For my first instructable, I want to share a quick and simple project that I recently made as part of a birthday present for my wife. It's easy to build and can be done in just a few hours.
At our home, we've been talking about how the entry and main hallway is rather dark. So, during a recent walk around town, we agreed to pickup a nightlight or even small entry lamp. But as we went from store to store, strangely there were nothing to be found. When the local hardware store also didn't have anything, I got the bright idea to try to build one instead. What we wanted was low intensity LED lamp to reduce the wattage and heat and hopefully it would also have a nice design.
Originally, as we began walking around the hardware store brainstorming ideas, I was already thinking how I could make this into an elaborate electronics project. However, in the electrical section, I found that I could easily get a LED bulb that would fit a standard E12 (nightlight) socket. Expediency quickly won out over intricacy.
The best part of the project was to run around the store and try to re-purpose items for the lamp. Example, for the shade, we also looked at cheese grater, mesh utensil holders, before finally deciding on a paperclip dispenser turned upside down. Similarly, the cork base was sold as floor padding for heavy furniture or pianos.
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Step 1: Collect Your Parts and Tools.
Of course, this instructable might need to altered depending on the found/re-purposed items you decide to use but for our lamp, here are the parts we used.
- C7 Accent LED bulb (under 0.5 watts)
- E12 White lamp socket
- Think cork base (9 cm x 9 cm x 3 cm)
- Mesh paperclip dispenser (7 cm sphere with a 3 cm opening which seems a nice size for C7 bulb)
- White lamp cord (low ampere is fine here. the bulb pulls under 0.5 watts)
- Low profile electrical plug
- Heat-shrink tubing (preferably white)
- White electrical tape (if your shrink wrap is the wrong color)
- In-line switch
- Carving tools (awl, hobby knife, etc)
- Wire stripper or a good knife
- Soldering gun/iron and solder
- Heatgun or lighter
Step 2: Punch a Hole in the Base and Friction Fit the Socket
I was told to be very careful when trying to drill through the cork because it tears out very easily. If you do have experience on how best to do this, please leave a comment below.
Anyway, this was not even an issue for me because I don't have access to a workshop and my tools are limited. But thankfully, even if you make a pretty ugly hole like mine, the socket will cover up most of the mess.
- Mark the center of the top and bottom face.
- Measure the socket base (mine was about 1 cm)
- Use that measurement to make a circle around each center mark
- Carve a small hole by working from both sides until there is a clear opening
- Begin carefully opening the hole keep testing fitting the socket
- Finally, insert the socket. It should hold with simply a friction fit.
Note: if you mess up the surface of one face or make the hole too big, try flipping the piece and hide the mistake by making it the bottom.
Step 3: Wire the Plug
For this project, a low profile plug was needed since the nearest outlet was in the hallway and we wanted it to hug the wall as much as possible to avoid tripping on the cord. Because of this we needs to buy lamp cord and an low profile plug. However, if this wasn't the case, I would have simply bought a cheap extension cord and cut off the end.
- Unscrew and open the plug
- Strip the wires
- (Optional: Tin them with the soldering iron)
- Screw them in place.
- Reassemble the plug
Again, buy a cheap extension cord could save you this step.
Step 4: Solder Time
Now, we need to connect the lamp cord to the lamp socket. In this application, it'll require splicing the wires together.
- Cut and slip the heat shrink on FIRST.
(Note: my wrong-colored heat shrink, classy)
- Strip the wires about 1/2 inch or 1 cm
- Splice the wires
(Note: that is one poor attempt at a lineman splice.)
- Tin the wires with the soldering gun/iron
(Note: If you're having trouble getting the solder to flow. Your soldering iron might be under-powered. I had this problem when trying to use my electronics soldering iron)
- Apply heat to the heat-shrink tubing
(Note; heat gun works well. But most of use resort to using a lighter)
- If needed, further cover your mistakes with white electric tape
Looking at this now, this would have been a good place for the inline switch.
Step 5: Carve a Channel for the Cord and Test
OK, just a few more touches and we're done...
- Carve a channel in the bottom of the base so that the lamp can set flat.
- Optional: Add some form of cable retention
(Since this is such a lightweight project I didn't see the need.)
- Screw in the bulb
- Simply set the shade over the bulb
- Time to plug it in and test the connections.
Step 6: Final Installation
This build went amazingly quick. I was able to complete it within a few hours. And I was surprised how nice this project turned out. The accent LED bulb has a nice warm color is actually brighter than I would have thought. Plus, it stays very cool to touch even after continuous operation for several weeks now.
If I were to do it again...
- I think I would add an in-line switch to try avoid the look of the spliced wires.
- Although the mesh shade looks great just set in place, it has this weird tenacity to move around and not stay perfectly centered. Honestly I can't see any reason for this. But I think an indent in the cork base might eliminate that movement.
- The heart of this project was quick and simple... But secretly, I'd still love to find a way to complicate it with sound or motion detection, etc.
Thanks for reading this. Again, this was my first instructable. I'm looking forward to read what you think about it in the comments.