Beautiful Tap-light Night-light




Introduction: Beautiful Tap-light Night-light

Here's a fun and simple project showing you how to make some tactile night-light/mood-lights that turn on and off when you tap them.

They're cheap (less than $1 a piece), cool and don't take that long to make!

*Update - June 4 2014 - add florescent luminescence and give an almost radio active glow to your tap lights. Check step 9 to learn how.

* Update - June 5 2014 - No printer, no problem - make a tap light out of wood and paper. Skip to step 10 to learn more.

I hope you enjoy!

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Step 1: Here's What You'll Need

Here's a list of everything you'll need:

- One or multiple LEDs

- A resistors for those LED(s) Here's a good instructable that teaches you how to choose the right ones for the LEDs you'll be using

- A self-locking switch or push button... look up self locking switch on ebay or get them at a local hobbiest shop that sells electronic goods. These do pretty much what they say - they stay on/off when you press them until you press them again.

- Some electrical tape

- A hot glue gun

- A battery to power the LEDs. I've used a 3V coin cell battery here, but you can use multiple 1.5V batteries too. (When soldering, don't solder directly to the battery)

- A casing for the light (base and body). I've 3D printed this one, but one could be made of anything you like, so long as it can withstand the force of you pressing it. If you have access to a 3D printer you can print the casing I made here. Or you can make you're own casing.

- Soldering iron and solder

Optional equipment:

- A pencil can be helpful

Step 2: Securing LED(s) to Switch

Picture 1:

Wrap the longer lead (+ve / annode) of your LED to one end of the switch's leads. Then wrap one end (either one is fine) of you're resistor around the other lead of the switch. Bend the other leads upwards towards the button.

(Check step 8 to see how to add multiple LEDs if you want a brighter light or blended colors)

Picture 2:

Solder the leads in place.

Step 3: Testing the Circuit and Taping It Up

Picture 1:

Test the circuit by holding the resistor lead (that wasn't soldered) to the +ve terminal of the battery (it says on batteries which end is +ve) and the LED's cathode (unsoldered lead of the LED) to the -ve terminal of the battery. Turn the switch on and off to make sure everything is working,

Picture 2&3:

*Do NOT solder directly to the battery

Use electrical tape to secure the LED and resistor leads to the battery (if using aluminum tape, use 2 pieces, one for each lead).

Picture 4:

tape everything together with electrical tape.

Step 4: Figure Out Where the Switch Should Be Secured

Picture 1:

We'll be using the circuit and body of the casing here.

Picture 2:

Before gluing anything, take the circuit and place it button face down, inside the body of the casing. line it up so that when the button is fully pressed it is level with or a little bit above the opening of the casing.

Picture 3.

Then mark with a pencil where you will be gluing it. It doesn't have to be in a corner, but it'll be a little more secure there. It's better if it's in a little too much rather than down too low. If it's up too high you'll be able to fix it later by extending the button.

Step 5: Gluing the Circuit Into Place

Picture 1:

Get some hot glue on the side(s) you'll be sticking to the inside to the body of the casing.

Picture 2:

Stick it where you made the pencil marking from the previous step. if you stuck it a bit too high you can add some hot glue to the end of the switch to give it a bit more height. If it's too low it'll lean on an angle and may jump out of the base when you turn it on/off.

Step 6: Optional Spring Stage (if You're Casing It Too Heavy)

Pictures 1-3:

This is really only if you have a very weak spring in your self locking button or have a heavy casing or battery.

The Spring should be as tall as the body of the light. If it's not tall enough, it wont bounce back fully, and if it's too tall it might make the body jump out of the base when you turn your light on/off.

If you decide to do use a spring, take some hot glue and use it to secure a spring in place. This can be moved into the opposite corner to the circuit if you like. I found that he casing was so light that it didn't need an added spring, but I thought that I'd add it just in case you want to make a BBTL... that's big beautiful tap-light ;)

Step 7: Tap That!


Let there be light!

If you're light is too concentrated, you can diffuse it many ways. Here are some examples:

- Make casing for light thicker

- Use a fine sand paper on LEDs

- Cover LEDs with a layer of paper taping it in place with some scotch tape


Thanks for taking a look at my first instructables!

Step 8: Optoinal (adding Additional LEDs)

Picture 1:

choose some LEDs and identify which ends are positive (longer leads) & negative (shorter leads). This will make a series circuit and you'll only need one resistor if you decide to do this. Again follow the link in intro to decide which value of resistor to use if you're unsure.

Picture 2:

Twist the positive leads together and then the negative leads together.

Picture 3:

Test them by touching the +ve and -ve leads of the LEDs to the +ve and -ve terminals on coin cell battery respectively.

Picture 4:

Now that you know they're arranged correctly, put the battery aside and solder the leads of the LEDs together.

Step 9: Taking It Further: UV LEDs and Homemade Florecent Paint/glue

I had some UV LEDs lying around from another project and wanted to incorporate them in the tap light. I was on a pursuit to find what would cause the best visual reaction from the UV lights. I didn't really want to use store bought florescent paints because I think making your own is more fun (And they can be a bit expensive). I knew that tonic water glowed under UV, but that would be sticky and I couldn't get my hands on any raw quinine. After trying various other things like vitamin B12 in vinegar (which for some reason didn't work for me), finally I found out that highlighters look awesome under UV light... which is great because I had a few lying around!

To make this paint/glue I used:

- To get any real satisfaction from it you'll also want to have some UV LEDs, I bought mine off of Ebay a couple of years ago. I think I got 100 for about $5... some didn't work, you can test them with a coin cell battery and just get rid of the ones that don't.

- A highlighter/Florescent liquid chalk marker (I used yellow, others work as well, test out how good the glow is first by drawing on some paper and shining a couple UV LEDs on it)

- Some white glue that dries clear (translucent), quick dry might be a good idea (I didn't have any of that though)

Optional ingredients:

- Water

- Utility knife

Picture1-2: Open highlighter

Picture 3: Pull out the sponge that is saturated with that florescenty goodness

Picture 4: Pour a little bit of warm water into a sealable container (I put in 1 tbsp, but if I do it again, I'll probably use a bit less). let the highlighter sponge soak in the water until it is bright with florescent color. Then take the sponge out and wring out any extra drops. Then add in the glue and mix thoroughly (I used 3 tbsp).

*If you're using a florescent liquid marker you can just leak the stuff out by pressing the tip down (you might not even need water in this case).

Picture 5: Shine some UV LEDs on it in a dark place to see if there's enough POW to your creation... if not, put a drop or two of more water in the sponge and squeeze out more color and mix again. Keep the lid on the container when you can, this will prevent it from drying up too fast.

Picture 6&7: This time I'm using a candy container that I had lying around for the light housing. This one is great because it's translucent and will make the effect that much clearer. Begin pouring the mixture in the casing for your light and move it around to coat all interior walls. Repeat this every once and a while to ensure an even coating on all sides.

Picture 8: When it's dry it should look something like this.

Picture9&10: In picture 9 we see the UV light passing through the light housing without the paint/glue. Look how awesome picture 10 is in comparison!

Step 10: Making a Tap-light Lantern

So maybe you don't have a 3D printer but you still want to make your own tap-light, no problem.

Here's a list of things I got mostly from an craft supply store that I used to build tap light pictured above.

  • Some balsa wood - It's light and easy to cut through, it is fragile though (you can use other woods too)
  • The simple circuit from step 3 of this instructables. I've opted to use a 9V battery and a different style of locking push button for this lantern, but you can use whatever you have. A couple of the measurements will be different if you use a different battery and/or push button, but I'll let you know when we get there.
  • A coil binder used as springs
  • some paper to cover the frame and diffuse the light
  • a Utility knife (or other appropriate cutting device if you decide to make your light form another material)
  • a pencil
  • a ruler

Step 11: Measuring Out the Base Lide and Support Structure

Picture 1 &2:

Here I've measured and cut out 2 pieces of balsa wood measuring 9.5x0.7x0.7cm. One will be for the base of the light fixture and the other for the lid. You can make it what ever size you like, but you should keep in mind that you should be able to wrap the length of a piece of paper around it (unless you have other plans for what to use as a light shade)

Picture 3:

You'll need 4 support columns for your lantern. These are measured 9.8x0.7x0.7cm in size.

Picture 4:

Sand down any rough parts.

Step 12: Connecting the Base and Columns


Outline the on each corner of the base and lid a 0.7cm square by tracing the column. If your pieces aren't exactly 0.7cm in size, keep track of which columns you traced correspond to which corner of the base and lid.

Picture 2:

Cut out and sand the squares you just outlined.

Picture 3:

Glue the support columns to the base. Try to keep them as perpendicular to the base as possible (straight up). DO NOT glue lid to the columns , you'll need it to be free so it can move up and down when you push the light on and off.

Step 13: Springs

Picture 1:

If you're using coil binding, cut 3 pieces at 9.5cm in length (assuming you're making it the same height as this one).


Double check to see if they're a good length or need to be trimmed a bit more(it's better if they're a bit too long versus too short though).

Picture 3:

Glue the springs to the base and lid in a triangle formation. If they're too unruly, you can bunch up a few of the coils and glue them in that position. If you bunch them up too much though, your light will shrink.

Step 14: The Simple Circuit

Picture 1:
Here we have a modified version of the circuit you learned how to make in steps 2 & 3 of this instructables. The difference here is the 9V battery and the different style of locking push switch. These is an optional changes, you can use whichever batteries you want that can power LEDs and either style of locking push-button.

You'll want to make sure that the push button is the tallest point of the circuit. It's not mandatory, but it'll make some of the following steps easier.


Curl the leads around the battery so they are secure and test the circuit.

*I'm using ultra bright warm white LEDs here.

Step 15: Extending the Button

Picture 1:

Place the battery on the base in between the two springs that are lined up beside each other.

Picture 2:

Measure how much space there is between the push-button and the lid. (This measurement was a little over 3.2cm for me, but will change depending on the battery and switch you use.)

Picture 3:

Measure and cut out a piece of balsa wood that is the length of the space between the push button and the lid.

Step 16: Putting Everything Together

Picture 1:

Place the battery and piece of balsa you just cutout in between the lid and base of the light frame. Try pressing the top of the frame a few times. If the light is turning on and off great! If it's sticking, try sanding down the small piece of balsa wood (that you just cut out last step) a little bit and try again. Continue doing this until your light is working reliably.

Picture 2-4:

Mark with pencil where your battery is and where the small piece of balsa wood is, then secure with glue.

Picture 5:

Carefully cut, and/or sand down columns so they are level with the lid.

Step 17: Making a Cover for Your Light

Picture 1:

Measure and make note of the the perimeter and height of your light frame

Picture 2:

Here I used an 8 1/2x11'' sheet of paper. I didn't have to cut the paper lengthwise (since you want a little bit of overlap), but The page had to be cut width-wise to fit the light frame's height. Crease the paper for every corner of the lightfixture (you can do this with the measurements you just took), then tape in place with some scotch tape.

Picture 3&4:

Congratulations you've completed your lantern tap-light!

Thanks again for viewing this instructable. I hope you enjoyed it, and if so, please share it

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    8 Discussions


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! I really like the Oreo cookie bed you made your dog :)


    6 years ago

    I have some leds that change from red to green if you reverse the current. They came out of a computer case btw


    6 years ago

    How about to put the same "light" in the opposite corner of the case? Thus, you can mix colors (if installed LEDs of different colors), or adjust the intensity (LEDs of the same color) by clicking on the different corners of the body. Places like enough room for 4 colors :) Otherwise, you can always pick up the body a little more.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    If you wanted the light to change colors, fade, etc, I think something like an arduino pro mini or a digispark would work well. That adds to the cost of the light and the space it takes up within it though.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, you can add more LEDs of the same or different colors. You can connect them all to the same switch too, I'll update how to do that soon.