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Build a USB powered work light with only a string of christmas lights, a USB cable, nail clippers (or a wire stripper) and something nearby to hold it up
 
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Step 1: Get POWER!

Take a simple USB cable, I used a A-B type cord. Clip off one end, if using a A-B cord, clip off the B end. Strip off the main insulation and the inner insulation on the black and red wires. You now have a 5v 100mA DC power supply that will work in any powered USB port.

Step 2: Get Lights

Now, take a string of X-Mas lights. You want to cut off the plugs, but on the male plug end, leave some wire on it, this can be used a plug for any AC application. You need to seperate all the lights. Any bulb holder that has three wires running into it can be thrown away, these are special holders used to wire up the string. you may keep the bulbs though, as replacements. Also, you can save the extra two wires that run along the string, they can be used for circuits. When done you should have a pile of christmas lights and a pile of wire

Step 3: Let there be light

Now, take a christmas light and strip off some insulation from both wires Connect those wires to the exposed wire on the USB cable, and plug in the USB cable. Then find something from your desk to mount the light in/on. I used a piece of foam from an IC and a Bawls bottle.
XionII4 years ago
I just followed the first step, and I now have 6 High Intensity LEDs running off of my USB port, connected via Breadboard. How cool is that. :)
I guess there's no risk of harming my PC by doing this...?
csshih6 years ago
BAWLS!
PSPerson7 years ago
smart
zachninme7 years ago
Have you tested how many you can light at once? I could see someone writing a program to cycle it on and off to some song, or SOS in morse code :-P
I wonder aswell
sherman9098 years ago
You ever think about adding a switch on it so u don't have to always unplug it?
This would be incredibly simple. Just attach the leads to a switch, that should pretty much do it.
sherman9098 years ago
Wheres a good store that you could purchase LED lights at?
Radio shack. I used a small bulbed and it worcked fin.
abbtech8 years ago
Cool job. I would suggest some current limiting though. If you don't have any way of measuring the actual voltage drop of the LED you can approximate it by looking at these LEDs:
http://alan-parekh.vstore.ca/index.php/cPath/4_6

Most LEDs of the same color have very similar voltage drops. There is also a resistor calculator link at the bottom of all the LED descriptions that would allow you to calculate the correct value of resistor to use.
foppw8 years ago
What I tried, and it works, is instead of using christmas lights or LEDs, permanantly attach the red and black wires to a breadboard and you have yourself a USB breadboard.
Huevos8 years ago
I tired a similar project with a USB power fan. My computer kept complaining about plug and play device detected when the device was plugged in. Did you have the same problem or did I use the wrong wires?
You only need the red and black wires. The other are for data transfer.
amibolchi8 years ago
If you use some superbright white LEDs, then I think power consumption can be much reduced, especially when you are running it from a Laptop USB port that operates on 6-cell battery. Some similar LED projects can be found here:
http://www.electronicsinfoline.com/CircuitBook/Opto_Electronics/LED_Projects/
maffiou8 years ago
I see you've got some interresting litterature ! ;o)
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