.
thanks for the idea and guide!
yellow21213 years ago
Don't know if this has been mentioned but this needs a big be careful warning. Most ping-pong balls are made from celluloid. Celluloid is highly flammable. Just like movie film from the 20's and 30's, touch a match to it and whoosh, even water won't put it out. Dollar store balls may be made from plastic and a safe choice, if you test by burning one watch your eyebrows.
mojo134 years ago
 Hey, I just made these! They worked out so well! thanks for th instructable!
mojo134 years ago
DasBus4 years ago
 I just put one of these together today, using a battery operated light set.  Looks AWESOME!!!!  Thanks for the idea!
brain_bomb4 years ago
 If you go as cheap as possible on the lights and balls you have an extreme fire hazard on your hands and you've spent $5 more then the store bought version.  If you do it right and buy LED lights you've spent $25 more than the store bought version.  I have to say that when an instructable costs more than the store bought option and is more dangerous than the comparable store option it's not one to do.  If you are intent on doing this, make sure to use the LEDs.  More expensive but you can leave the room for bathroom breaks and not have to worry your house will burn down.
  LOL @ leaving the room for bathroom breaks. I agree though. And LED lights aren't $25. I got mine for $11. They had a good set for $6!!! But I wanted the ones that had 16 different blinking functions to satisfy my ADDness. Hahaha.
 Sweet, the prices are going down.  I thought $25 was a little ludicrous for christmas lights.  And I absolutely know what you mean about the blinking functions.
HeidiJJJJ4 years ago
Use add random google eyes and use as a Halloween decoration.
aksaks4 years ago
Thanks for the wonderful idea.
I got 'my balls' from a Dollar store (he he he), 6 for a buck, used a power drill and selected a drill bit size such that I did not need any hot glue at all, just some twisting of the ball to push the bulb into the hole (lots of squeaking noise though). I used regular (colored) Christmas serial lights (incandescent).

Initially I was concerned about over heating and a potential fire hazard, so tested couple of them while gradually increasing the time they were on; nothing adverse happened. Now I leave them on for about 5 hrs. I use them in the patio so I am not overly concerned of a fire hazard. Also mine stays exposed to direct sunlight during day time.
PS: The seams on the ping pong balls give it an exotic look or are distracting depending on the 'eyes of the beholder'. I purposefully randomized the seams while I was drilling holes.

Since there is a great variation in the lights, ping pong balls, duration of use and location, I recommend each user to test it before leaving it on for long periods. Its better to be safe than sorry.
IMG_2543.JPG
Great idea. Creative, cheap and easy.
thalden4 years ago
Just did this. I salvaged a fully-functional 35 light string, which worked out nicely for buying a 36-pack of balls.
I reduced the risk of fire by aiming a fan at the light string. Since cellulose isn't a great insulator, this keeps the lights themselves cool as well. It also induces a swaying motion that can be quite hypnotic, in addition to making a nice sound if hung on a wall.

Remember, though: Christmas lights shouldn't be left running for long periods of time, or unattended, regardless of any modifications you may have made.
Pro

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?

close

PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!