LED Hardrive Desk Lamp




Introduction: LED Hardrive Desk Lamp

This project started as a simple lamp you could attach to a 6volt battery in times of need, or hide it behind something and use it as a desk lamp. The 6v battery I had died so I resolved to do something more spectacular and use a hard drive. So lets get started.

Note, i'm not going to go over every detail or the basics of electronics for this tutorial.

What you will need to build this:
12 LEDs - Mine were from a set of LED Christmas lights, so they had built in diffusers
1 Phone Charger, 5.9v and at least 240ma
10 Ohm Resistor
IDE ribbon cable
1 Dead Hardrive
Wire - RJ45 or similar works well
Flexible/Hollow metal arm
Little metal pail, or similar to act as the shade
A/B Switch
Heat shrink tubing (optional)
Soldering iron and solder
Dremil with sand paper bit, drill bit, and Abrasive Wheel (optional)
Epoxy (I used JBweld)
Super Glue for tacking (optional)

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Step 1: Hard Drive Tear-Down and Prep

1. Dremil a line into the top of all the hex screws on top of the hard drive so you can use a flat head on them.

2. Remove the tape around the outer edge, and any stickers. It helps to use a solvent to remove that stuff.

3. Open it up and remove the guts of the drive (keep the magnets and other things for other projects).

4. Remove the circuit board from the other side, ensure there's a way to pass wire through the bottom to the inside of the hardrive.

5. Enlarge the hole in the lid above where the motor sits. Stick the metal arm through the hole and epoxy it in place.

6. Cut another hole in the top for the button.

Step 2: Build the Shade

1. Drill a hole in the side of your shade with your favorite power tool large enough to fit the wires through from the metal arm.

2. Trim the top of of the shade off (optional).

3. Use the Dremel Abrasive Wheel bit on the outside (optional).

4. Attach it to the flexible metal arm and epoxy around it and pull the wires through.

Step 3: LED Assembly

1.1 Take an IDE cable apart like so - https://www.instructables.com/id/Bread-Board-from-IDE-Cables/
1.2 Put in 4 LEDs in a row then mark and cut them, do this 3 times.
1.3 Bend the metal pins down, solder wires across them to make rows.
1.4 Super glue the LEDs to the breadboard and the breadboards together like in the picture to make a square.
1.5 Attach required resistor to the negative side.

Resistor Math for my setup:
R=7.91 Ohms (I used 10)

2. Solder the wires coming from the shade to the LED array and use heat shrink tubing on the connection (optional).

3. Before gluing in place, always test the LEDs.

4. Glue something box-like between the array and the shade so the circuit doesn't short (last image). I used a random piece of blocky plastic and will epoxy it all in place before finished.

Step 4: Setup the Power

However you decide to power it (usb, batteries, etc), the rest is the same.

1. Feed the power cables in through the bottom of the hard drive and strip the cables.

2. Solder the negative side to the button, and the negative cable from the LEDs to the button as well.

3. Strip the positive cable and solder it to the positive cable going to the LEDs and use heat shrink tubing to prevent a short circuit.

4. Test it.

5. Screw the lid back on.

Step 5: Complete

This project started 6v battery work light/desk lamp. The battery died, and the original shade broke. In rebuilding it into something different I learned a lot. Hope it gives you some ideas. Thanks for checking it out!

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    8 Discussions


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Just made one but with a twist.

    A 3 position 2 pole switch (RadioShack) gives me OFF, Half Brite, and Full ON,... for this just treat each group like a different string and parallel them in full bright mode. Just remember each string needs its own current limiting resistor.

    I could not find the flex tubing and BX wire is TOO flexible, so I found that the chromed copper tubing that feeds a toilet is flexible yet stiff enough for the purpose.

    My base was an old PC power supply painted white with all extra wires removed, wish id seen this first, the HD makes a better looking base.  

    The current is so low i could remove the fan with no problems.

    The hood is a small white plastic kitchen bowl with a very light spray of metal flake green paint on the inside. This gives a soft green glow and good white light below.

    By the By; as of this posting www.sparkfun.com has a 25, 120,000 mcd LEDs bundle for about $7.50. They are about 3500 to 4000 color temperature at 24mA.

    I tried LED Xmas string lights but they are not as bright..... Either way the higher the mcd rating the brighter.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    A beautiful design and creative implementation.  I really like it.
    Where can I get a flexible neck tube like that?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you, I salvaged it from a dollar store light. So I do not know where you can pick one up.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    were these super bright leds do you know? thanks mdog


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Super bright, no. They came from a string of LED Christmas lights and they have built in defusers. For this purpose they are too dim. If I change them out this will probably get measurably brighter.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    so this lamp you made isn't very bright? n ot even bright enought to read or something/ use as a spotlight for delicate work etc. mdog


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    It's plenty bright to read by if your near it. Again it's the LEDs I used, regular LEDs would be much brighter since they don't have built in diffuser like these do.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    ok cool, i have been trying to search around for led lamps to see how many leds i might have to use if i made one.