Introduction: Quick LED Pumpkin Lighting

About: A Maker since childhood with all the classic symptoms, a robot builder, and an Internet software CTO/Tech Product Manager.

We had some left over LED strips from the TeleToyland Sandbox 2 project (Instructable), so we decided to turn them into quick Jack-o-lantern lighting.

They only take a few minutes to make, so you can build a bunch of them quickly, and they come in many colors. These LED strips are designed to be run off of 12 volts, but you can use a 9 volt battery, and it all fits easily in a pumpkin. The strips are parallel, so you can use any length you want, and no resistors etc. are required.

Step 1: Materials

There are very few parts:

1) LED Strips - you can get these in many places like the below:
  • Adafruit - there is also a nice tutorial on soldering leads here
  • HobbyPartz - lots of color choices here
We had some left over strips of 9 LEDs each - about 5.75" long, but you can use any length you want. You can cut the longer strips down at the marked cut points every three lights - about every two inches.

These strips are waterproof and they have adhesive tape on the back.

2) 9v battery clip

3) heat shrink tubing (~1/4") - about 1/2" long

Step 2: Assembly

First, cut the LED strips to the length you want. Then, use a knife to scrape the waterproofing off one of the ends. Make sure to leave the + and - marks visible, and you don't need to scrape much since the solder really only sticks to those round solder pads anyway.

For the 9v battery lead, trim the wires down to short lengths - about 1/8" long.

Use a soldering iron to tin the pads on one end of the LED strip, and tin the 9v battery clip leads. Then solder the leads to the pads.

Test the LEDs, and when they are working use the heat shrink tubing to protect the connection. We were able to slip it right over the LEDs

That's it!

Step 3: Installation and Improvements

There are a bunch of ways to mount them. You could use some stiff wire to bend them into a circular shape, or a chopstick to have them in a line into the pumpkin. You can even use the adhesive tape on the strips and stick them right to the 9v battery.  We just used a piece of transparent tape to stick them horizontally to the face of battery so they stuck out on each side.

For the TeleToyland Sandbox 2 project, we made them controllable over the Internet using and Arduino controller - you could do the same with these. There are also several Instructables on Arduino controlled pumpkin lighting.

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