Introduction: DIY Mason Jar Solar Lantern
In this Instructable, I am going to show you how to transform a glass jar into a piece of decorative solar lantern. I have designed a custom PCB for this project, so people with minimal electronics skills, can make it easily within an hour. The PCB can support a variety of LEDs to get different effects. This is an inexpensive and easy way to add charm to any outdoor space which gives off beautiful light well after the sunsets.
The Solar Jar depends wholly on the sun for power, which ultimately means it saves you more energy, and you don’t have to worry about unplugging once it is fully charged because the battery automatically stops charging once it’s full, and as long as the solar panel is facing the sun, you can rest assured that it will charge and ultimately give your garden a colorful illumination. The Solar Jar Lantern is equipped with inbuilt sensors. Once the sun begins to fade into the horizon, it automatically switched on leaving your garden with colorful rainbow light.
1. Solar Panel -2V ( Aliexpress )
2. Controller QX5252F ( Amazon )
3. 47 uH Inductor ( Amazon )
4. RGB LED ( Aliexpress )
5. Sliding Switch ( Amazon )
6. 1N4148 Diode ( Amazon )
7. 0.1uF Ceramic Capacitor ( Amazon )
8. AAA Battery ( Amazon )
9. AAA Battery Holder ( Amazon )
10. JST male-female connectors ( Amazon )
11. Double-sided Tape ( Amazon )
12. Mason Jar ( Amazon )
13. Candle Flickering LED ( Aliexpress )
14. Fairy String Light ( Amazon )
15. PCB ( PCBWay )
1. Wire Stripper ( Amazon )
2. Nipper ( Amazon )
3. Hot Glue Gun ( Amazon )
Step 1: How It Works ?
The heart of this light bulb is a very small 4 legged IC QX5252F. It works very similar to the "Joule Thief " circuit.
But the advantage of using this chip is that it does not require a bulky and heavy toroid. It does the same job using only a simple inductor, a single AA / AAA battery, and a LED.
It requires only an external inductor is required for making the Circuit. The LED current can be changed by using a different value inductor. The chart is shown in the above picture. I have used 33uH Inductor in this project.
Pin-1 -> Solar panel positive terminal
Pin-2 -> Battery positive terminal and one leg of Inductor
Pin-3 -> All ground ( Solar panel, Battery and LED negative terminal)
Pin-4 -> Another leg of Inductor
Step 2: Modifying the Circuit
The original circuit given in the datasheet uses only an inductor as external components to drive the standard LEDs. But it does not work for RGB and few other types of LEDs. So I modified the circuit by adding a buffer circuit to the original one.
The buffer circuit is just a diode ( 1N4148 ) and a capacitor (0.1uF ) at the output before connecting the LED. The diode keeps the capacitor charged when the pulsating signal goes to 0 volts.
After adding the buffer circuit, you can notice that the RGB LED cycles through all 7 colors.
Step 3: PCB Design
I have designed a custom PCB for this project. You can download the Gerber Files from PCBWay
Note: When you place an order from PCBWay, I will get a 10% donation from PCBWay for a contribution to my work. Your little help may encourage me to do more awesome work in the future. Thank you for your cooperation.
Step 4: Solder the Diode
For Soldering, you will need a decent Soldering Iron, Solder and a Nipper. It is good practice to solder the components according to their height. Solder the lesser height components first.
Solder the diode ( 1N4148 ) in place of D1 on the PCB. The black strap on the diode indicates the negative terminal, which is also indicated on the PCB.
You can follow the following steps to solder all the components :
1. Push the component legs through their holes, and turn the PCB on its back.
2. Hold the tip of the soldering iron to the junction of the pad and the leg of the component.
3. Feed solder into the joint so that it flows all around the lead and covers the pad.
Once it has flowed all around, move the tip away.
Step 5: Solder the Inductor
Solder a 33uH Inductor ( 1/2 watt ) in place of L on the PCB.
First, bend the two legs as shown in the above picture. Then insert the leg into the PCB and finally solder them.
Trim the extra legs by using a nipper.
Step 6: Solder the Capacitor
Solder a 0.1uF Ceramic Capacitor in place of C1 on the PCB. This type of capacitor does not have polarity, so you can solder it anyway, it will work.
After soldering the capacitor trim extra legs.
Step 7: Solder the IC QX5252F
The heart of the solar lamp is IC QX5252F. It comes with a TO-94 package, the 4 legs are very close to each other.
So I have given space between the legs during designing the PCB.
Hold the IC QX5252F in one hand and stretch the legs a little apart as shown in the above picture.
Insert the IC into the holes labeled as " QX5252F " on the PCB. Be sure you are inserting in the right direction. The outline of QX52525 is drawn on the PCB to avoid confusion.
Then finally solder it and trim the extra legs.
Step 8: Solder the JST Connectors
I have used two JST connectors for connecting the battery and solar panel.
Solder the two JST ( Female) connectors as shown in the picture.
The polarity (+) is marked on the PCB.
Step 9: Solder the LED
You can now solder a 5mm LED onto the PCB directly. But to test a different kind of LED, here I have soldered a two-pin female header. By using this, I can easily swap between different kinds of LEDs one by another.
In the next few steps, I will test with the following LEDs:
1. Strawhat LED
2. Colour Changing RGB LED
3. Candle Flickering LED
4. Fairy String Light
Step 10: Slide Switch
The last step is to solder the slide switch. Insert it into the PCB where it is labeled " SWITCH ", then solder it.
Trim the extra legs by a nipper.
Step 11: Drill a Hole in the Lid
You have to place the solar panel over the jar lid. To pass the solar panel wires into the mason jar, make a hole by using the drill.
Pass the JST connector wires through the holder made in the lid.
Step 12: Mount the Solar Panel
Solder the red wire to the positive terminal and black wire to the negative terminal of the solar panel.
Then mount the panel on the top of the lid by using double-sided tape.
Step 13: Mount the Battery Holder
First solder the battery holder terminal with the battery JST connector.
Insulate the soldering joint by using the heat-shrink tube.
Mount the AAA battery holder just side to the circuit board.
Finally, connect the battery connector to the circuit board. Insert the battery into the battery holder.
Step 14: Mount the PCB
Align the circuit board to the center of the Jar lid.
Mount the circuit board by using double-sided tape.
Then connect the solar panel connector to the circuit board.
Step 15: Charge the Battery
Now slide the solar lamp switch to ON position and then place the Jar in the bright sunlight.
The solar cell will charge the battery.
Step 16: Test the Lamp
For a quick test, insert the LED into the female header.
Then slide the solar light switch to the ON position and cover the solar cell with your hand. The light should be turned ON.
Here I have used the 5mm Strawhat LED. The output of the lamp resembles a flashlight.
Step 17: Adding More Effects
You can use your creativity to produce a various attractive effects to the lamp.
I have filled the jar with acrylic pebbles to get the glittering effect.
Step 18: Adding Rainbow Effect
Here I have a two-pin RGB LED. Insert the LED into the female header.
Then close the glass jar lid and enjoy the slow and fast color-changing rainbow effect.
The acrylic pebble scattered the light in different directions which looks very attractive.
Step 19: Adding Candle Flickering Effect
Insert a candle flickering LED into the female header in the PCB.
Close the lid, and see the flickering effect.
Then I have added the acrylic pebbles, to get the more attractive light effect.
Step 20: Adding Fairy String Light
Initially, I was not sure, whether the PCB will support a fairy string light or not. But when I tested it, I was really amazed that it works with charm. But I will recommend you not use too long string, because it may exceed the current handling capability of the IC QX5252F.
First I cut the fairy string light from the battery box. Then stripped out the insulation from the terminal wires.
Then insert it into the female header to connect the LED. Place the string light inside the Jar and it's done.
You can make a few similar jars and place them in your garden or lawn. Now enjoy your new solar jar.
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Thank you !!!
This is an entry in the
Make it Glow Contest