Adjustable PVC Desk Lamp




Introduction: Adjustable PVC Desk Lamp

This is my first Instructable, I will try to explain everything as well as I can. I wanted to create a desk lamp that is battery powered and wasn't too big, this way it is portable and can be used virtually anywhere. I also wanted to make it as simple as possible so that anyone could make it. It requires minimal tools, supplies and time. Enjoy.

Note ---> This is my first instructable, so I thought I should include this; this project involves using cutting tools and electrical components. There is some risk using such items, so do so at your own risk, I'm not responsible for any injury you may bring to yourself for this project. Thanks and happy building!

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Step 1: Tools/Parts

This is a project that does not require much, but it is a variety of things. The total cost of this project was about $12 but I had a few of the things already at my house. There really isn't that much here, but I went into detail in case there were any questions:


1" PVC pipe ---> Home Depot sells 2' lengths of PVC, just one 2' length will do for this project

1" Fittings ---> You will need 2 elbows (90 degrees), 1 end cap, 1 1" to 1/2" reducer coupling, and 1 coupling

1/2" PVC pipe ---> You will need 2 of the 2' lengths

1/2" Fittings ---> 2 elbows (90 degrees), 1 45 degree coupling (see picture, it is called a 45 degree piece but it joins two pieces of pipe at an obtuse angle)

1 Bottle ---> a 2 liter soda bottle works best


9v battery & Battery Clip---> our power supply

6 LEDs ---> You can pick any number and color of LEDs, I used 6 pure white LEDs. Note- if you change the number of LEDs, you will have to change the value of the resistor

46+ Ohm resistor ---> Ignore the resistor I used in my pictures of the build, I later realized this resistor was not optimal for this project. MAKE SURE your resistor is at least 1 watt. This is why my original one did not work, I only used a 1/4 watt. Anyway 46 ohms is for the 6 LEDs, if you used a different number of LEDs your resistor value will need to be different. This doesn't have to be exactly 46, especially because I believe the closest value resistor is 47 ohms, but you do not want to go lower than 46 ohms if you used 6 LEDs. The value was calculated using ohms law R=(V1-V2)/I

Switch ---> Pretty much any switch will do. A pushbutton switch is recommended because it is easier to drill a hole into PVC rather than cut out a little rectangle for a slide switch. NOTE- make sure the switch you select is not a momentary switch or you will have to continuously hold down the button to use the lamp.

Perf board ---> a circular one is recommended, but if you cannot find a circle one, you can get a square one and cut it. It will need to fit snugly around the circumference of your bottle

Wire ---> pretty much any gauge of wire will do, it just has to fit inside the pipe and be able to connect to your components


A Dremel is recommended; you can definitely complete the project without one, but having one makes it easier.

Soldering Iron & Solder or Electrical tape ---> This is how we will connect all of our electronics. Soldering makes for a more solid and permanent connection, but electrical tape could work as well, it will just be more difficult

PVC Primer & Cement ---> The primer is not really needed at all, but most people use it when using PVC cement. The PVC cement is also optional, but recommended. There aren't too many joints and the pipes will not be handling any pressure so if you just snugly connected each piece and threw some tape on it, it will likely work as well

Paint ---> obviously not required, but makes the lamp look nice

Saw ---> If you do not use a dremel, you will need a saw, or some other means of cutting your pipe. A simple handsaw will do or there are also PVC pipe cutters available

Sandpaper/File ---> If you do not have a dremel with a sanding bit, you will need sandpaper or a file. A file will probbly work better because we will be sanding down the inside of the pipe to ensure that the 9v battery can fit in the 1" pipe.

Drill ---> Needed to make the hole in the pipe for the switch

**Note- not all tools/things needed are shown in this picture

Step 2: Measure and Cut

Bottle ---> You will want to cut the bottom off of the bottle so that you are left with the cone shape at the top and the cylinder in the middle of the bottle. I later cut the cylinder part off leaving only the cone part of the bottle. It's really all your preference.

1 inch pipe ---> Cut 2 7" in segments and cut 1 4 and 13/16 " segment. This also doesn't need to be as exact. To make measurements easier you can just cut a 4 3/4" segment.

1/2" pipe ---> Cut 2 1.5" segments, one 18" segment, and one 5" segment.

Step 3: Assemble the Structure & Measure Wire

In this picture, you can see the shape of the lamp when it is finished. Grab some wire, 2 different kinds, (red and black are easiest, red for positive and black for negative) and assemble this shape piece by piece sliding the wire through each piece as you go. DO NOT GLUE THE PIECES TOGETHER YET. We are simply assembling the shape of the lamp to measure out how long our wires will need to be, if you glue the pipes together now it will be very hard to get the switch in the pipe. After getting the wire through the whole lamp, leave a couple inches out on each side just in case.

Before you glue any pieces together, later on that is, look at the last step of this instructable if you want to make the lamp adjustable

Step 4: Circuit

*Note - You probably want to paint your PCB board at this time, before you put the LEDs on, this way you don't have to worry about getting paint on the LED or finding a way to cover it so you can paint everything else except the LEDs. It is also recommended to paint the bottle now, for the same reason, LEDs don't really light up that well when covered in paint. It also is suggested to do a few coats on the bottle because if you miss a spot it is very noticeable when the leds are on and shine through it.

This is, of course, if you are painting your lamp

This circuit is pretty simple, it is 6 LEDs wired in parallel and a resistor thrown in there. Right now we will be looking at the LEDS. I drew up the circuit in one of the pictures. Basically all you want to do is connect all of the anodes (positive leg, longer leg) of the LEDs together and then connect all of the cathodes (negative legs, shorter legs). Then connect a wire to the anodes and a wire to the cathodes ( a separate wire than the ones through the structure of the lamp).

After you have the circuit all wired up, put the wires coming from the circuit through our bottle, and align your pcb along the inside of the bottle and I used hot glue to keep it in place.

Then you want to take the wires that we ran through the structure of the lamp, and the wires that we just put through the bottle and solder them together. After you solder them together, you will have a lot of spare wire. To fix this problem, just pull the wire from the other side of the lamp(where the battery goes) until there is no extra wire, only wire thats inside the lamp. After this is done you can put the lamp back together.

Step 5: Button and Battery


This is the only step where having a dremel or similar tool is extremely advantageous. Shave down the inner walls of the pipe until your battery fits and can be removed easily. This can be done easily with a dremel and a sanding bit. If you do not have a dremel the best way to do this is probably with a file. I used a dremel so I do not know how well the file will work


You will need to drill a hole(or cut out a square) the size of your switch. This can really be done at any spot in the lamp, but I chose to do it in the same piece of pipe that I used to hold the battery. I did this 2.5" inches from the end of pipe that we sanded down. You might have to change this distance, Make sure it does not interfere with the placement of your battery, but also make sure you can reach this hole from the inside with your finger, so you can get the wire through.

After you drill the hole, take the red wire from your 9v battery clip put it through the inside of the pipe and through the hole. Take the red wire from the structure of the lamp and do the same thing from the other side of the pipe. The ground wires can also be put through the hole just to make it easier to solder and have less wire.

When you put the wires through the pipe, you will have a lot of wire left over. you will want to cut the positive wire to be long enough to go through the hole and be soldered to the button, but also short enough to be pushed back down the pipe. If you are putting the ground wire through the hole, you will want to cut it approximately the same length as the positive wire. If you are going to do it the way I did, put the wire through the whole pipe and cut it approximately at the end of the pipe. You just need to have enough wire that, when the battery is attached to the clip, you can pull the battery out and you can also insert the battery and put the end cap on the pipe.

After you have soldered all of your connections and have put the battery in the clip, shove everything back in the pipe and put the end cap on.

You now have your lamp!

I hope this has been clear and i hope you have success in your builds!

Step 6: Finishing Touches

You now have your lamp....basically. It will be done after a couple finishing touches.

Now you can glue all of your pieces in place! There are 3 joints which require no glue, this makes the lamp adjustable. These joints are; the 1" end cap, one side of the 1/2" elbow, and one side of the 1/2" angle joint. I have marked them off in one of the pictures above.

After you are done using the pvc cement, paint it if you wish! I wanted to paint my final product, but I ran out of paint.... Anyway, be cautious of the leds, you don't want to paint over them and also be careful of the button, if it has paint on it it may get stuck in one position so you may want to put some tape over it so that you don't paint it.

Now you're done! To turn on the lamp press the button/activate your switch. To adjust the position of the lamp's arm, twist the unglued joint of the 1/2" elbow. To adjust the angle of the lampshade, twist the non glued joint of the 1/2" angled joint.

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    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! Glad you like it