Introduction: LED Pipe Menorah

About: I'm a Robotics and Engineering teacher at a vocational high school.

My mother has a tradition of adding a new menorah to her collection each year. She has a lot of Menorahs, like serious fire hazard a lot. I've decided to add to her collection each year, and barring any electrical issues, this LED menorah should cut down on the chances their home goes up in flames as over 50+ menorahs are lit up each night during the festival of lights. The design was inspired by this project by Grunambulax, The Steampunk Menorhah: The Grunambulorah.

Step 1: Tools & Materials

For this project you will need the following materials:

1x - Roll 24 Gauge Electrical Wire

9 x - 5mm Blinking RGB LEDs with Resistors

1x - 5" x 24" x 1/2" piece of nice wood (top)

2x - 3" x 24" x 1/2" wood (sides)

2x - Cut to fit 1/2" wood (ends)

9x - Knife switches (you can find them on Amazon)

4x - 3/4" rubber grommets

9x - 5/16" Rubber Grommets

1x AA Battery Pack that accomodates 2 Batteries

2x Terminal Block with at least 10 connections

Steel Pipe Frame (all 3/4"):

1x - 18 length threaded on both ends

2x - 90 degree turn

4x - Coupler

2x - Close Nipple


Soldering Iron and solder

Table Saw, Circular Saw, or Chop Saw - Something to cut the wood straight


Wire Cutter

Wire Stripper

Glue Gun

Masking Tape

Wood Stain - Whatever color makes you happy

Steel Wool - 000

Sand Paper - 150 grit

Drill Press or Drill

Step 2: Prepare the Lights

To begin, I began soldering my LEDs, Resistors, and wires together. Simply bend the resistor around the + end of the LED and solder in place. Next, solder a black wire to the - leg of the LED, and a red wire to the other leg of the resistor. *Note - resistors have no polarity so it does not matter which leg goes where.

Step 3: Measure Out the Top Board

This will depend on the type of Knife Switches you purchased, but you want to give yourself some room between each switch, and have them placed evenly spaced on the board. I started from the center and worked my way out (ie. 1 switch at dead center on the board, and 4 evenly spaced on either side. From center to center for each switch was 2". Each switch was 1" wide, which left 1/2 in between them. This distance was also small enough so that the switches would fit along the 18" steel tube. I then went head and placed the switches on the board and pre-drilled the holes. There are 2 mounting holes for each switch, and 2 holes for wires to come up from underneath the board. I used a 7/64" bit, but I'm sure a 1/8" bit would also work - just need something small enough to drill through the holes on the switches.

Step 4: Drill the Steel Pipe

If you have a drill press for this step, it will certainly be much easier. I did not, and had to use my cordless drill. Because of this, my holes were not as exacting as I would have wanted, but they were good enough. I used a 5/8" bit so that the small 5/16" grommets would fit into the holes. The spacing for the holes should match the spacing you did on the top of the board. The idea being the holes match up with the center of the knife switch that will be located below.

Step 5: Build the Wood Box

Now is a good time to build the wood box. Basically you have 5 pieces of wood, 1x top, 2x long side, 2x short side. Cut the 3" pieces to match the sides of your board and check to see they fit well. I used a countersink bit to drill holes on outside of the top and then clamped the sides onto it to pre-drill holes into the top of the sides.

In addition, you need to drill 2 large holes at either end big enough for the Close Nipple to easily fit through. First assemble the 18" pipe with the 2 90 turns on either end. Then attach the 2 6" lengths with a coupler on each end. Add the Close Nipple to each coupler. Center this on the board, and mark where the holes need to go. I used a 1" bit to cut the holes, but still needed to go around the edges with my drill bit to make it fit. Perhaps a 1 1/4" bit might have been better. You may want to make some tests on a separate piece of wood first.

When the wood box is complete, it's time to finish it with a good sanding, some stain, and some paste wax. I sanded all the faces smooth with 150 and 220 grit sandpaper, then applied a wood stain 2x coats. I finished with a layer of paste wax to give it a real nice finish. There are many 'ibles you can find regarding how to best finish wood, so I will not go into too much detail here.

Unfortunately, I do not have pictures of drilling, but have added some images of the the finished wood box so you can get an idea of what the process was.

Step 6: Thread the Wires Through the Pipe

You'll want to thread the wires through the pipe. Be sure to add the the 5/16" rubber grommet onto the wires first, so that it can be pushed onto the hole drilled into the steel pipe. You'll want to use masking tape or something else to label all the wires before you put them through the pipe, otherwise you'll have no idea which wire goes to which light.

Step 7: Add Knife Switches

Each Knife Switch has 2x screw terminals. Attach a length of red wire to each terminal and thread the wire through your pre-drilled holes. Then use 2 screws to secure the switches to the top board again using your pre-drilled holes.

Step 8: Go Outside, Shovel Your Driveway, and Hang Out With Your Friends.

Take a break and do some household chores and hang out with your family.

Step 9: Attach the Steel Pipe Frame to the Wood Box

Add a 3/4" Rubber Grommet onto the Close Nipple Threading the wires through your drilled in holes in the wood board, then place the Close Nipple through the holes as well. From the underside of the box, attach another 3/4" Rubber Grommet to the Close Nipple.

This is a good time to add the wire wrap around the wire hanging down from the pipe. Choose a length you like and try and match it for 8 of the LEDs, and have the last LED hang a bit higher.

Step 10: Wire It Up

I used 2 Terminal Blocks as a way to gather my wires together, reds and blacks. I screwed the Terminal Blocks to the underside of the Top. I then used jumper wires between each to connect them all and all the black wires from the LEDs. I also attached the black (-) wire from the battery pack.

When looking at the knife switch, I am calling the back end the side from which the switch rotates, and the front the end that makes the connection when the switch is pulled down. The red wire (+) from the LED should be soldered to the red wire coming from the front of the knife switch. Use heat shrink wrap to contain the soldered joint. The red (+) wire from the back (rotation end) of the knife switch will go to the other terminal block for all the + ends from each terminal switch. Obviously, do this for all 9 LEDs.

I used some hot glue to attach the cables to the inside of the box for some wire management and hot glued a velcro strap down to hold the battery back. Attach the black and red battery pack wires to the Terminal Blocks and velcro in place.

Well, that should be about it. Test out you switches and hope you've got the wires going to the correct lights. Enjoy your festival of blinked RGB LED lights!

Make it Glow Contest 2016

Participated in the
Make it Glow Contest 2016