Picture of USB Powered Mystic Light
This instructable will show you how to easily build a USB Powered Mystic Light using readily available and inexpensive parts.  Not only is this easy to make but its fun to experiment with and create interesting variations.  The last step of the instructable will show another great looking variation that can be made without the crystal.  You can see the light in operation here and here.

Step 1: Parts List

Picture of Parts List
Step 1b - Parts.JPG
You will need to get the following parts for the electronics for the USB Powered Mystic Light (don't worry there's nothing sophisticated here), the parts for the base of the light (lots of opportunity for you to experiment with different parts), and lastly the "mystic" component that brings the whole project together.  I've also listed the tools you'll need so you can have everything ready when you start the assembly.

Electronic Parts
1. 5mm Red Blue Green Color Changing LED.  You probably won't find these in your local electronics store.  If you search on eBay for "5mm led rainbow rgb" you'll find them.  They cost approximately $13 for 100.
2. Resistor: 82 ohms, 1/4 watt. Color bands: Gray-Red-Black.
3. USB cable with a male type A connector on one end.
4. Thin wire.
5. Heat Shrink Tubing (1/8" and 1/4" diameter) or Electrical Tape.

Light Base Parts
1. Copper pipe fitting with 1" and 1 3/4" ends.
2. #14 Cork (1" diameter on the small end and 1 1/4" diameter on the large end)
3. 1/2" Nut - (1/2" diameter center, 3/4" outer diameter)

Mystic Part
1. Clear Quartz Crystal with bottom diameter no larger than 3/4" - I got mine for $10 at a gem shop in San Francisco.

1. Soldering iron and solder.
2. Wire cutters/strippers.
3. Heat gun or similar (optional) if you're using heat shrink tubing.
4. Small metal file.
5. Scissors.
6. Drill with a 1/4" drill bit.
7. Box cutter or X-Acto Knife

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Man! AWESOME Instructable.

I did mine but i have a "problem": i used the resistor and did everyhing EXACTLY as you instructed... BUT: My led is flashing and changing colors TOO QUICKLY! Is it the resistor that controls the flow of postive current, and thus, the led is changing colors too quick or too slow depending on how much ohms the resistor has? Or maybe i purchased the wrong LED? (It looks THE VERY SAME AS YOURS, btw).

Looking Forward to your answer!

Here´s my Crystal at work (I´ve upped the vid on my blogspot, but don´t worry!):

I think you might have the wrong LED.
pmn93933 years ago
lol, sell for 1000 and call it the ImRich USB or something.It totally reminds me of those apps.
nemanja923 years ago
why i dont have eletricity on usb,,i have meybe 5v.but i cant pulg in nothing even smal bulb????hellp
SmallGalaxy3 years ago
It would be fun to modify this so that it can sense a few RF emitters (like the proximity sensing pocket squares, except only the crystal assembly can sense the "squares") which are either disguised as wearable items that you (or a minion) give the boss (or anyone else you want to avoid) as a present, hidden somewhere on their person, or hidden in something (a purse, laptop bag or whatever) that they carry around. If the assembly senses an emitter, it slowly fades to red and starts blinking, then once the emitter gets past a certain distance threshold, it is reset to its normal pattern (to keep the avoidee from getting suspicious).

TL;DR If I make this I'll try to make it turn red when baddies approach!
can i use a battery pack instead of usb cable? i already have the parts except the cable but i do have a small salvaged battery pack. would it work? it uses 2 AA batteries.
yes because 2 AA batteries is 3 volts and don't use a resistor
muito bom o seu projeto se me permite voce poderia melhora- lo no caso de nao comsegui o cristal voce poderia enche o vidro com agua e pra que a agua nao vase voce poderia vedar com cola quente .
it takes a genious to figure out that a cork can be used to make the parts stay in place.(im being realistic here, no sarcasim!!! i never would think about that!!!)
mattbeowulf4 years ago
Thanks for the awesome idea! Mine ended up a little different; used a 1-1/2" to 1" fitting to accommodate the larger crystal (rutile quartz) that I bought, but the biggest change resulted from what began as a setback: I got my LED from radioshack and the only one that seemed cool enough to buy was a 7-color variety (really RGB in various combinations.) It has a third control lead along with the anode & cathode, but came with no data sheet or anything. When I got it home and started playing I discovered that applying power triggered a 10 second "demo" type light show, which then ended with the LED burning solid red. Momentarily contacting the control lead to ground would turn it off, again would cycle to the next color, repeating through all colors would finally end with a slowly shifting constant on that I had originally hoped for.
At first I was bummed because I couldn't see how it would work for this neat project (the first Instructable I've ever tried, BTW!) but after a glass of absinthe and some creative thinking I came up with an idea. It took many hours and different attempts with different materials, but ultimately I had a finished result that looks very similar to the one featured here... except that after the demo mode of my LED finishes, the crystal itself is used as a push-button to cycle through the colors. I accomplished this by setting the crystal on a nylon spacer inside the fitting with the LED glued into the center hole and flush with the surface, which actuates a momentary button switch (PC on/off switch) mounted in a base inside the fitting. The LED-spacer crystal holder stands off of the interior base via a small compression spring so that when the crystal is pushed the button closes the connection between the control and ground leads, cycling to the next setting. Finding the best combination/configuration of parts to achieve a really professional finish took WAY longer than I expected, but the end result is so cool that I may have to build another for myself, since this one is a Christmas present for my tech guru.
Thanks again for the great instructable!
ALogan974 years ago
i might try this with a blinkM led so i can customize the colors.
Hm, I was wondering what I could use the tubes that solder comes in for.
Anthony3125 years ago
When di dthe copper color suddenly turn black?
CyborgGold5 years ago
If you use a knife to score designs on the tube... does the light make the scratches light up?
I made a variation of this using 2 RGB LED's and a bunch of rocks from my collection. I used a mint tin but didn't need a resistor because I wired the 2 led's in series. It's been one for a few week and they're still cool to the touch. I'll probably make another for my boss (for putting up with me) but I'm going to see if I can stash a flash drive inside and still make it work.
talk2bruce (author)  Scatmanbrandt5 years ago
Sounds cool. I'd like to see it. Have you posted pictures of it anywhere?
I just made an instructable and post a link to this one in it since you were the inspiration for it.
Maybe I should put a link http://www.instructables.com/id/Glowing-USB-Rocks/
talk2bruce (author)  Scatmanbrandt5 years ago
This is a very cool variation of my instructable. I like it!!!
Sorry this is quite a novice question but w/e... I found a little toy that has three LEDs programed to cycle colors which runs on 3 AA batteries. By taking the wires that supply power to the toy and attaching them directly to a usb could I safely convert it to usb power or would I have an issue with the voltage... BTW I really like this instructable!
klownox5 years ago
Where did you get the light base parts? I've been looking around and I can't seem to find a 1" x 1-3/4" reducing coupler. Also, the cork is causing me some trouble. I've seen some places online where I can gt them, but they seem to be incredibly expensive.
talk2bruce (author)  klownox5 years ago
In my experience these LEDs are fairly tolerant is the resistor's value but what I do is use an online LED resistor calculator like the one at this site or this site to determine what value to use and try to stay within 100 ohms of that value.
talk2bruce (author)  klownox5 years ago
I bought the reducing coupler at a Lowe's Hardware store in Sunnyvale, California. The cork came from a Michael's Arts and Crafts store. They sell small bags of assorted corks for a few dollars that include one #14 cork. I did some searching online and found a site called Widgetco that sell #14 corks for 75 cents each. Here is a link to their site: http://is.gd/dmYAw. I'll do some more searching to see if I can find you an online supplier for the reducing coupler.
hunter11255 years ago
since you know a bit on leds, how many volts does the USB cord discharge and how many volts do you need to power the average led (just 1)? because I need help on building my own led system.
talk2bruce (author)  hunter11255 years ago
In my experience these LEDs are fairly tolerant is the resistor's value but what I do is use an online LED resistor calculator like the one at this site or this site to determine what value to use and try to stay within 100 ohms of that value.
hunter11255 years ago
oh and what about resistors. does it make a big difference on what types of resistors (as in ohm differences)?
talk2bruce (author)  hunter11255 years ago
In my experience these LEDs are fairly tolerant is the resistor's value but what I do is use an online LED resistor calculator like the one at this site or this site to determine what value to use and try to stay within 100 ohms of that value.
seems like you could make it with a Build your own lightsaber toy crystal
talk2bruce (author)  Aaron Hoffenberg5 years ago
That would be pretty cool. I don't know if you could get enough light out of the LED to go the length of a saber but you could certainly make a light "dagger" toy.
could we make a socket to be abel to change out led colors?
talk2bruce (author)  thatinventor15 years ago
You don't really need one to change the colors since the LEDs in this project change colors automatically. But, using a socket would be a good idea if you used regular non-color changing LEDs.
ap19225 years ago
Good Place to get RGB LEDs
superbrightleds.com - http://tiny.cc/124cw
You can choose how fast the led changes color (Slow 4sec./Fast 0.27sec.)
ap1922 ap19225 years ago
sorry wrong link - http://tiny.cc/agisn
victavicta5 years ago
What shop did you get the gem from? I live near SF and figure i can grab one next time I visit friends.
talk2bruce (author)  victavicta5 years ago
I bought the quartz crystal at Karizma, 213 Church Street, San Francisco. They have a terrific selection of crystals as well as lots of other cool stuff.
Awesome! Thanks a ton!
Punkguyta5 years ago
Umm yeah the colours DO NOT cycle when you just apply power at one end. What a lie! You need PMW power control to vary the current going to the LED, and thus changing the colours. Really man, theres nothing in this instructable showing how the LED changes colours, and in fact, it is the same colour in every picture.
talk2bruce (author)  Punkguyta5 years ago
The simplicity may be hard to believe but the LED's used in this project have three color emitters built in with internal circuitry to slowly change from one color to another. That's the beauty of using them - nothing external is required other than a resistor and the power source. You can see other examples of how simple they are to use and the lack of external components by looking at the LED Art Kit sold at MakerShed.com and the video for KipKay's Weekend Project called the Cosmic Night Light.
Relax and look at step 9. Video shows color-changing and pictures have different colors.
you know you can put the light on a stick and take it with you
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