I made this at the TechShop. They have all the tools and wire/solder for your use. It makes this easy.
Step 1: Items Required
- 3x 1.5v small button cell batteries. (This leaves you with 4.5v power.)
- One High Brightness White LED. Mine is rated for 3.4-4v max, so we overdrive it slightly.
- One Tact Switch. Be careful on the size. I show 5mm height in the picture, but the ones I used were slightly taller.
- Light Bulbs. Small cheap ones. Burned out ones work better since they're free. The white frosted ones look better but are easier to leave marks on the inside.
- Wire. Don't need much.
- Electrical Tape
- Soldering Iron, Wire cutters/strippers, helping hands, etc.
- Hot Glue Gun
Step 2: Solder Wires onto the LED.
Step 3: Add on the switch.
Keep note that, like the LED, only two prongs on the switch matter. (In the picture, the two bottom ones and two top ones are connected, so you'll need your wires to go from one on the bottom to one on the top.) Connect one wire from the LED to the other prong.
Step 4: Connect the batteries
Once you get it working, I personally added a little solder to connect the wires to the batteries. Just note that solder will not stick to the batteries easily or reliably, I just did it to add a little extra security.
Now I wrap the batteries in electrical tape. This will keep them tight together and works fairly well. Once you do this, you should be able to press the switch easily and the light will turn on.
Step 5: Take apart a light bulb
Carefully, hold the light bulb and start trying to twist the metal off of the bottom. It's held together by a cement that isn't normally very strong. On old light bulbs, it will probably twist right off. If you use a newer light bulb, heat up the metal part with your heat gun (or any other method you can think of) and it should loosen up. Using a heat gun, I've never had any trouble taking off the metal bottom. You might have to twist it to break the wire connectors that are attacked to it, but they're small and come apart fairly easily.
One you separate the two pieces, I use a pair of pliers to scrape off some of the cement. It comes off pretty easily.
On the bottom of the light bulb, you'll see a glass pole coming out of the center. You can apply pressure (I use the table) and break this off pretty easily. After that, you'll need to find a way to break the glass on the bottom carefully. Some techshops have a glass cutter that will make this an easy task, but if not take a screwdriver or pick and gently chip at it.
As expected, this is the most difficult part. You need to break the glass carefully enough that it doesn't break too much and make it so you can't reattach it. You also need to be especially careful because if you break pieces into the light bulb, they will scratch the white frosting. (Even touching it will leave marks. Unless your really REALLY gentle, the wires inside will scratch it. (I haven't been able to make one perfectly without these scratches yet, as you can see in the next step, but small ones generally don't matter.)
Step 6: Insert the LED
Start adding hot glue liberally inside the metal container. I filled all the extra space with it just to help hold everything in place. Test the switch make sure it still works and insert the glass. (If you want, you can twist the wires to change the distance it goes into the light bulb. It should be about in the center to look right.)
While the glue is hot, press the glass into the metal. I used my heat gun to make sure the glue was hot and ensure it didn't break the glass. It should slide in pretty easily. You can light it up now and make sure it looks ok during this part. With the heat gun, there is no real urgency, so you can adjust the LED wires to position it however looks the best.
Step 7: Add a bead of hot glue to the outside to finish it
Now you should have a light bulb that lights up by simply pressing the button. I don't suggest putting it in your mouth as I did, but if you do, make sure you clean it really well. :)