Introduction: Minecraft Glowstone Cube Lamp

Today, we'll be making the coolest, nerdiest desk accessory you could possibly imagine: a Minecraft Glowstone lamp.

(Check out more of our awesome hacks on our website!)

But, it won't be any ordinary lamp. With the wonders of copper tape, the Glowstone block can separate from the power base, meaning that you can pick up the cube, play with it, and store it in your inventory.

If you want to make it a different material - say, diamonds or redstone - all you need to do is print a different texture and use a different color of LEDs!

What you'll need for the cube:
  • 7 printed copies of the attached Glowstone texture (for best results, get it printed professionally by Kinkos or another print shop on their thickest paper). Decide on the size of the cube (we did 7" on each side), and print the texture slightly larger (in our case, 7.5"). You'll only need 6, but it's good to have a backup!
  • Some black mounting board (purchasable at any craft shop) - in a pinch, you could use cardboard for the cube, though the final result won't be as sharp
  • 8 LEDs (of amber color for most accurate glowstone reproduction)
  • Superglue
  • Some Wires
  • Hot glue
  • Lettertech (or other adhesive that'll attach paper to things without making bumps)
  • Optional: 8 small rare earth magnets

What you'll need for the base:
  • Some more black mounting board (purchasable at any craft shop) - you actually see this in the end result, so using cardboard will make it look much less professional
  • Copper tape (on Amazon) - a good size is 1/4" inch
  • Digispark (see Here)
  • Power converter
  • Optional: 4-8 small rare earth magnets

Tools you'll need:
  • Soldering Iron
  • Scissors (or a paper cutter - to trim the printed textures)
  • A knife
  • Masking tape
  • Glue Gun
  • Wire Cutters/Strippers (these are awesome)

With parts in hand, let's get started!

Step 1: Crafting the Cube

Time to make the star of the show: the Glowstone Cube

Make sure you have all of your supplies gathered before crafting!

On the outside, the cube is covered in printouts of the Glowstone texture - on the inside, its structure comes from the mounting board

Step 1Trim the white paper off your printed textures (see picture 2)

Step 2: Take your mounting board and cut it into two rectangles, each equal to three sides of the cube. So, if your cube is 7" per side, each rectangle should be 7" x 21"

Step 3: Use a knife to score (not cut) the mounting board along each side's edge, so that it folds into three squares (see picture 3)

Step 4: For each face, take your spare texture and use it to cut holes in the mounting board (all except one face - that'll be the bottom) where the white spaces inside of the texture are. This is where the light will shine through (see picture 4). You can be a bit sloppy here, since the mounting board will be covered by the texture. Note: masking tape is your friend, use it to hold the texture still while you cut

Step 5: Cut out the holes in each texture print. Be very careful here, since this is what will be visible. Try to remove all of the white paper, but don't let your knife slip and leave cut marks

Now for the tricky part: attaching the textures

Step 6: Time to attach the first texture! Using LetterTech, or some other adhesive, line up the holes on one of the texture printouts and attach to the middle section of one of the mounting board strips

Step 7: With your middle texture attached, you'll want to fold a wing to be 90 degrees from the middle section by putting it on the edge of a table. Repeat for the other flap (see picture 6)

Step 8: Repeat steps 6 and 7 on your other strip of mounting board. You should now have two half-cubes with only one face textured - but, because you glued the flaps, they should now do a pretty good job of staying in a cube shape

Step 9: Slide the two halves together to form a cube, then use masking tape to hold them together.

Step 10: See all of the new flaps sticking out? Glue them down, except the one that would prevent your bottom, hole-less face from swinging open, since that's what we'll use to put in the LEDs!

Step 11: With the new texture flaps glued on, and your bottom still open-able, cut off the flap that's still sticking out on the bottom.

Step 12: You now have to apply the rest of the textures. But here's the deal: after you apply a texture, you have to glue down all of its flaps before you apply the next texture. And, whenever you're going on top of another flap, cut off the new flap. This'll give you the clean-edge look visible in picture 1.

Congratulations! You should now have a beautiful glowstone cube! Next, we'll cover how to insert the LEDs.

Step 2: Making the Cube Glow

the cube won't glow until we build the base and power supply, but we might as well insert the LEDs while we still have the cube in our hands.

Make sure you have your wire, LEDs, hot glue gun and soldering station on hand, then let's get started!

Step 1: Wire your LEDs together in parallel, with 7" of wire between each LED. It helps to plug them in to make sure that they all turn on properly before we permanently attach them inside the cube.

Step 2: You'll want to place each of your 8 LEDs into one of the corners of the cube, pointing inwards. Warm up your hot glue gun, and get gluing! Your power and ground wires should end up next to the open bottom flap.

Step 3: Next, we'll want to set up the cube to receive power from the base, via two sets of copper tape in concentric squares! Looking at the outside of your bottom flap (which should have a texture on it), find and mark the center. Then, mark a 2"x2" square around that square, and make sure it lines up with the edges of the cube.

Step 4: We'll need to get power and ground to the outside of the cube, so poke a hole in the center, and another hole at some point along the 2" square.

Step 5: Feed your copper tape through these holes, so that about half an inch sticks up into the cube. Then, trace out your two squares with copper tape. Don't make the center one just a tiny dot, otherwise it will be really hard to make contact when setting the cube on its base!

Step 6: To prevent LED burnout, always solder a current-limiting resistor to either the power or ground lead. The resistor should probably be somewhere around 100-150 ohms, depending on what LEDs and power supply you use. 

Step 6: With your LED wiring on the inside, solder power to the outer copper tape square, and ground to the inner square.

Now your cube is all set up to glow, and in the next step we'll give it the power to do so!

Step 3: The Base Station - Powering the Cube

With the LEDs wired up, we just need to get power to them. What better way to do so than giving it a pedestal?

Step 1: Craft the pedestal by taking mounting board and building a small box, 2" high and 4"x4" on top (it doesn't need a bottom). You'll want to use hot glue on the inside to hold it together

Step 2: Recreate the same two squares of copper tape on the base (just like you did with the cube, make sure to poke holes and feed some of the copper tape into the inside of the base)

Step 3: Make a hole in the base for the power converter's plug, put the plug there and glue it in firmly. You should now be able to plug and unplug your base!

Step 4: Time to build the power circuit. We used a digispark for this, but any microcontroller setup will do. Your controller probably doesn't have enough current to drive all the LEDs from a single pin - we just wired an entire port together to compensate. If you use a digispark and our lovely port-tying technique, solder all the output pins (P0-P5) together, then solder them to the outer (power) copper square.

Now solder the inner copper square to ground, as well as the GND pin on the digispark. Solder the 5V pin to the 5V section of the power jack, and you're good to go!

Note: The better way to do this is with a MOSFET or BJT - for more information on how to do this, see this page. Bad things - magic smoke, among others - can happen if you only turn half of the port on, for instance. 

Step 5: Next up is programming. This is where you can really get creative - make it blinky, adding subtle fades, or time-sensitive activation are all in your grasp! We went with a simple flicker effect, but we recommend starting with the digispark tutorial page and setting the port to be always at 5V for testing. 

Step 6: Upload your code. Now, when you set your cube on top of your base, it should start to glow!

If it doesn't, try turning out the lights - if you still can't see them, try moving the cube around on the base (the copper tape might not be making contact).

In the next step, we'll look at one way to make it easier for the cube and base to line up properly

Step 4: Optional: Magnets!

If you want your cube to attach to the base easier, just apply magnets!

Firmly glue one magnet (or two if you have at least 16 total) to each corner of the larger copper tape square on the inside of the cube

Then, apply the same process to the base - voila! There won't be much pull, but it'll be just a little bit easier to get the cube to line up with the base

Step 5: Enjoy!

And there you have it, one awesome, glowing Minecraft cube that can be detached from its base. It makes a great desk accessory, and an awesome gift to anyone who loves Minecraft.

Feel free to comment with questions and feedback - we're here to help!