In this tutorial, you'll learn how to build light up 3D designs using the Glow Circuit Assembly, which combines a light emitting diode (LED) and a coin cell battery. It's a simple way to incorporate a bit of light into your Tinkercad designs. We provide the 3D model for the circuit holder and cutout, and you incorporate it into infinite glowing fun!
- An LED (shown is 10mm white, but feel free to choose your own from Sparkfun, Adafruit, Amazon)
- A 3V Coin Cell Battery (CR2032 available from Sparkfun, Adafruit, Amazon)
IMPORTANT: Coin cell batteries can cause serious injury if swallowed. Keep coin cell batteries out of reach of small children!
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Step 1: 3D Print the Glow Holder
Open up a new 3D design in Tinkercad, then click the Shapes Panel dropdown and select Circuit Assemblies from the list of Tinkercad Shapes.
Move a Glow holder to the workplane. You'll notice that scaling is locked, so you can't resize it. This restriction is in place because specific, real life, electronic components need to fit into the holder.
Notice how for each circuit assembly, there is a corresponding Cutout. The cutout makes a space inside your design where the printed holder will reside. It provides the perfect size of hole needed achieve a good press fit when the Glow holder is placed into your printed object. For more guidance on incorporating the Glow Cutout into your Tinkercad designs, check out Paige Russell's free 3D Printing with Circuits Class.
Export the holder as a .STL file to prepare for printing, or download the file attached to this step. When you import the Move holder onto the Tinkercad workplane, illustrations of the electrical components are shown, but will not export/print along with the holder. They are there only so you can see where the components sit in the holder.
Now it's time to 3D print your parts! Our recommended settings are 20% fill with raft enabled, with supports disabled.
Step 2: Trim LED Legs
Notice that one leg of the LED is longer than the other. This is to indicate which pin is positive and which one is negative. The longer pin is positive (+) and will correspond with '+' side of the coin battery used to power the LED.
The length of the pins as they come are too long to fit into the Glow assembly. Use the wire cutters to snip off the shorter negative (-) pin so that it's about 1/2 - 5/8" long.
Step 3: Add the Coin Cell Battery
Pick up your coincell CR2032 battery, and align the positive side (labelled "+") with the “+” indicator on the printed holder. Once inserted, the battery interacts with the two small grooves to create spaces just the right side for the leads of an LED, sandwiching them together.
Step 4: Add the LED & Glow!
Insert the LED from the top, making sure that the longer (positive) leg lines up with the “+” indicator on the holder.
Gently push the LED all the way in until the bottom of the plastic 'bulb' sits flush with the top of the holder.
Your LED should now light up!
If it is not lighting up, try flipping it around. Make sure that your battery and LED are inserted in the correct direction aligned with the “+” on the holder.
To turn off your glow assembly, remove the LED.
Step 5: Next, Try...
Congratulations, now you know how to build the Glow Circuit Assembly! Inside Tinkercad, access the Circuit Assemblies in their own category in the Shapes Panel. If you'd like a guided tour inside the editor, try out the Tinkercad Glow lesson.
What would you illuminate with this design? Let us know in the comments, and also try out other circuit assemblies like Move. Here are some ideas to get your imagination going: