Introduction: Electric Light - LED Candle Hack
For that matter, why re-invent the candle? It's been around forever, works every time, and does what is says on the box! The Egyptians and Cretans were using candles made from beeswax, as early as 3000 BC. This Instructable then is really just a homage to an invention that has been around since the start of the Bronze Age when man first built cities and started to write.
So without further ado, please find below my attempt to improve on something that doesn't need improving on, whilst stealing someone else’s clever circuit (and idea) just so I can say "why re-invent the mousetrap?"
Step 1: Things to Gather
- Copper (any size copper wire will do, as long as you can bend it easily)
- Led candle (you can get these on eBay here or at any $2 shop)
***A note on the LED Candle***
These are really simple but cool idea which allows a led light to flicker just like a candle. The circuit is quite simple and if you feel up to it you can also make your own. Check out Make Magazines one here
- Light globes (the best are the ones used for the rear lights in cars)
- Solar panel (min 4.5v)
- 3 x AAA re-chargeable batteries
- Red and black wires
- Soldering iron
- Pliers (all types, especially needle nose ones)
- Hot glue gun
Step 2: Lets Get Started - Step 1
1. First you need to bend the copper in the right positions. This will form the basis of the electric candle and will also be the battery holder.
2. Tape the rechargeable batteries up and use these as a template to bend the copper around to make the battery holder below.
3. The way to do this is to wrap the copper around once and then make a loop (which will be one of the handles). Do the same on the other side. Make sure you get everything as even as possible.
4. With the handles, I wanted to make these different sizes so one of the loops is bigger than the other one. It's up to you if you want to do this or not.
5. You will also need to bend the ends of the handles so they wrap around your finger when carrying the candle.
Step 3: Step - 3 - Solder the Battery Holders
To keep everything stable, it's best to add solder to the loops:
1. Once you have made both loops and everything looks pretty straight it's time to solder the battery holder.
2. Solder the joints as shown; making sure that the battery holder’s aren’t too tight (you want the batteries to be able to fit!)
Step 4: Step 4 - Adding the Legs
1. Next is to solder the legs onto the body of the electric candle.
2. To do this you need to make a circle out of the copper wire and cut these to make half circles. To make the circle use a can of paint, hairspray, whatever you have around and wrap the wire around it.
3. Cut the copper in 2 equal halves.
4. Make sure you grind the ends smooth to ensure steady feet.
5. Solder onto the bottom of the battery holder. This is tricky - you want to make sure that they are at the same angle to one another and that they sit straight. If the main body doesn't sit right, either trim the legs or re-solder straight. It might take a few turns but keep at it.
Step 5: Step - 5 Sorting Out the Batteries and Soldering the Ends
Ok - now it's time to add the batteries to the body of the electric candle. I really like the look of the batteries without their covers. The problem with removing these is you start to short circuit everything once they are put into the battery holders. To get around this do the following:
1. Remove the covers around the batteries.
2. Wrap the batteries in clear tape
3. Trim excess tape.
4. Put them into the battery holders. Be careful not to catch the tape and rip it.
5. Hopefully the fit is tight. If not - don't worry too much, once you solder the end together it should make them fit better.
6. Next is to connect the ends. This will join all of the batteries up to make 1 4.5V battery with 1 positive and 1 negative end.
7. Solder some copper as shown on each end and also add a small length of copper to each of the terminal ends, This will allow you to attach the solar panel (more of that later).
8. On one of the ends of the terminals, solder on an on/off switch. I used the one that came with the led candle. The orientation of the switch is up to you. First I had this horizontal but later changed it to sit vertical as this moved it out of the way.~
Step 6: Step 6 - Removing the Important Bits From the Led Candle
1. Remove the wax around the plastic on the bottom of the candle
2. Work free the plastic bottom with a screwdriver
3. Remove the microphone and led from the wax part of the candle
Step 7: Step 7 - Attaching the Microphone and Led to the Curcuit
In the following steps you need to be careful. Make sure that the soldering iron isn't too hot or you will blow the circuit.
1. Remove the led and microphone from the circuit board. Take notice of where everything goes. I found it helped to make a template of the circuit board on some paper to make sure I didn't get muddled up.
2. First you need to cut some wire like you did for the legs. Only this time you need to make the semi circles smaller - as shown.
3. Solder these onto the circuit board making sure that they are as straight and parallel as possible.
4. Solder on the microphone. Make sure that it is soldered on correctly with the positive on positive and negative on negative. A good way to make sure you don't mess this up is to cut one of the wires from the circuit and tie a knot in it. This way you can remember which terminal it belongs to.
5. Next you need to add some straight pieces of copper for the LED.
6. Cut 2 equal lengths of copper and grind off the ends to make flat.
7. Solder onto the circuit board, making sure everything is straight. Take your time, you, might have to try few times to get this right.
8. Add the LED. shorten the legs on the led and make sure it is correctly aligned~
Step 8: Step 8 - Attaching the Circuit to the Battery Holder
On the circuit board that came with my led candle, there was a un-soldered section which wasn't used for anything. This was the perfect place to add some solder and attached to the body of my electric candle
1. First add some solder to the end of the copper wire that will attach to the circuit
2. Carefully solder on the circuit
3. Next add the wires to the circuit board which will be attached to the batteries. I made a feature of these wires instead of trying to hide them.
4. Solder the ends of the wires to the battery ends.
5. Test to make sure everything is working OK
Step 9: Step 9 - Sorting Out the Light Globe to Use
This part is probably the hardest part and will take some practice runs before you get it right. You'll probably get it first time and I'll look like a right nob - so here goes:
1. Find a good shaped globe. I used rear car light globes as these are easy to get.
2. I went out and brought some globes and then went ahead and broke these pretty much straight away. Next I went to a wrecker and got pocket loads of the things so I could experiment a lot more without worrying about breaking them.
3. You need to remove the sliver end. To do this, break the black glass on the end or use a pair of pliers to cut straight through the tin.
4. Once this has been removed, you will then need to remove the cement that was used to hold the tin end in place. I used a fine wire brush on my grinder to do this. Obviously be careful -- its glass!
5. So now you are left with just the globe. You need to clear out the centre of the globe and this is where is can go horribly wrong. Be really careful and try not to remove the whole centre - you'll just crack the glass. All you want to do is to make enough room so the led can fit nicely into the globe. I did remove the whole centre for one of the candles and managed not to crack the globe but it was pure luck.
6. In one of the pictures below you can see that I was going to go with an orange globe that I pulled out of a car. I thought it would glow a nice orange but it didn’t really work so I went with the smaller globe on the right.
7. Once you have decided which globe you want to use and have removed the tin end, attach it to the led with some hot glue.
8. There are Instructables which go into more detail about hollowing out a light globe if you need mor information.
Step 10: Step -10 Making a Solar Charger
1. Attach a diode to the positive end of the solar panel.
2. Attach wires to the negative and positive ends.
3. Attach alligator clips to the ends of the wires. This will make it easy to attach to the electric candle.
4. Hot glue down the connections on the solar panel.
5. I next made a hinge and arm with some copper tubing that I had lying around. Check out the images below on how I did it. Once it was done, I hot glued that mother to the solar panel.
6. Check out the Instructable below for more details on how to make a solar charger~
Step 11: Step 11 - Phew!- Your Finished
See not too hard! Now you have an electric light candle that looks great, and adds a really beautiful ambient light to any room.
The design that I came up with is pretty basic, you can pretty much do want you want in regards to how you want your electric candle to look. If you do get around to having a go at making one of these - make sure that you post a picture so I can check it out!
So after all of this - "why re-invent the mousetrap?"
Because I can.