Introduction: Fairy/Firefly Lantern

About: Huge geek who loves trying new things. This generally gets me into some weird projects. Figured it was time to start sharing them!


  • Wire Strippers
  • Knife
  • Pliers


There are lots of parts to this Instructable that could be improved, but part of my goal is to make it so anyone can do this without needing any special tools or electronics experience.

Step 1: Prepare the Power Supply

Cut off the end of the power supply. Using a knife or wire-strippers, pull the shielding back on the cable. Depending on the supply, you should see 2 wires. If they are red and black, you can assume that red is (+) and black is negative (-). If they are only black use a multimeter to find out which one is positive.

If there is a braided shield around the wires, you can pull that braid back and cut it off.

Strip the wires back 1/4". If you have a soldering iron, you can tin the ends of the wires. If not, try to twist the end of the wires tightly together.

Step 2: Attach the Supply

Instead of adding batteries, we are going to wire the power supply into it. This way, we can power it from the wall and never have to replace batteries.

Inside the box for the batteries, there will be contacts that touch the ends of the batteries. If you look close, you can see that two of these will have wires that run back to the little electronics board. The two main ones will likely be on opposite corners from each other.

Once you find the important contacts, pull them out from the box. They should just slide out with a pull or some pliers. Make sure not to detach them from the wires that are already attached to the back side of the contacts. Next, look at the bottom of the case. It should have little images of the batters and marks for positive (+) and negative (-). If you aren't sure, the one with the spring should be negative and the one that is smooth should be positive. Attach the red wire to the positive contact by wrapping the wire around the where the other wire is attached to the back. You can then put the contact back into the slot that it came from. Repeat with the black wire and the negative contact.

Once it is all wired up, plug it into the wall and flip the switch on the battery case to make sure they work.

Proper Way

The "correct" way to do this would be to remove the battery case all-together and solder in a switch and a resistor. Though this is the better way, a goal of this Instructable is to make this with as few tools as possible.

Step 3: Close It All Up!

Next, cut a small notch in the one side of the lid. Try to make it slightly smaller than the wire. You can do this with a knife, drill, or side-cutters, but remember to be careful. The edges might end up a little sharp, and a slip with a knife can be dangerous.

Once the hole is cut, you can close up the case and run the wire through the hole. If the hole is tight, it should hold the wire in place. If it's not tight enough and the wire slips around, you'll want to tape or glue it in place to keep it from pulling out your connections inside the case.

Step 4: "Catch" the Fireflies

The last step is the "catch" the fireflies inside the lantern. This is a fairly simple step, but can take some time if you are particular.

First, make sure to clean up the lantern. Make sure there is no fuel left in it and the wick is gone. Personally, I like the look of it being a little beat-up, so just a wipe-down worked for me.

Open the lantern by pushing down on the arm on the side of the glass. There should be a small ledge/hook for you to lock it under to hold up the main part.

After it is open, start feeding the wire into the lantern. It will hit the top and the sides and bend around. Don't worry too much about where the wires are going as you are putting them in, they will move a lot and can be adjusted after the fact.

Once the lights are all inside, you can use a pencil, chopstick, or small stick to rearrange the wires. You can reach in through the bottom opening and move the wires around. If possible, try to avoid having little "clumps" of lights together. The more evenly spread out they are, the better it will look in the end.

Once you've adjusted the lights, use the same lever as before to bring the glass back down. This will pinch the wire and hold it in place.

Step 5: That's It!

Now that it's done, you can use it as a lamp in a room or put it into a larger decoration with some branches. It doesn't create much heat at all so it should be safe almost anywhere. If you followed this instructable exactly, it won't be weatherproof, but with some minor modification and sealing, you could probably put it in a porch or a window sill without major problems

Trash to Treasure

Participated in the
Trash to Treasure

Epilog Challenge 9

Participated in the
Epilog Challenge 9