Introduction: How to Build This Amazing Spinning Rainbow Light Wheel!!!

Picture of How to Build This Amazing Spinning Rainbow Light Wheel!!!

On this instructable I will show you how to make a really cool spinning rainbow light wheel!

This is my entry into 'LET IT GLOW' contest.

I made this spinning rainbow light wheel from what ever the parts I have sitting in my shed. This project is a bit difficult to build, but the part are easy to get, I brought some part from the electronic store a while ago and I reused some parts.

This project not that expensive to build, it really depends if you reused parts or buy new parts. This project cost me about less than £10.

The spinning rainbow light wheel can be used in stores, business , parties, disco or advertisement to grab people's attention, or it can just be used for fun.

Please note that I am only 15 years old and I am not very good at grammar so if you find some parts of the instructable confusing, please let me know and I will try fix it.

Please beware this instructable involves building a high-speed device which can harm people if they touch this device during operation so I am NOT responsible if anybody gets injured by this device.

Ooh, just look at that beautiful rainbow... More great pictures on step 10!!

Step 1: Requirements

Picture of Requirements
The parts you will need...
  • Super bright red LED
  • Super bright orange LED
  • Super bright yellow LED
  • Super bright green LED
  • Super bright blue LED
  • 7 1K resistors
  • Solder (I used lead-free type)
  • Breadboard
  • glue sticks
  • small motor (you can find those motors inside a VCR)
  • holder for the small motor (I used a small spool)
  • Aluminum tape
  • lots of wires
  • Thin flexible wire
  • VHS cassette that you don't mind destroying
  • Masking tape
  • 6v power supply

This is all optional parts if you want a flashing spinning light wheel...
  • 555 timer IC chip
  • 4.7uF (or similar) capacitor
  • 4.7K resistor
  • 10K potentiometer
  • 3 2N5551 NPN transistors or similar

The tools you will/may need...
  • Temperature controlled soldering iron/gun
  • Wire stripper
  • Wire cutter
  • Hot glue gun
  • Long-nosed pliers
  • screwdrivers
  • a tool for cutting veroboard into pieces (I use dremel)

The abilities you need are...
  • Good using soldering iron/gun.
  • Read schematics.

Step 2: Hack the VHS Cassette

Picture of Hack the VHS Cassette

Find a VHS cassette that you don't mind destroying it.
First take apart cassette with a screwdriver or you might have to break it open with a hammer or something if there are security screws holding the cassette case together.
One you got the case open, take out a spool that has the less or no tape on it, if there is some tape on the spool, take it off and do what ever you like to do with the tape.
Now you need to break the clear part of the spool off the white part of the spool and be careful not to damage the white part of the spool.
And you should end up with the white part of the spool, that will be used to support the LED's.

Step 3: Attach the Spool Onto the Motor

Picture of Attach the Spool Onto the Motor

Once you got the white part of the spool out of the VHS cassette, you need to make a hole on the center of the spool for the motor's rotor to fit through, I used my soldering iron's tip to melt a hole on the spool.
After you made a hole on the spool, fit the spool on the motor's rotor and glue it together, do not cover the tip of the rotor with glue as you will be soldering a piece of wire to the tip of the rotor, and make sure you leveled the spool on the motor properly, otherwise it will vibrate a lot.

Step 4: Attach Wires on the Spool

Picture of Attach Wires on the Spool

This is the difficult part, giving the LED's a power source while on the spool and spinning.
First I soldered a piece of wire on the rotor of the motor and I soldered another piece of wire on the motor case, this will be the positive power input.
I made two aluminum rings using aluminum tape (you can use one ring if you like) and taped it on the bottom of the spool and I attached the wires to both aluminum rings, that will be the negative power output.

Step 5: Install the LED's on the Spool

Picture of Install the LED's on the Spool

After you solder the wires on the motor and taped the aluminum foil tape on the spool, it is now time to install the LED's on the spool...
Cut out two pieces of 3X12 veroboard from a big piece of veroboard using the dremel tool or other cutting tools.
Solder LED's, resistors, wires, and cut track like in this diagram below, and watch out for the polarity of the LED's!
Once you have done all of the soldering, glue the veroboard with LED's onto the spool, and make sure you glue the veroboard with LED's and wires very well onto the spool otherwise thing may go flying straight off the spool and hit other things or people if they are close the device.

Step 6: Adding the Holder Onto the Motor

Picture of Adding the Holder Onto the Motor

I used a small spool that was once used to hold wires but it is now used to support the motor.
The core of the small spool was slightly wider than the motor so I simply wrapped about 10 turns of masking tape around the motor and it fits smugly into the core of the small spool, and I put some glue between the motor and the small spool.
I had also soldered two wires to the motor's leads.

Step 7: Making an Electrical Contact Between Aluminum Tape Rings to Wire

Picture of Making an Electrical Contact Between Aluminum Tape Rings to Wire

This is another difficult part, making an electrical contact between aluminum foil tape rings to the wire without causing so much friction...
I will tell/show you how I did mine, I used some thin flexible steel wire to make an electrical contact with the foil tape.
First I made a small hole on the motor's holder and made a loop on the flexible wire and put two ends of the flexible wire in the hole on the motor's holder and make sure the flexible wire is gently touching the foil tape and glued the flexible wire in place and I soldered a piece of wire on one end of the flexible wire.
I also supported the flexible wire with some pieces of wood that is glued onto the motor's holder next to the flexible wire to stop the flexible wire wiggling everywhere. And I did the same thing to the other flexible wire.

Step 8: Build the Circuit

Picture of Build the Circuit

The 555 timer oscillator is optional if you want some cool flashing effects.
Read the schematic carefully and build the circuit on the breadboard or on the veroboard, your choice, I used the breadboard.
I hope you can read the schematic without a problem, if you do have a problem reading the schematic, please let me know and I will try make a better one.

If you do use the 555 timer oscillator, you may get some very interesting flashing effects.
If you don't use the 555 timer oscillator, you may get just a circle rainbow.

Step 9: Testing... Testing...

Picture of Testing... Testing...

I finally got the spinning rainbow light wheel built, now it is time to test it to see if it works!
Testing... Testing... 3... 2... 1... Failed...
Damm, the LED's still glows, but it is not spinning!
It did not take long until I found the problem, the flexible wire that is making an electrical contact on the outer aluminum tape ring is causing way to much friction and it is preventing the motor from spinning! So I had done some adjustments on the flexible wire and it is now causing less friction and the motor can now spin, but one set of LED's are not glowing! I had kept making adjustments on the flexible wire that is making an electrical contact on the outer aluminum tape ring for more than 20 minutes, but I can never get it perfect. I wish I had some giant washers... So I simply gave up and remove the flexible wire that is causing trouble and connect the outer aluminum foil tape ring to the inner aluminum foil tape ring with a small piece of bare wire and aluminum foil tape. I have also modified the the 555 timer oscillator circuit, so now both sets of LED's can be controlled from one negative output.
After I got the problem fixed, I tested the spinning rainbow light wheel again and...
IT WORKS!!! Both sets of LED's are glowing and the motor is spinning the spool fast... IT WORKS!!

Step 10: Spinning Light Wheel in Operation

Picture of Spinning Light Wheel in Operation

Now I finally got the spinning light wheel working!!!
If you just want a circle rainbow, connect the LED light sets to a 6v or 9v power source.
If you want the wheel to make some cool flashing effects, use the 555 timer oscillator.
Whether the light spinning wheel is flashing or not, it still looks awesome and it is even far more awesome if you operate it in the dark!!!

If you like the pictures and the instructable, please vote! Thank you!

Oho... Beautiful rainbow... Enjoy the photos!!


Michael_Bell (author)2012-03-28

now to put it on a fan

thats what i was thinking !

minerug (author)2011-09-23

Rainbow Dash would approve!

wintergoat (author)minerug2012-03-19

If I had the parts to build one, it would make my room 20% cooler. To Plasmana: Really cool project, I just wouldn't have the patience to build one.

harrisonic (author)2011-11-17

nice!! thumbs Up

pmonica (author)2011-08-29

could u be plz be clearer on where the wires from the centre of the spool go???this part s a bit difficult to understand.......

pmonica (author)2011-08-22

wow,,,,,it s really cool!!!

7samuel (author)2010-10-07

this is one of the parts that i get lost in can you go over it with more detail?

ice_k99 (author)2010-02-07

Very good job on the descriptive step by step instructions Plasmana.  I found it easy to follow in some areas but hard in others. 

Is the aluminum foil all negatively charged? 

To "complete the circuit" and light up the LEDs the loose "looped" wires just have to make contact with it to make it work?

Why were you trying to make two separate rings (I am wondering about the thought process)?

Very good idea.  You should check into "brush" motors and how they made electric motors work when they were first invented.  The "loop" and "washer" idea is not that bad!  Better friction loss than what I was thinking of doing for my own project.

DamonTsao (author)2010-02-04

Cool !
But i think not perfact.
you can search about anvii.
they are true rainbow wheel light.

and-reas (author)2009-12-03


comodore (author)2008-05-23

COOL!!! I like LEDs and everything that has to do whit them. Good idea! The circuit whit the 555 timer could be simpler. rate:***** +vote

Plasmana (author)comodore2008-06-02

Thank you for the ratings and the vote. :-)

chelloo_parazit (author)Plasmana2009-11-25

Hey  man, very nice instructable , but I have a question. How does the NE555 timer works? I mean how can you set it to do different programs like generating impulses each second for a minute, then one impulse each 1 ms for a minute?
Thanks for the answer.

Human_after_all (author)2009-10-11

How does the aluminum tape conduct anything? doesnt the adhesive block the electricity?

Arooj (author)2009-10-11

itx great.....!!

but can yew tell meh the formation of pulsating dc using 555 timer ic??

GMa (author)2009-05-09

You can get the same kind of effect with a cheap 1-dollar LED spinning top. I did several photographs with this stuff several years ago. Results were quite interesting but lacked that DIY building experimental mood.

Rainbow_Han (author)2008-08-12

thats awesome!

Plasmana (author)Rainbow_Han2008-09-09


DYLEGO (author)Plasmana2008-12-02

the problem with this is if you put the battery on the spinny part, the wires to the motor will twist up. if you put it on the bottom, th led wires will spin together...

godfreyandthandi (author)DYLEGO2009-01-26

no it has contacts that touch the spinny part.

FreshPineSent (author)2008-09-04

I remember as a young kid, my dad an I would break open old VHS tapes and make spider web like constructions in the house by tying one end of the tape to something and running around with the spool.

Plasmana (author)FreshPineSent2008-09-05

That is cool!

santy22 (author)Plasmana2008-09-09

Sweet, i used to do that, but the fact that YOUR DAD did it is awesome!

bmpa (author)2008-06-20

You mention large washers for contact. I have a suggestion ... try plates from a dead hard drive. Actually, from a hard drive you could get the motor, the plates, some cool aluminum washers, and some movable contacts that could make your project simpler and flashier. Very good design, and clear instructions. Keep up the good work

Plasmana (author)bmpa2008-06-20

I never thought of using dead hard drive for contact, thank you, I will use dead hard drives when I get one (I don't have any at the moment). Also I am glad that you like it.

wierd idiot (author)Plasmana2008-08-28

BUT you will need a stepper driver for the hard drive motor. :) not sure but i think Jaycar has some driver kits. Very nice instructable. Very easy to follow.

Plasmana (author)wierd idiot2008-08-28

Yeah, probably, I'll think of something else... Thanks!

wierd idiot (author)Plasmana2008-08-28

Glad i could help. :)

puffyfluff (author)2008-08-06

Great work on aligning the LEDs. That works really well.

puffyfluff (author)2008-08-06

This is really cool.

oddblob (author)2008-07-05

cool would it not have been easier to power the l.e.ds from a few button cells on the spinning spool itself, rather than use the contacts? ingenious solution though...

Plasmana (author)oddblob2008-07-05

Yes, I could have done that but I don't have any button cell batteries though.

GorillazMiko (author)2008-05-22

AWESOME JOB! I really want to try this out. It's very easy to understand like Brennn10 said, but looks a little hard, kind of. Nice job! (added to favorites)

Plasmana (author)GorillazMiko2008-06-20

I am glad that you like it and find it easy to understand GorillazMiko.

MdP1632 (author)2008-06-14

Awesome. This is very similar to the instructable I posted for the Get the LED Out challenge. This one is a lot better thouh. Fantastic job.

Plasmana (author)MdP16322008-06-14

Can you show me your instructable? I like to see it.

Magicfap (author)2008-06-07

great!!! looks awesome!!

Plasmana (author)Magicfap2008-06-08

I am glad that you like it!

Lego man (author)2008-05-22

Looks like you made the "Let it glow" prize!

Plasmana (author)Lego man2008-06-04


leebryuk (author)2008-06-02

Well done. Keep on writing instructables.

Plasmana (author)leebryuk2008-06-04

I am, I am about to post another another instructable that will be called "Amazing plasma globe tricks that you never knew before!!!".

awoodcarver (author)2008-05-22

Very cool !!! now a vid of it and a flashing one so I can have flash backs to 1967 and the Monterey Pop Festival ....your schematic of the circuit and the finished pic make this clear and some what easy to follow maybe a 4-6 on building difficulty for me

Plasmana (author)awoodcarver2008-06-02

Thank you for telling me that the photo of the schematic is clear, and I will try modify step 4 and 6.

awoodcarver (author)Plasmana2008-06-02

No need to modify steps 4 and 6 I am using the 4-6 as a scale on how hard or easy it would be for me to build it ..I am somewhat of a klutz on making these small electrical things ....but never have a problem carving very small things this is a very good Instructable and with some help from my son who is better at the small electrical things would be easy

Plasmana (author)awoodcarver2008-06-03

I see... I hope your son would be successful on building small electrical things! I am quite amazed that you can carve small things... I am no good at carving, I guess it is because I don't have the right tools for carving, all I have is a x-acto knife and a a dremel. Well good luck with your carving!

Itsgoofytime (author)2008-05-25

The 555 timer is SIMPLE. go to if you need more info on 555 timers.

Plasmana (author)Itsgoofytime2008-06-02

I know a lot about the 555 timers.

Itsgoofytime (author)Plasmana2008-06-02

They are surprisingly versatile.

About This Instructable




Bio: ––––––––––––––––––––––– "Energy cannot be created nor destroyed!" –––––––––––––––––––––––
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