LED Hula Hoop




Some friends wanted a lighted hula hoop for burningman, and when they turned out to be about $200 each, I decided to make one. All the parts cost about $15 . . . total time to make the hoop was about 3 hours, but that included time for figuring things out. You could probably make one in less than 2 hours with this instructable and soldering skills . . .

12' - polyethylene tubing
1x tubing connector
6x LED's (or more if you like)
6x 69ohm resistors (calculate for your LED's)
6x LED holders
14'x2 copper wire
1x mini switch
1x AAA battery holder (2xbatteries, 3Volts)
assorted heat shrink
random paperclips

Step 1: Make Your Own Hoop

I can't claim credit for figuring out how to make the hoop itself. For that, see the JasonUnbound website http://www.jasonunbound.com/hoops.html. There, you'll find excellent instructions on making a great hoop! As for materials, I got my tubing and connector from US Plastics. I ended up getting a 100 foot roll of the 1" PE Flexible Pipe Not-NSF Listed 80 psi. Ended up making about 8 hoops with this, so on a per hoop basis, it's pretty cheap!

When making your hoop, there is one modification that needs to be done to the JasonUnbound version: File/cut off the ridges on one side of the tube connector. Cutting off most of the ridges as shown in the pic will allow you to take the tube apart when you need to replace the batteries, but still keep the tube together while hooping.

Step 2: Drill LED Holes

The hoop shown in the intro pictures had 3 LED's facing outwards, and 3 more LED's facing upwards to sorta "highlight" the hooper. Plan out your configuration and mark the hoop before drilling! I used a 1/4" drill bit, and drilled completely through the tube (you'll see why later).

Once you've drilled your holes, run a pair of copper wires through the length of your tube, leaving about 2 feet of extra length. I used a twisted pair scavenged from some old ethernet cables for this.

Step 3: Running Wires Through the Hoop

Make a handy wire pulling tool from a paperclip as shown in the pic. Now, you're ready to start wiring the LED's, starting from one end, working towards the end that has the 2 extra feet of wire.

With the wire pulling tool, fish around in the tube and pull the wiring through the first 1/4" hole. Since this is the end of the wire, pull it all the way out . . . an LED/resistor can be directly soldered to the end (next step). The rest of the wires should be pulled out only a few inches, enough for you to work with.

Once pulled out, cut the positive(+) wire, and stripped a section of the ground (-) wire. Strip both ends of the cut +wire and twist them back together. I didn't want to cut both wires, for fear that they'd accidentally pull back in the tube and cause me wire-fishing stress. The auto-wirestripper shown is one of the handiest tools I've ever bought!

Step 4: Soldering the LED's

Once you've got a wire pulled, solder a resistor (I used 69ohm) to the lead of your LED. Once again, another type of paperclip comes in handy.

Now slip a 1" length of heat shrink tubing over the twisted pair of +wires. The heat shrink should be able to fit over your resistor. I use a clip to hold the heat shrink in place, since it'll start shrinking if it gets too close when you're soldering the lead.

Next, solder the +wires to the other end of the resistor (see pics), and the -wire to the ground lead of the LED. I calculated my resistor value to be 75ohms, but the closest I could find was 69ohm. You may need a different value depanding on your LED's. Here's a quick LED resistor calculator that I used.

Clip the leads, and pull the heat shrink tubing over the entire +wire assembly (LED lead, resistor, +wire) as you don't want your +/- shorting together while hooping!

Step 5: Mount LED's

Next, mount the LED's in a 1/4" LED Holder . . . I got mine from Radio Shack, part #276-079. First , shove the LED assembly you just soldered, back into the 1/4" hole, just below the surface of the hole.

Then, snap the LED holder into the 1/4" hole you drilled. Now, while making sure the LED holder doesn't pop out, use a small rod (I used an old drill bit) to snap the LED into the LED holder from the back. This is where the hole through the entire hoop comes in handy! You should feel the LED snap into place.

Feel free to test your LED wiring at any time . . . you don't need to wire up the whole circuit before testing!

REPEAT STEPS 3-5 for all the LED's you plan on putting in

Step 6: Wire Switch and Batteries

Find a small switch, just about any switch will do . . . the crappier, the better actually, as long as it's tiny. In order to keep the hoop relatively flat all around, I cut off the switch "handle" until it was slightly more than flush with the main switch body. With a little bit of thumb friction, it's still easy to turn on/off.

For the switch hole, I drilled a 3/8" hole, then filed it square with a set of mini-files.

Next wire, the switch (don't forget heat shrink!) and the batteries. The batteries should be wired to original 2ft excess end, out the end of the hoop as shown.

As always, feel free to test as you go! Sucks to wast heat shrink!

Step 7: Finishing Up

Once you've turned everything on to make sure all LED's light up, it's time to button'er up! Slide the AAA battery holder in the end of the hoop, and connect the hoop together.

The switch should be snug in it's spot, but just to be sure, place some electrical tape around the tabs and hoop to keep the switch from flying out.

Happy Hooping!



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    72 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Check out the ZL Hoop and see up close images how some of the different parts are put together.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    For the person that had the question regarding the PSI tubing... It does matter in a way~ the different PSI's all have a different strength, stiffness, and weight to them... The higher the PSI the heavier they are and better for the beginner Hooper (160 PSI) or the Hooper looking for a workout hoop... A 100 PSI or 80 PSI would be a good dance hoop and have a faster reaction time and be springier and better suited for children, as well (if you wanted to make one for a child). There is also a considerable difference in cost at the local home improvement stores when you go from a 125 PSI or 100 down to 80~ saving usually $30-$40 on a 100' coil.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Great tutorial - I'm going to give it a shot.

    A few questions:
    1) Where do you get the LED holders (site/store, model)? I tried googling but couldn't find.

    2) If I wanted to use 24 LED's instead of 6, would I need more batteries? What would suffer, brightness or battery life?

    3) I noticed that JasonUnbound recommends 100psi tubing and you used 80psi. Any difference - better or worse?


    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    They got the led clips from Radio Shack, part #276-079.
    If you used more leds the battery life would be shorter (you could use more batteries and higher value resistors for better battery life).
    The psi number should not matter, psi stands for pressure per square inch so higher psi means thicker or stronger pipe.


    8 years ago on Step 7

    I want to make one. but i think my niece would peel the tape of around the switch can you think of a more secure way of fitting it onto the hoop? maybe super glue?

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 7

    Possible to superglue it, but superglue can eat certain plastics. It might work to use the little tiny bolts and nuts that come with the switch, but the switch would have to be close to the end and still out of the way of the insert.

    Use duct tape and superglue it to itself, that might work.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Maybe hot glue would work. I recently bought a 10w mini glue gun for only £4.
    It has high and low temperature settings.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Here is some battery advice from a new LED hoop maker on the block (me):

    Product: Li-ion 18650 Cylindrical Rechargeable Cell: 3.7V 2200mAh (8.14Wh) -- Made in China

    Product Link: http://www.batteryspace.com/li-ion18650cylindricalrechargeablecell37v2200mah814wh--madeinchina.aspx

    I searched high and low across the internet for the best batteries for my DIY project. My goal was to make a Hula Hoop with lights in it. Common hoops on the market have 3 batteries in parallel spaced throughout the hoop. I wanted to reduce assembly time and only use one battery. The obvious choice was to use Lithium-Ion technology over Alkaline batteries. Using only one battery will not oly reduce the assembly costs, but time, and number of wires needed to run throughout the hoop.

    It wasn't until I found BatterySpace.com that I was able to find this battery. The Li-ion 18650 Cylindrical Rechargeable Cell: 3.7V 2200mAh (8.14Wh) -- Made in China turned out to be the perfect battery for me. It wasn't purpleish-blue as in the picture, but the green that it came to me in wasn't a factor. The 18650 dimensions, 2200 mAh capacity, lithium-ion, rechargability, weight and price were all factors in deciding to use this battery. I was a bit sceptical as this battery is cheaper than the others offered on BatterySpace.com that are assembled in Japan or Korea, but there was only one way to find out how reliable and durable these units are. I ordered them with the optional tabs and these were also of high quality. My first order consisted of 7 batteries, and my second 25. I haven't had a problem with any of the first 7. So, the true test of quality and workmanship with be known with the batch of 25. I am extremely confident that I will have no problems. I spoke over the phone with a customer service representative and learned about their QA process. Each battery is individually tested before it is shipped. When I heard this, I knew I had found a good company and was happy to purchase from them. Furthermore, BatterySpace is located in the San Francisco Bay Area and I was able to pick up my order on the same day. Supporting the local economy and having the convenience of same day service puts BatterySpace at the top of my list.

    I was also able to find a charger for this battery that is compact and fool-proof. After assembling my project and taking it out to field test it, I couldn't have been happier with my decision. My project isn't the softest on batteries and impacts are not uncommon. A hula hoop can get pretty beat up! But, I have yet to experience one problem with these batteries, and I couldn't be more enthused. This is going to help me complete prototyping of my project faster and more successfully. Thanks again, BatterySpace. I've already placed a second order, and it's only a matter of time before I place my third and forth and so on!

    Capacity - 2200 mAh
    Tabs (optional)

    Made in China - no problems for me, but could become a potential issue with larger order

    2 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I'm a little concerned with these batteries,. i ordered a couple and afterwards realized they we're raw li-ion cells without a built in PCB,.  did you build your own protection circuit or are you going without? How are they holding up 6 months later? Regardless,  people should know these batteries sold as listed in your link can be dangerous (blowing-up in flames kinda stuff) and proper caution should be exercised. 

    I seem to have stumbbled onto a significant flaw in this design. I am in the process of making this hoop, and I have completed everything up to the light array. So, I hooked up my first light, which would be my last light in the chain, so I am working towards the battery. And now, when I soldered the next light in the chain, and tested the power on them neither of them worked. But, when I tested each one individually they worked. From what I have read on basic LED circuits it only requires one resistor to right the whole voltage for the whole chain of lights. So, it would seem instead of several resistors on each LED, it should be one at the start of the chain. Can anyone who knows more about electronics than I do verify this? I am stuck, and would really like to get this done :)

    1 reply

    You'll want a resistor for each LED to be safe. Resistors have a maximum current and by using only one you'll run the risk of overheating.


    8 years ago on Step 7

    was it balanced with the batteries only in one place?


    8 years ago on Step 7

    That's amazing!! But how do you stop the batteries from sliding around in the hoop and gumming up all your wiring?

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 7

    try bubble wrap. see the instructibles on an EL wire hula hoop:


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This looks so cool but I am totally lost on the calculating resistors part. :(


    8 years ago on Introduction

    me again, id first like to say this is amazing, can i ask if i decided to up the led,s to 10 do i still need the same resisters but ten? and do i need more batterys if i had 10 leds or does it just meen the batteries wont last as long, or buy more powerful batterys? sorry about the 100 and 1 questions just am rearly interesterd in this. Hope you can help.