Introduction: The USB Powered LED CD Lamp

Picture of The USB Powered LED CD Lamp

The USB powered LED CD lamp is a very useful gadget. It's powered by the USB port, so you don't need any external power supply. The stiff mounting wire, I used acts as a gooseneck and lets you bend the light source in different angles and directions.

Step 1: Get the Parts

Picture of Get the Parts

Here is a list of the parts you'll need to make this lamp.

4 CDs or DVDs (and if you're rich, you can even use Blu-ray discs or HD DVDs)

7 5mm White or warmwhite LEDs, I used warmwhite, because that I'm tired of the cold light, you get from the ordinary white LEDs. (I've posted some pictures, so that you can see the difference between the white and the warmwhite LEDs)

7 Resistors for the LEDs. I calculated, that my resistors should be 68 ohms. you can find a very good resistor calculator here.

Some electrical mounting wire. Should be the stiff type (the one with only one thick cupper conductor)

5 AA batteries preferably Duracell, cause they're the heaviest (the batteries are just there to act as a counterweight. Without them, the lamp would just tip over and fall).

A switch (optional)

Some ordinary hookup wire.

A USB male A connector with cord (I got mine from a broken webcam)

Some wire without insulation.

Step 2: Prepare the CD That Holds the LEDs

Picture of Prepare the CD That Holds the LEDs

Drill the 7 5mm holes for the LEDs. Use a pair of compasses to mark, where you'll drill the holes. Remember, that when you drill the holes, do it on foil side. If you don't, you may rip off some of the foil. Move your mouse over the yellow boxes to view instructions.

Step 3: Mount the LEDs and the Resistors on the CD

Picture of Mount the LEDs and the Resistors on the CD

Now, mount the LEDs and resistors. Move your mouse over the yellow boxes to view instructions.

Step 4: Mount the 2nd CD and the Stiff Wire

Picture of Mount the 2nd CD and the Stiff Wire

Glue the second CD and the stiff wire onto the CD, where the LEDs are mounted. This is simply done by using a hot glue gun. Move your mouse over the yellow boxes to view instructions.

Step 5: Start Making the Base

Picture of Start Making the Base

Now, start making the base. The pictures will guide you trough this process. Move your mouse over the yellow boxes to view instructions.

Step 6: The Counterweights

Picture of The Counterweights

Now, it's time to mount the counterweights (the 4 of the 5 batteries). Simply glue them on with one of my favorite weapons: The Hot Glue Gun.

Step 7: Final Assembly

Picture of Final Assembly

In this step, I'll show you how to mount the rest of the things: the last counterweight, the switch, the USB cable and the wiring.

Step 8: Plug 'n' Light

Picture of Plug 'n' Light

Now hook your lamp up to the USB port and have fun. Hope you enyoyed this Instructable. Leave me a comment below.


cvolckmar (author)2011-11-09

I have a challenge here. I have a power source that is 53v DC and I want to use 7 Super bright LEDs. I'm new to electricity and I think that it will blow the LEDs since they run on a few volts each. What size resistors do I need use? And where do I install them? I need to use the 53v source. Please show calculations. THANK YOU in advance =]

no_light (author)cvolckmar2012-05-08

add the voltages of the LEDs
subtract from the 53v source
divide with the LED current , most LEDs have 20mA so it is .02 A


VitoMakes (author)no_light2015-03-09

Best way in your case is to put them in series (i.e. you chain the LEDs and then you add a resistor). But I'd discourage you using that power supply for this application.

High brigthness LED could draw significantly more than 20mA...

Let's suppose you have 7 LED rated for 1.5V @100mA

You would need a resistor sized like this:

R = (53V - 7*1.5V)/100mA = 425 ohm

So your LED will use this power

P = V * I =7*1.5V * 100mA = 1,05 W

and your resistor will use

P = (53 - 7*1,5) * 100mA = 4,25W ...

That means that you would not blow your LEDs but you'll probably blow your resistor, or if you have a resistor rated at least 5W, you'll end up with a heater more then a lamp, as the resistor will use 4 times more power than the LEDs...

For this kind of application you should use a DC/DC converter, but it's definitely no subject for a novice...

MarcussLilProjects (author)2014-05-11

I really like this project. Really creative and elegant. I've made a similar project on my blog and featured you.

rimpelido (author)2013-02-11

Does this double the consumption of the energy from the laptop or desktop?

sherryk (author)2012-09-28

leds r always connected in parallel.with a 1k resistor each,try in series,they wont good in this.

nemanja92 (author)2011-10-05

hello can someone tel me why i can powered Led lights by USB???

taurusguy88 (author)2010-02-05

well i made my usb lamp,
but i connected all the led in series
but the pro is i get a notice on my pc
power serge on usb ...
whts to do with tht ??

kresimir (author)taurusguy882011-09-22

you short connected something

nodoubtman (author)2011-08-21

Hello! : How do you get 68 Ohms resistor ??

So : 7 LEDs 20 mA each, 3.5 V each to run, 5 V usb max.

R = (5 - 3.5) / (0.02 * 7) = 10.71 Ohms near value = 12 Ohms. Which is far away from 68 Ohms resistor.

Can you give me your trick? :)

Have a great day! :)

DrChill (author)2008-05-23

Just a suggestion. You may need just one resistor. Just wire it so its between each LED and power. I'm guessing a 1/2 or 1 watt resistor should do the trick... It will save a little solder and 1/2 dozen parts ... Nice job. : )

Handsome-Ryan (author)DrChill2008-05-23

It is a bad idea to wire LEDs in parallel as you are sugesting.

I'll quote from The Electronics Club:

Connecting several LEDs in parallel with just one resistor shared between them is generally not a good idea.
If the LEDs require slightly different voltages only the lowest voltage LED will light and it may be destroyed by the larger current flowing through it. Although identical LEDs can be successfully connected in parallel with one resistor this rarely offers any useful benefit because resistors are very cheap and the current used is the same as connecting the LEDs individually.

Yeah, I've heard that to, and that's why I didn't do it.

Are the led in parallel or series ??

thank you!

"If the LEDs require slightly different voltages -only- the lowest voltage LED will light " No. And how much is 'slightly' anyway ? Is 2v 'slightly' different than 3v ? As long as the resistance is appropriate for each LED and the resistor can handle the load, there's no problem. Since this DIY uses the -same- LEDs, they need the -same- current, so there's no problem. And, as the last line of the quote says,"...and the current used is the same as connecting the LEDs individually." Thats my point. Its the same. It's the same current unless the LEDs -are- different, and if they ARE different then use different resistors, not 7 of the same ... Try it yourself. Its easy to test and see who is right here... I like elegant solutions, not wasting parts, and not scaring people away from simpler solutions without understanding why. If you like wasting parts, I have lots of projects for you to try ... ; )

OK, then do it your way. And what projects could I try to waste parts.

You should post up some instructables of your own. A.I. and I both have posted instructables where we wired circuits for LEDs. Not that simple LED circuits are that challenging but you might be able to demonstrate what conditions are required to use a single resistor safely.

DrChill (author)Handsome-Ryan2008-05-28

Thanks for the suggestion. AI's project is a good candidate for using one resistor for all ( not each ) LED. As long as each LED has the same specs, and the resistor is properly sized, it would work. I started playing around with using the PC power supply as a source of power for projects including an LED Lamp.... I'll keep you posted. Regards.

Handsome-Ryan (author)DrChill2008-05-26

I'm not scaring people off, I'm stating the generally accepted rule of circuit building.

DrChill (author)Handsome-Ryan2008-05-26

Sorry. The Electronics club doesn't have it quite right.

Its NOT a generally accepted rule. Its a waste of parts, and there's no logical justification for it.

I will say that as a design rule, simpler is better.

Here's a link that discusses LED wiring more fully and accurately than the Electronics Club.

From circuitry 101:

Vanix (author)2010-03-03

What resistor did you use, not sure if i need any specific type of thing or what... I am making this project for my computers class. Thanks for the help.

As I said, it really depends on the LED specs. When you buy LEDs, you've probably got the specs with them. Usually, 5mm white and warmwhite LEDs has a voltage drop of 3.6V and a drive current of 20mA. You may use a series resistor calculator to find the appropriate resistor. I always use

If you put those on parallel if : voltage = 5v, Current across led = 3.6, 20 mA each led to run, 7 leds total, = 10 Ohms resistor? right?..

why did you put a resistor of 68 Ohms?

Can you explain me please?

Thank You!
Have a great day! :)

jbernal1 (author)2011-08-11

Thanks for your nice work. Actually your work inspired me to made my own usb lamp, I used your "on-CD circuit" design, but the difference is the base, I did it with Legos!! xDDD Can I share some pictures later?

zsingh (author)2011-05-31

Great effort to reduce e-waste. GREAT Keep it up

yogesh_nik (author)2011-03-05

Amazing use of scrap good to recycle my all scrap CDs.

jtc10512 (author)2011-02-03

I wonder if you solder a USB port to it, it will act as a USB extender. Since the lamp itself would be taking up a usb port, you could regain the amount of free USB ports on your computer. For that, you would not cut off the data wires.

Gideon Ackon (author)2010-08-09

Why did you add the batteries? Is the batteries going to be charged? Why not the USB connected strait to the switch and the LEDs? Please send me the answer to

MCzone (author)Gideon Ackon2011-02-03

The Batteries are a counterweight not for power,
just use something more efficient than batteries though.

drf009 (author)2010-09-08

what is resistor volt?? 250ohm???

nacho.cheese (author)2010-06-03

excellent work!!!...
I did one, and it work nice...

georgettemarston (author)2010-05-06

 Hi my son is doing this for a school project and we cant open the step by step instructions without being a member we have all the parts , could someone paste the instuctions and email to me would be greatly appreciated thanks a bunch,

Vanix (author)2010-03-03
I am looking at these right now

2.2K ohm, 1/4-watt, 5% tolerance carbon-film resistors sold in packets of 5.

  • 2.2K ohm
  • 1/4-watt
  • 5% tolerance
  • Package of 5

markymonkeymark (author)2010-01-19

@sir Jan 12, 2010. 4:25 AMArtificial Intelligence
- wow nice...its really work... i already made one for my new modding project...soon ^_^ ...
see my worklogs here...

thanks a lot...

pr.sreehari (author)2009-12-28

wooow its very nice.
but  5v in usb port is enough to drive those 6 leds??

5 Volts is enough, because the LEDs are driven in parallel instead of series.

 yes u r right
i did it

markymonkeymark (author)2010-01-12

Hi sir Artificial Intelligenc, nice work... im just wondering, what happen to those green and white wires?where did you connect those?white wire connected to red wire(5v+) , and the other one which is the black (grnd), did you connect the green one?

im just a noob and willing to learn...
searching all over the net (Led lights powered by USB)

Since we are just using power from the USB port, the data wires (white and green ones) should just be cut off and not connected to anything.

nolimit69nolimit2000 (author)2009-09-21

You need to change the a statement in your intro though. "It's powered by the USB port, so you don't need any external power supply." USB is an external power supply. But it looks good.

Yeah, you're right but what I meant was the apart from your computer (which you are very likely to be using when you use this lamp), you don't need any additional power supply.

moribello (author)2009-08-28

Hmm...what about lead shot? I went to down to the gun store and bought a 5 lb bag of 00 buck for pretty cheap; I mix it with a little white glue; once the glue is dry it does a pretty good job of holding the shot in place. Lead fishing weights hammered flad and hot-glued on would probably work well, too. Just be careful; that stuff is kinda toxic. The batteries are a cool idea, though - especially if they're dead and are being given a second life as ballast.

The lead shots sounds like a good idea to me. I just happened to have a lot of dead batteries lying around.

selectum2 (author)2009-08-15

this is totally AWESOME!!!!!


kiss my donkey (author)2008-08-22

What wold happen to the LED'S if you don't use resistors?

and-reas (author)kiss my donkey2009-07-19

That depends, resistors only act as a current limiter (amperage limiting, like 20 mA). If you have a led that needs 20 mA max, and you wire it to a powersource with only 20 mA, you won't need a resistor. If you have a higher amperage your led could brake

They would burn out instantly or last a very short time.

Oh well I'm going to this cuz i need a desk lamp. I was going to buy one but it was plain. BTW: where did you get the warm white LED's Radio shack or something??

I live in Denmark, so I bougt from a German LED store called LED-Tech.

About This Instructable




Bio: Hi all, I'm a college student in the copenhagen technical college. I'm currently working with 3D printers and I'm building my own ...
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