Introduction: Solar LED Light Jar Rev 1.5

After looking through the site I was really taken with some of the LED projects. ( ) I especially liked the frosted jar LED as well as the crushed glass LED bottle projects so I thought it would look best to mix the two. You've got Peanut Butter on my Chocolate! You have Chocolate in my Peanut Butter! Ok, maybe not but I do have crushed glass in my LED jar.... Let me apologize up front as this is my first instructable. I've added some new images to help explain some of the steps.

Step 1: Bits and Pieces

The best part about this instructible is that the parts required are simple, relatively cheap and very easy to obtain. Also, this really doesn't require any complex tools or procedures.

Here's a quick breakdown of the parts I used.

1 Small Glass Jar w/ Hinged Lid
1 Solar LED Walkway Night Light
2 4" Thin Stranded Wire (White or Light Colored)
1 1" Thin Clear Shrink Wrap Tubing
Crushed Glass

Note: I originally planed on using clear bottles for my glass but found that the bottle's broken pieces became more opaque than I had hoped. I chanced across a local glass shop and was allowed free reign into their dumpster where I came across some thick panes of quality, heavy, glass. This glass kept its clarity when broken and produced crisp, clean breaks. Although it had a slightly green tint, I preferred it over the bottle glass. I had also wanted to try blue tinted glass (reference other instructable) perhaps next time.

Note: The LED light I purchased (Household Depository) disassembled well by just removing six screws. The only problem I couldn't easily overcome was removing the LED top insert from the weather shield. They used a great deal of glue that I couldn't remove.

Step 2: On to the Bandsaw and a Few Solder Connections!

Being careful to keep the wires tucked away, a few turns with the band saw and I was able to cut away all the spare material.

Three screws and the original LED light reflector comes apart. Take out the silver reflector cone and drop it into the bottom of the jar. I also cut a piece of shiny foil for the bottom because the cone didn't cover the entire base.

NOTE: Cutting the battery compartment out of the bottom lid was a snap. I just had to cut close the box without worrying about cutting into anything too vital. KEEP THE FOUR MOUNTING HOLES / BRASS STAND OFFS WHEN CUTTING so you can keep the two pieces screwed together.

NOTE: Cutting the Solar lid wasn't too much more difficult. I had to cut enough of the waste off to get the unit into the jar but not cut into the panel or its circuitry.

My first idea was to epoxy the Solar panel directly to the lid of the jar. However, the smaller jar's lid was too small to accomplish this. The good news was that the panel was a perfect fit (once trimmed) to fit into the neck of the jar. Once the lid was closed it only left about a 1/2 inch gap between the lid top and panel.

NOTE: I screwed the battery box back into the Solar panel. This kept it up and tight out of the way. The original circuit board was meant to attach vertically between the batteries. I used my Leatherman to cut a notch into one of the mount points and was able to slide the the board in flat between them. This left the LED attached with its default connector, about 1 inch off of the board.

I cute the LED posts and soldered on the thin wire extensions. (BE SURE TO KEEP THE SAME WIRE ORIENTATION) This allowed me to position the LED into the center of the jar, cover it with more glass and then pop in the Solar Panel / Battery / Circuit assembly on top.

I built up the glass layers using (for my new rev) smaller pieces and I tried for a horizontal orientation.

Close the lid, snap the latch shut and viola, she is done!

Again, I really think the effect would be better (both with the LED on and off) with small, closer packed, glass pieces. My first attempt used the larger pieces ( 1/2" to 1-1/2") and it looked fine. I then used smaller (1/2") and I think it looks better.

NOTE: When you load the glass into jar and get close to the top leave a depression in the center. The battery and especially the PCB need some space in the center of the jar. If you pack the glass too high, you'll crush your board. If you don't pack the glass up the sides the glass will rattle around and looks "empty".

I was also thinking that adding a second or third LED would make a better effect as well. The original Solar unit was rated at 10 hours with a full charge. I think I'd be good with a full charge lasting a handful of hours if it was a bit brighter. Or, maybe the single light is good just the way it is. You decide.

A few after project ides I though of that may make a better end-product.

Break up one of those humidity sucker packages and throw it in the bottom of the jar to keep it from fogging up in the light. Just in case.

Perhaps a few strategically placed pieces of colored glass. For daytime aesthetics. Who knows, perhaps you could even through some marbles in the bottom first, some dried flowers, whatever!


Step 3: REV 1.5 - Some Follow Up Shots

I took the jar apart over the weekend because I really wasn't happy with the larger glass pieces. I used a large brown bag, the original and left over glass and a pair of vice pliers 'snap!' and broke down all the glass into about 1/2" pieces. I think it looks better and sparklier (I know, made up word). I thought it looked dimmer at first but it just wasn't charged. Full charge = much better effect!. It also took twice as much glass as the original fill.

I also dropped in a reflector for the bottom which helped drive the light back into the mass.

The one thing I think all of these LED jars need is some sort of ON/OFF switch. I also think that they need to be enclosed inside the jar to keep them weather proof. I've started building a magnetic on/off switch attached to the base of my next jar and will include those instructions as well. So far, it seems to work perfectly - wave a magnet underneath the jar and presto!! Clicks on, clicks off. Why wast the batteries if you're not going to use it?

Anyway, enjoy!