Introduction: Magic LED Gift Box

About: I spend too much time making stuff and too little time using stuff, yes I think I have a problem :D

My niece was looking for a gift box for a friend's gift, and the theme was gonna be "lights" so this is what popped into my brain. Unfortunately she found something else, but that's fine, I am going to put her gift in this box (she has not seen anything but a mock-up).

The box is pretty simple with multicolor LEDs which would run from a couple CR2032 cells. Really nothing special here, just some color changing flashing LED's, resistors, a breadboard and battery holder. I did have a moment where I had to stop myself from going overboard by adding an ATtiny or a PIC with a motion activated switch or even some Bluetooth module, but I felt like this really needs to be simple and cheap since it is just a gift box (and I don't want the gift box to eclipse the gift inside).

Step 1: Step 1: Parts and Tools List

The parts used are (most bought from Amazon with Prime):

  • 5 x 7 cm DIY Prototype Paper PCB Universal Board
  • Bluecell 50 pcs RGB Full Multi color Flashing LED Electronics 5mm
  • 2xCR2032 Battery Holder with switch
  • Several inches of insulated wire (I used some old breadboard jumper wires)
  • 2x 330Ω resistors (I used some 1/4 watt resistors I had around)
  • Darice Value Pack Mache Square Box Set 4/5/6 Inch (they sell these at Amazon and many craft stores, a nesting box set is best since a smaller box top is also needed)
  • One sheet of Decorative Paper large enough to cover the bottom part of the box,
  • One sheet of Translucent Decorative Paper (to allow the LED's to shine through) - some translucent plastic sheeting or even part of a store bag may work for this.
  • Paint for the top, I used some FolkArt "chunky glitter" paint that took 6 coats to get decent coverage. Would not use that stuff again, but it did turn out nice (I don't have glitter flaking everywhere).
  • All purpose Glue (Elmers)
  • Hot Glue Gun + Glue sticks or double sided foam tape
  • Any type of tape (scotch/masking/packing) will be handy as well

Tools needed:

  • Scissors
  • Pen or pencil
  • Ruler or straight edge
  • Soldering Iron + solder
  • Razor knife or blade / or an Epilog Fusion M2 ;-)
  • Cutting surface
  • Butter knife or something dull that can be used to score paper for folding (nothing sharp)
  • Stuff to paint with (fingers/brushes/sponges)

Step 2: Step 2: Prepare the Bottom of the Box

I wrapped the bottom of the box with the decorative paper. The materials used were:

  • Butter knife with dull edge (or something similar for scoring the paper fold lines - nothing sharp)
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Glue or Glue Sticks
  • Decorative paper
  • Bottom section of the box being used
  • Ruler or straight edge and pencil
  1. I first put an X on the back of the paper to help me center the box and aligned the corners of the box as best I could (the paper mache boxes are not perfect so will be a bit less than square).
  2. One side of the box was also marked along with a corresponding mark on the paper so the orientation would be preserved. Once aligned, I drew the outline of the bottom of the box on the paper and then cleaned those lines up with a ruler so I had a square footprint of the box in the center of the paper.
  3. From there I scored the outline of the box bottom on the paper to help with folding, and cut from the corners of the paper to the corners of the box outline in the center.
  4. Then I set the box back in the center of the paper and rolled it on each side and marked those outlines (to determine how high the side wall would be). I again cleaned these lines up with a ruler and added just a bit more than 1/16" extra to account for the thickness of the box walls.
  5. Once the sides were all drawn on the paper, the lines were scored with the dull edge of a butter knife and then I cut them as shown with small flaps that would fold over the edges.
  6. After the cuts were all made, I folded the flaps flat on two opposing sides of the paper, and glued them down.
  7. Then the bottom was glued and the sides folded up and glued, with the first sides being the other set of opposing side walls - their flaps were glued to the box to cover the corners. then the other sides with the flaps folded in were glued up, and finally the sides were folded in and glued to finish the bottom of the box.

Step 3: Step 3: Prepare the Top for the Box

For this step I needed:

  • The box top for the gift box, and another top for the next smaller size box.
  • Ruler or straight edge
  • Razor knife or blade
  • Something to cut on
  • Paint for the box top, I used spray paint, but any paint will do
  • Paint or glitter paint in this case

The top of the box will have a window cut in it, so the LED's can shine through. I could have been more creative with this, but a geometric design is simpler to cut out. A few lucky folks have access to a laser cutter which would make for some really creative designs, but I have a razor blade and a thimble full of patience. Obviously this is not something I would let a kid do, and had to take care (please be careful, we only have 9 spare fingers after all). A nice thick piece of cardboard could avoid cutting through and damaging the table top (not shown since I really did not use one).

The smaller box lid will be used to contain the electronics in the lid of the larger box top. That will become clear later, but it is also the reason I bought a set of nesting boxes. It's important to keep the window cuts inside the perimeter of the smaller box top lid, which is why I placed it on the larger lid and outlined it before cutting. I then added some extra margin - a bit more than 1/16", and then laid out the window design. Once cut out, the top was then pained with a base coat of white spray paint, and then I used some special glitter acrylic paint over that (it could just be painted with acrylics or left natural at this point). The images are annotated with this info as well.

Step 4: Step 4: Lec'tronics and Putting It All Together

For this step I used:

  • 5x7cm Breadboard (any size that will fit in the smaller box lid will work)
  • 4x RGB flashing color changing LED's
  • 2x 330Ω resistors (I used some 1/4 watt resistors which I had around)
  • Some thin insulated wire (I used some old breadboard jumpers), only need 3-4"
  • One 2xCR2032 battery holder with switch (also some batteries to go in there)
  • 1 sheet of Translucent Decorative Paper
  • Elmer's Glue (or whatever's on hand that will stick paper to paper)
  • Soldering Iron + Solder + basic soldering skills
  • The box top from the last step + a smaller box top also from the last step
  • Hot glue or double sided foam tape
  • Something to drill / poke a hole in the smaller box lid

I wanted to keep this simple, but I also wanted to make it tidy since I don't want some mess of wires inside the box. The breadboard may be unnecessary for something this simple, but it was really one of the cheaper options and certainly will make it cleaner. There are many ways to save money on materials for this project, I chose simplicity over cost to a degree. I was thinking of using conductive copper tape and some SMD LED's which may have been even simpler and cleaner looking, but conductive tape is more costly than these cheap breadboards.

Anyway, the circuit is very simple with 2 series strings of 2 LED's each, in parallel, which are powered off a 6V battery (2 x 3.3V CR2032 cells) with a couple of 330Ω resistors (sharp eyed folks will note that I used 3.3K resistors in the pics, but that was an error - still worked, though not as bright). I tested this setup with 330Ω resistors and 2 CR2025 cells (in the series wired holder) which measured about 6.36mA current draw at the battery negative terminal after an hour, and it is still kicking after over 3 hours. This is obviously not driving the LED's near where they should be so they are not super bright, but bright enough I think. This is probably not the optimal circuit, but it was what my tiny brain could come up with given the desire to run this off 2 watch batteries.

A note on the battery holder, the ones I received had a "+" and "-" embedded in the holders - those were indicating the side of the battery that faces down. It would be wise to double check the polarity of the wires from the holder using a meter before soldering. If there is no meter, 2 LED's can be put together with a resistor verify they work with the batteries in the holder (and switched on) before soldering everything together. There is a pic of a LED for reference which shows how to tell which legs connect to the + anode and - cathode.

The assembled board was hot glued (but it could have been taped with double sided foam tape) to the inside of the smaller box lid. The battery holder was positioned to overhang the edge of the circuit board so that a hole could be drilled/poked in the smaller box lid where a paper clip could be used to switch the LED's on, once everything is assembled. The battery holder was hot glued (or could be taped) to the circuit board once in position. A hole needed to be poked or drilled to allow a paper clip to action the switch on the battery holder (through the bottom of the lid, in the case of this gift box) - it's good idea to test this works AND drill/poke the hole, before gluing it all together. The hole used to activate the switch with a paper clip is seen in the last pic of the box being glued up.

The last pic shows the top being glued together, however I missed getting a pic of the translucent paper which I glued to the inside of the top (should be clear how that works). The translucent paper was glued with Elmer's and it wanted to curl up so had to keep sticking it back down. I would not use hot glue on the translucent paper since that would not allow the paper to sit flat against the box top, and will stain it if any gets in the wrong places.

I covered the board and battery holder with white paper (though I probably would have used while plastic from a store bag if I did this again), with the LEDs sticking through, to help conceal the parts of the board from being seen though the translucent paper. Once the glue on the translucent paper had mostly dried, I put some Elmers glue on the edges of the smaller box top (which holds the circuit board with LED's and battery), and positioned it to cover the window, then added some more glue where needed and weighted it so it could dry without gaps. It is important to not forget to put a hole in the smaller box for activating the switch (and testing it) before gluing since everything will be sealed up after this step.

Step 5: Step 5: Put Your Gift Inside, Turn It on and Enjoy the Light Show

Now just turn it on (though the hole that you did not forget to drill in the bottom of the box top), then put your awesome gift in there and close it all up. Just remember the batteries won't last forever, so don't drain them by showing it off, before giving the gift :D

I uploaded some new pics of the box in normal lighting, unfortunately since the LED's flash and dim, I was not able to capture the actual brightness very well.

If you like this, please consider voting for my Instructable, I have entered it in the "Make it Glow" contest.

Thanks for checking this out :D

Make It Glow! Contest

Participated in the
Make It Glow! Contest

Homemade Gifts Contest 2015

Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2015