LED Light




Introduction: LED Light

About: I love making stuff, I love Instructables, I love tools, I love machines, and I love materials. But most of all I love Arnie.
This is a KS4 Engineering project that my year 10's do (14 year olds). It gives the students choice and the opportunity to work creatively. The outcome is a quality product that works well, most importantly at the end of the project all the students will want to take their work home......empty work box = awesome project.

The students can choose either to make a desk light which is more functional, or a mood light which is more aesthetic. Check out the video to see how the magnetic switch adds extra awesomeness to the product.

Learning Objective

Students will design and make either a functional or decorative light. The design process reflects how professional design engineers work by teaching students creative designing skills to produce a unique and original design idea, and then how to make a virtual prototype using 3D CAD software. To stretch and challenge the students the project introduces more advanced measuring and marking skills, metal fabrication and forming, the properties of thermo / thermosetting plastics and how to manipulate their properties to make the design. The students will be introduced into basic electronic components and will be required to neatly house the circuit in their lamp. Lastly the students are required to recall and apply prior learning and knowledge of using engineering machinery and joining methods.

Project info

This project costs approximately £2.50 per student
I have attached the project work sheets

Teacher Notes

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Step 1: Creative Designing

Nature is by far the best engineer, it creates the strongest structures, it makes the most beautiful designs, and its secrets have been the inspiration of many historic and iconic engineering achievements..........so we will use it to inspire our designs. Ask the students to bring in images to inspire their work.... some suggestions below.
  • Sliced Peppers
  • Sliced Oranges
  • Any tropical fruit....sliced
  • Architectural plants (see photos)
  • Any other natural item that has a structure or pattern e.g. wood grain
Rearrange, remove, overlap, repeat, twist, combine, modify.............these are the tools of creativity.... use them liberally.  

If you look at the 'Ideas' page you can see that the design does not look like the inspiration image, this does not matter, the images are there to inspire shapes......there is no right or wrong here......if you end up with a design......mission accomplished :)

Step 2: Card Model

Give the students pre cut card to the size of the materials provided

Blue card    = 155 x 110mm
Black card  = 155 x 110mm
White card  = 130 x 125mm

Using glue guns, tape etc...shape the card by hand to assemble a model of their design idea.

If any issues have been discovered from making the model make the required changes  and create the 3D final design. This allows the students to practice their isometric sketching and also allows them to apply their engineering knowledge to annotate the page. I encourage the students to use exploded and cross-sectional drawings to help communicate their ideas.

Step 3: 3D Final Design

Create a final design page, its important that the students add design detail of how the design is going to be made. This makes your life much easier as a teacher because it makes the students more independent in the workshop if they know how to make their design. Use the following to communicate the design details.
  • 3D sketches
  • Exploded views
  • Cross-sections
  • 2D drawings

Step 4: 3D CAD

We use SolidWorks but if you don't have any 3D software there are free CAD packages like Autodesk's 123D or google sketchup..... Both of these can produce excellent results and its free for schools to use.

You can produce 2D working drawings from the 3D virtual model......these are useful when making.

This is an ideal opportunity to teach the students about the exam theory on the use of CAD/CAM in industry. there are plenty of short vids on you tube you can show which clearly show automated machinery and mass production

Step 5: Lamp - Aluminium Sheet

  • Using precut aluminium 110 x 155 x 1.2mm
  • Using the dimensions developed from the 3D virtual modelling stage measure and mark out the aluminium sheet. 
  • Centre punch the hole positions
  • Drill the holes at Ø4mm
  • De burr the holes
  • Use 150grit abrasive paper to give the aluminium a 'brushed' look

Step 6: Lamp - Aluminium Sheet

  • Shape the aluminium using rollers for curves and folding bars for right angles
  • Use 150grit abrasive paper to remove any marks from rolling

Step 7: Acrylic

  • Using precut acrylic 110 x 155 x 3mm the students need to mark out their design, the sheet can be cut into a shape or used complete.
  • Leave the protective film on the acrylic as this prevents scratches
  • Mark out the hole centres on the acrylic sheet using a biro.

Step 8: Drilling the Acrylic

  • Using a Ø5mm drill bit and a pillar drill create the two holes as per your marking out
  • Ensure goggles are worn, hair tied back and sleeves rolled up.
  • Drill slow and hold the acrylic down with a lot of pressure to avoid it shattering

Step 9: Sanding Acrylic

  • Use a sanding board with 150grit paper on it to remove saw marks from all four edges
  • I also used wet&dry paper to polish the edge

Step 10: Thermo-forming the Acrylic

  • Set an oven to 170oC / If you do not have an oven you can use a heat gun / paint stripper
  • We use aluminium formers, other options are MDF or Pine
  • I have a number of aluminium strips 110 x 155mm for the students to create a former for their design by rolling and folding. I keep all the formers so they can be reused/modified for next years group.
  • Put the acrylic and aluminium former in the oven and leave for 5mins.
  • Wearing heat proof gloves check to see if its ready by pushing the acrylic.....if its flexible, its ready
  • You sometimes have to use light pressure to hold the acrylic in place as it cools (See photo with two bits of wood)

Step 11: Lamp - Aluminium Tube

  • Provide the Ø38mm ally tubes pre cut 20mm bigger than the ally sheet
  • Face both ends
  • Use a half round file to remove the burrs inside the tube

Step 12: Lamp - Aluminium Tube

  • Use a digital calliper to accurately measure the diameter of the tube (i know its standard Ø38mm tube but the kids do not)
  • Place the tube in a V-Block and place on a flat surface like a marking out plate
  • Using a height gauge to measure the overall height of the tube + block (this measurement = X)
  • Take the tube diameter measured in the last step and divide by two to get the radius (this = r)
  • Do the sum X-r = Centre of tube  (my sum was 48-12.5 = 35.5mm) set the height gauge to this height and scribe the centre line of the tube

Step 13: Aluminium Tube - Marking the Hole Centres

Measuring from the bottom of the tube, then drill, using a V-Block, centre punch and drill

Bolt Holes Ø4.2mm
The bottom hole will be 20mm
The top hole will be 90mm

LED Holes Ø5mm
The bottom hole will be 30mm
The top hole will be 80mm

Step 14:

Using an M5 tap thread the four bolt holes

Step 15: Brushing the Ally Tube

Using a lathe set to low speed, and 150 grit abrasive paper......sand the tube. The second picture shows the difference between sanded and not sanded.

Swap the ends round and sand the bit that was in the chuck.

Step 16: Aluminium Dial - Turning

Parallel turn the top of the lamp on a metal lathe. Turn the cutting tool at a 45degree angle to cut the O-ring channel

Step 17: Aluminium Dial - Knurling

  • Knurl the grip....use low speed...(approx 100RPM)
  • Part off the work

Step 18: Aluminium Spacers

  • Use Ø8mm aluminium rod
  • Centre drill
  • Drill Ø5mm approx 30mm deep
  • Sand
  • Part off at 13mm
  • Repeat 3 more times

Step 19: Magnets

Use epoxy resin to stick on the Ø5x1mm neodymium magnets.

Step 20: Circuit

  • Using 4 super bright LED's, 360 ohm resistor, PP3 9v battery and the magnetic contact create the circuit as per the diagram.

Step 21: Insulate Wires

Use insulation tape to protect any exposed wire, you must do a good job of this as the LED legs are particularly vulnerable to shorting on the ally tube if not covered properly.

Step 22: Install Circuit

  • Carefully add the circuit to the ally tube.....careful is the word if you force the circuit you are likely to snap wires
  • I use a plumbing pipe clip to hold the reed switch in place

Step 23: Asssembly

  • Use M5x20mm bolts to assemble the aluminium and acrylic sides

Step 24: Students Work

Here are some examples of students practical and 3D CAD work, they made a version that is used to light up something on a desk e.g. Homework or keyboard etc... These examples are the first generation of this project and do not have reed switches.....just toggle switches. This years students will be including the reed switches.

The students work is graded on the following criteria
  • Quality of surface finish
  • Quality of fabrication and shaping of aluminium & acrylic
  • Creative thinking
  • Complexity of design
  • Technical detail on design page
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    33 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Great resource! I have just taken over an engineering class so think I am going to try this out with them!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    This is what I call an Engineering Project. Beautifully inspiring. Lucky young ones!

    Thanks for sharing.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    And this is but a part of what is taught in the schools of England??

    No wonder why American schools lag behind everyone else!
    This is embarrassing to say the least to the American school system. *shakes head*

    I think it's beyond awesome that things like this are taught over there...I mean, this goes WAAAAAAAAAY beyond my understanding or abilities, but the end result(in this case the light) is fantastic!!!

    TY for sharing Sir! :)


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Hay many thanks S09, dont be too hard on american schools! What I do at my school is VERY rare in the UK. Most schools technology projects over here are totally shamefull! its my life's mission to make the uk get back to power house of engineering and ingenuity it used to be 100 years ago.......or at least get it started on the road to recovery ;) Jonny


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Definitely agree - I'm another UK based Technology teacher,and I only wish that my department were open to projects like this! I doubt I could convince those I teach alongside to do this, but I'll be making one in my own time for definite - it looks fab!


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Some of my ideas were accepted with no issues, other ideas I just did anyway because as I teacher I will always do what I think is right for my kids. If you want a tip....... When I first started as an nqt, and I knew my ideas would fall upon deaf ears, I thought of a superior project that uses the same materials as the existing work...... Then secretly started the project. So long as it follows the NC and costs the same, how can they complain......however....You need to be pretty confident your ideas will work though or you'll end up looking like a fool :)


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    well I personally think they have a great teacher! :)


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I agree with SIRJAMES. They do have a great teacher.

    It is rare, but there are many teachers in the US that are doing similarly awesome hands-on work with their students. Check out some of their submissions in the Teacher Contest. Instructables is trying to help bring this level of instruction to any teacher who wants to try it.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Well....I am humbled, Thanks Jamie, Stu and wilgubeast for you lovely comments :) As for the awesome american teachers I defo agree with wilgubeast......there are some cool projects in the contest, my personal favourites are from stumitch and lakyama.............jolly good


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Hey Jonny... thanks for standing up for us lil'ol' North Americans! mind you... i am Canadian so we are i suppose a pleasant "mix" of U.K. and U.S.A. call us UKSA's i guess. And i have to echo the feeling that amazing work is being done in tech classes all over the world. Check out all the entries just to clarify that point... nice job on the instructable!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    One reason for the decline in American Industrial Arts Classes is the rise of the Liability Law Suite Lawyer and the subsequent rise in School Liability Insurance Rates.
    Power tools? Too dangerous!!! Sheet metal? Too many sharp edges- some one might cut themselves!!! You get the idea. Too many GI Bill educated lawyers came out of the Viet Nam Vetrens.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I took a continuing ed class at a local high school a few years ago. Off to the side of the room was a complete foundry with gas forges, crucibles, sand tables, etc. Nothing had been used for a long time and upon inquiry, it was because of possible lawsuits that the school stopped offering shop classes. However, this was enabled by parents trying to shield their children from any adverse outcome. Now they have children that won't change a light bulb for fear of electrocution.

    When I was in the 3rd grade (early 1970's) we had basic hand tools and a scrap wood bin in class. During free time anyone could build simple projects. By the 7th grade I was in metal shop and running a lathe as well as learning to gas weld. Tell most that now and you are looked at like you are crazy. Or, they wonder what was wrong with your parents for allowing you to do it. Kudos to jonnyd55 for finding a way to offer building projects to young minds.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    That is very, very sad! I think around the globe children are being cotton-balled and not getting the chance to do exciting things for fear of repurcussions! Good point!

    Beautiful work, clean lines and interesting! Who wouldn't like something like this on their desk - well done!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Excellent Instructable! My shop projects in High School were making a small flimsy tool box and a hammer and a table lamb from a syrup bottle. I wish I would have had a project as interesting as this. Please create more Instructables.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, thanks for the nice comment :) unfortunately most of the projects in most of the UK schools are as you described....or much, much worse! As for more instructables.... watch this space :)


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This is a really phenomenal, start-to-finish Instructable. I voted for you, primarily because I believe we need more instructional, hands-on teachers out there...I wish I had had you in high school.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, thanks for your comment & vote :)