I had this idea floating around my head for some time now, at least a year if not longer. But I was always too busy with other projects to make it. One evening few weeks ago as I was out on then balcony enjoying the warm summer breeze and thought how nice it would be to finally make myself a wind chime with lights. It is a really simple idea, just combine a solar light with a wind chime and watch the lights dance in the breeze in time with the chimes.
I've included a video, but unfortunately my camera doesn't pick up the light well :(
Step 1: What You Will Need
Small solar garden light ( I picked one up at a dollar store.)
Wind chimes or parts of a wind chime, namely the metal rods (you can get these cheat at a dollar store)
Extra LEDs I used two, a blue and a green one
Glass beads, a piece of beach glass and wire
String and a hanger
Large sewing needle
Wire and soldering iron (or if you are like me and hate soldering -conductive thread)
Step 2: Prepare Metal Rods
I was able to fit three metal rods under the base of the solar lights. I had to cut them so that their length decreased proportionally. I drilled two holes across from one another in the end of each rod (1 cm from the end) to hang them. I drilled some additional larger holes along and around the length of the rods for the light to come out.
Step 3: Prepare Lights
The solar light that I bought had only one LED but I needed an LED for each rod. So I opened the light housing and added the two addition LEDs in parallel. (As you can see I used conductive thread to connect the LEDs, this is not ideal but I just really don't like/am not very good at soldering).
Step 4: Prepare Lights
Since I used conductive thread instead of wire to connect the lights I had to wrap it in tape to prevent short circuiting. Once that was done, I put the light cover back on and arranged the LEDs around the base so that they were equally spaced and all pointed down. I used tape to hold them in place.
Step 5: Cover
Since all this tape that I have been using looks really messy I made a cover to put over it. This is also to protect it from the weather. I cut a circle from a plastic lid. Cut three holes for the LEDS and poked smaller holes one on each side of these for the string to attach the metal rods. I coloured the plastic black so that it would match the rest of the light housing. I also needed a hole in the centre for the string holding the beads and wind catcher.
Step 6: Hanger
I attached string to the top of the solar light for a hanger. I tied the string to the two knobs where the screws fit in and added a key ring to the string for hanging.
Step 7: String the Rods
I attached the metal rods to the plastic cover with string on each side of the LED hole. The rod sits about a half a centimeter below to allow it to swing freely. I also threaded a thicker string through the centre of the solar light housing (through the original hole for the LED) and through the plastic cover. I secured it with tape on the inside of the solar light housing as this string will hold the glass beads and wind catcher.
Step 8: Finish Up
To finish up tape the plastic cover to the light housing, make sure the rods fit directly under an LED. Add one or two glass beads to the centre string (depending on the length of the rods). For a wind catcher I used a flat piece of beach glass and wrapped it with wire to make a loop to hang it from. The wind catcher should sit below the rods.
A few thoughts:
I probably could have added a few more holes in the rods to more light to shine out, but I wasn't sure if it would effect the sound too much.
Bamboo could be used instead of metal if you don't like the 'clangy' sound, but one advantage of using metal is that the light inside the rod is reflected nicely along it's length which you wouldn't get with the bamboo.
Another option to change the tone of the chimes is to use a wood clapper instead of the glass beads.
You can hang some smaller glass beads around the outside edge to reflect more light.
I'm not totally happy with the way the light housing looks the tape job looks a bit too sloppy to me, perhaps fitting something over top to cover it (but not the solar panel) would be better.