Introduction: Halloween Mini Spotlights
How To make mini spot lights for yard decor such as Halloween or Christmas. To help light up specific decorations to stand out from other lighting involved.
1/2" PVC pipe (Lengths TBD per you application) - Home Depot
PVC Cutter or hand saw - Home Depot or Harbor Freight
Dremel Rotary tool - Home Depot or Harbor Freight
Bandsaw (optional) - Home Depot or Harbor Freight
Belt Sander (optional) - Home Depot or Harbor Freight
Drill Press or Drill - Home Depot or Harbor Freight
1/4" drill bit - Home Depot or Harbor Freight
Heat Gun - Home Depot or Harbor Freight
3/4" Sanding Drum - Harbor Freight kit
Bench Vise or Quick Grip Clamps - Home Depot or Harbor Freight
16-2 Exterior grade speaker wire - Home Depot
12V DC power jack connectors male and female adapters 2.1 x 5.5mm - Amazon
12V Eagle Eye style LEDs 9W (color TBD by builder and needs for displays) - Amazon
AC Adapter Model PA-60W 12V / 5A with 8 way splitter - Amazon
1/4-20 bolts - 1/4" x 1.5" (amount TBD by user) - Home Depot or ACE
1/4-20 wing nuts (amount TBD by user) - Home Depot or ACE
Flat Black Spray paint (bonds to plastics) (or your color of choice)
Step 1: Making Your Posts
For my application I decided to use 10" of 1/2" PVC for each mini spot. This 8" for the main post and 2" for the spot shroud.
On my 8" piece I measured from one end to 2" and on the other end 1.5". This is just what I went with, but you can make them both 2" if you feel to make them equal. Mark and then cut all pieces using by either PVC cutter, Bandsaw or hand saw. I did my markings on one side to make sure I'd have both ends flattened facing the same.
Using a heat gun, heat up one end. Have your vise or clamps ready to squeeze the end flat. Be sure to wear a glove while holding the pipe while warming it up. I had my heat gun on high.
Be sure to rotate the pipe to warm it evenly and to prevent it from burning. After a couple of minutes check the pipes' softness. Either a quick pinch with you glove on or on a bench surface to see if its pliable. Once ready, quickly line up to your mark and squeeze the pipe with vise or clamp and let this cool.
Heat your next piece while the other is cooling. Complete all one side first and then do the other sides. In my case, I did all 2" first, and then turned around and completed the all 1.5" ends. Seemed easier this way than to just wait for cool down and flip it over.
Step 2: Shaping Posts
One one end, in my case the 1.5" side, I measured and marked about 3/8" from end to drill my mounting hole. Using a 1/4" drill bit to complete this. You could also use a rotary tool with a bit and widen as needed to complete this also.
The other end, 2" side, I marked a "V" line and cut out using my bandsaw to make the spike point. This can be cut with a hand saw or rotary tool with cut off wheel also. If heated hot enough and squeezed hard when flattened, this will be stable enough after cutting and should be a good solid point.
To clean up the cuts, I used my 1" belt sander to sand a wedge on the edge which will help when time to stick in the ground. On the other end, I sanded the edges round for a cleaner look. I did not get a pic of this I am sorry to say.
Step 3: Spot Shroud
Using the 3/4" sanding drum from a Harbor Freight sanding drum kit. I used by drill press to bore out the inside of the pipe. Using a clamp or vise to hold the pipe stable, I slowly lowered the sanding drum to help center the pipe and continued to bored down. As mentioned before I went down 3/4". I was able to set a depth on my drill press to complete this. This was perfect enough that I didn't have to alter the LEDs any to make them fit. But I checked fitment as I went.
This step can be done using a rotary tool and a coarse grit sanding drum. Generally these are also about 1/2" wide, so this can also help as a gauge for depth and alter as needed. Since the pipe is 2" long, I'd still recommend some way to hold it, either a vise, clamps for safety. This will also help to keep it more stable to work with and allow the bore to be more even. Use your judgement, but please be safe.
Once you've completed this step and tested fitted the LED, and happy with the result. Drill the mounting hole at the other end. 1/4"-3/8" from the end. Again using the 1/4" drill bit going through both sides. Keep in mind these had the thread stud and the wires coming out of the end. Adjust as needed to not pinch the wires against the bolt later.
Another option is just drilling one side and inserting the bolt from inside the pipe for mounting. I decided to leave my build using the bolt through both holes. Use whichever works best for you. Unfortunately I didn't get a close up shot of adding the holes in this piece.
Step 4: Painting
Pretty simple here. Make sure PVC is cleaned off well and if possible try to give a light sanding over the surface to allow a better bond. And use the plastic bonding spray paint such as Krylon or Rustoleum. Since mine will be used primarily for Halloween displays, I'm going with flat black. And about 2-3 coats should do well. No need, at least I think, for any clear coating. I'd just leave it black.
Step 5: Installing LEDs
Drop the wire of the LED down through the shroud and just before seating the LED, use either a super glue or High temp hot melt glue to secure them in place. Make sure to level the LED as best you can before glues set up. The LEDs do not get hot, maybe slightly warm. Cold weather will help offset that anyways. But using a high temp hot glue would work well and no worries of the LEDs coming apart. Just 3-4 drops on the ledge that was created when boring the pipe. And push LED into place. A snug fit and glue should make them seat well. But if need to replace an LED later on, you should be able to get it apart.
Using the 1/4" x 1.5" bolts, assemble the shroud to the post and using the wing nut to secure them together, tighten and adjust as needed per set up. I did not include any lock washers in this since I do not think it would help much. You can add them if needed for your application.
Step 6: Wiring Setup
I work at Home Depot in the electrical dept., so I was able to decide which wire would be best for my project. I chose the Exterior 16-2 speaker wire. And bought 100 feet. This has the gray casing which is suitable for outside elements. I probably could have gone with the 18-2, which is the next smallest wire down. But my thinking for using the 16-2 would be thicker when adding on the DC connectors to bite on to secure them better.
For my yard setup I made 3 - 20 feet cords, and 4 - 10 feet cords. I need to get more wire, but I plan on making several 10 foot lengths. I figure I'll have more control with 10 foot lengths and just having a lot of one size will make it simpler than separating and labeling them. I originally added colored zip ties, but didn't write them down and forgot which colors were which. So when all rolled up, its hard to pick out the longer lengths.....lol.
For my power supply, I went with the ABLEGRID AC Adapter Model PA-60W 12V / 5A with 8 way splitter, which can power several LED spots and some props with wiper motors. I bought extra splitters, and if I need to I can branch off. But buying 2-3 of these should be plenty to push an ALL 12V props setup.
Using the 12V DC power jack connectors male and female adapters 2.1 x 5.5mm to connect the wires as needed. Each cord you make should have one female and one male on each end to link them up correctly. If you search amazon long enough you'll find some decent deals on these and especially if the seller is including a % off coupon by clicking the box. For example at this writing a set of 10 male and female are $8.00. And I recently purchased a 24 pack for $12.
When connecting the jacks to the wires, make sure to follow the POS (+) and NEG (-) markers on them. For example if you Designate the Red wire as POS, make sure they go into only all the POS (+) terminals, and black in the NEG (-) terminals. Use electrical tape over the connections once you've got it all set up for use. Wrap the tape a couple inches past the jack on both sides. Wrap tight for a better seal.
Another pic I did not get was that I used a small cheap GLAD food container with Lid to hold the main power transformer in during the wet weather. Go to Dollar store and buy a pack of either GLAD or Ziploc containers with Lids. I think the ones I have are 6"x 6". Cut out a small notch on each side of the container just the size of the wire. That way you have an in and out feed of the wires. Using the black spray paint to paint the container, so that it blends in with shadows in your yard at night.
Step 7: Final Shots
This was a fun project and one I've been meaning to make and get completed for some time. And planning how to best write this out. And as I said previously, I plan to make more of these. I recently picked up some Green, Red, and Blue Eagle Eye LEDs for the future builds. The blues and greens in the pics are from LED flood lights. Which are pretty bright that I had to put some duct tape on 2/3 of the lens to help lessen the brightness. But adding these mini spots helps single out the display as needed so the floods don't drown everything out.
Now this is one version of making mini spots and there are lots of videos on youtube to check out and build what works for you. I created the spikes as another alternative for options. And if one wanted too, could make these taller to create a down spot instead of an upward spot. Possibly a 3' - 8" high if inclined too.
That's it for this build, I'm working on a couple of other ideas, 2 for Halloween props and 1 that is car mod related.