Picture of usb christmas lights
this project was inspired by the following web page:
that said, there are unlimited numbers of things that can be powered by usb. with the holidays coming up, why not christmas lights? i've added a switch to the original design to allow me to turn them on and off without unplugging the usb cable. The whole thing is mounted into an enclosure (altoids tin, of course), purely for aesthetics.
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Step 1: Get your equipment

Picture of get your equipment
i began with a battery operated set of christmas lights, and the male end of a usb cable. i cut off the c battery holder, taking care to mark which wire was positive and which was negative. frankly, this may not matter in this case, but i wasn't completely sure, and i'm a better safe than sorry kind of guy. i stripped the ends of the wires and twisted them to keep them together. i then stripped the outer sheathing off the usb cable and located the red and black wires. these are the only ones we will need. if you're following along with me, strip them too. for an enclosure, i chose--of course--an altoids tin. this, however, is the first project i've seen inside an altoids smalls tin. (at least that's something)

oh, i also use a small toggle switch and some solder and what not.

Step 2: Get funky I

Picture of get funky I
drill a hole in the side of the tin closer to the base than the top. i used a much smaller bit and then used a precision file to work it up to size. it wasn't a perfect circle, but it allows you to move the hole a bit to get the fit right so the lid will still fit on. besides, the nut to hold the switch in place on the enclosure will cover it once it's on.
hi1115 years ago
 i am a 12 year old electric novice and would like to now if someone could tell me how to wire a 5v regulator in this schematic

i already have it built and it charges my psp but i am making it able to charge my ipod and think a $2 regulator is worth less than a psp or ipod
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pdub77 (author)  DELETED_cdousley4 years ago
well done!
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pdub77 (author)  BluePhenox5 years ago
Really, SSBBROB?  Lay off the kid.  He's (or she's) just trying to learn about electronics.  Maybe he'll be the person who gets excited about this stuff and ends up inventing something amazing we will all use someday.  And maybe his parents helped him out or he is using his dad's (or mom's) account.  However he (or she) is on this site, the comments are on my project and don't concern you.  And if there is a legitimate problem, report it to the actual Instructables admin.  Cheers!
pdub77 (author)  hi1115 years ago
Just do an Instructables search for '9v USB charger' and you will come up with a host of projects much like this:

As well, depending on where you buy your regulator the basic wiring should be on the package.  Radio Shack?  It's on there.  Just wire it up and go to town.

(I accept no responsibility for fried-pods. . .)
pdub77 (author)  pdub775 years ago
Also check out 'matroska's' post if you haven't already.  Very useful.  Thanks, matroska!
hi111 pdub775 years ago
 thanks that helped alot
pdub77 (author)  hi1115 years ago
No sweat.  Hope all goes well.  Post some pics when the deal is done.  = )
iProton5 years ago
 I'd also give it a tumbler switch or a dimmer :P Just in case.

matroska5 years ago
 Very neat! I'll be using this to power my ipods and iphone!

By the way, for those looking -like me- to power real usb devices, you will need some modification made so that the device will know it's a "real" usb port.

See this instructable for more details:

Unfortunatly, as is, it will not power iPods or any other devices that requires some kind of usb standard. (Which is why in that instructables all the 4 pins are used.) Good luck all and thanks.
Can you use a set of christmas lights and power them with a pc.
it could be possible if you can find a way to turn 5 volts into twelve volts then you can use an inverter to turn twelve volts into 120 volts then TA DA.
pdub77 (author)  Sk8erCk4Life6 years ago
usb is around 5v whether you're on a mac or a pc. if you have a set of lights that can run on 5v you can power it with either. all i'm doing is harvesting power, not the operating system.
pdub77 (author)  pdub776 years ago
if you're talking about straight out of the box plug-in(120v) Christmas lights, no.
TheInventor7 years ago
Quote pdub420:i've used white electrical tape to insulate the soldered ground wires. color doesn't really make a difference, but please, please! don't EVER use red!! just kidding.|| That was hilarius!!! +1
led2357 years ago
how many volts come out of a computer USB Socket?
quanta led2357 years ago
5 Volts
could you makes this work with music on your computer?
Here it is....
i mad this battery pack...
the battery is only a little warm but im not sure about it.....and i made the usb christmas lights with the same everything...its pretty kool...the battery pack on this instructable got me interested...

pdub77 (author)  Yerboogieman7 years ago
i'm glad my instructable inspired you. that's what it's all about. you should post a pic of your usb lights, if you want. i'd like to see it.
Didnt you think about other uses to this? This could be the neighborhoods best halloween pumpkin.
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pdub77 (author)  DELETED_rbhays8 years ago
actually, these lights were originally made to run on two c batteries. that's 3 volts. usb provides about 5 volts.
zachninme8 years ago
On the x-mas lights, why did you use the tin? You just spliced 2 wires...
pdub77 (author)  zachninme8 years ago
a. i soldered the wires and didn't tape them. using an enclosure keeps everything from being pulled apart. b. i added a toggle switch to turn them on and off without having to unplug them from the usb port. an enclosure was necessary to mount the switch to something. c. it was something fun to do with an altoids smalls tin.
Fog8 years ago
i dont get it! why go through all that troule, if ur gonna use another battery!!? :S
pdub77 (author)  Fog8 years ago
if you'll reread, my friend, you would see that i was just using the battery to test it before plugging it into my computer. it tested fine and i am using them with my mac. it just so happened that my usb charger was the perfect thing to use to test it. voltage was right on. hope that clears it up.
pdub77 (author) 8 years ago
yeah, treb, i can dig. i just liked the simplicity. i'm cutting my teeth, remember. take care and thanks for the kind words.
trebuchet038 years ago
Nice work :) --- Looks like a basic 5v power supply -- if you want something more efficient, search for the mintyboost by ladyada ;)
atombomb458 years ago
Nice. I like the battery pack too.