Here's a relatively easy weekend project that will yield astonishing results!
With a few hours and some handy materials you can build your own LED night light.
My first trial took about 5 hours of continuous work to design and fabricate the finished product.
After several trials, it took an average of 2 - 4 hours in the shop before I've finished making one complete night light. This is mostly due to the amount of soldering and wiring that had to be done for each LED.
In the end, I feel it was well worth the effort.
Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.
Step 1: Step 1: Gather Your Materials
-Handheld Screw Driver with various bits and drivers (varies according to size of LEDs)
-5mm RGB LEDs
-Speaker Wire (I used 20 AWG)
-1 AA Battery Holder w/ Switch
-Flat Black Spray Paint
-1 piece of Wood
-1 Sheet of Vellum
Step 2: Step 2: Strip the Wood
You'll want to strip a piece of wood in half using a table saw.
Next, you'll want to cut those two pieces of wood into two 22", 18" and either 7" or 12" pieces.
(I chose the 12" length)
Keep in mind that I used only one piece of wood that was about 6' x 3" so be sure to measure twice and cut once.
Step 3: Step 3: Drill Pilot Holes
Now that you're wood is cut down to size, you'll want to go ahead and drill pilot holes (approximately 2" apart) into the 22" and either 12" or 7" pieces of wood.
In the cross-section view, you'll notice that this will require drilling two holes per LED. One of which will be at an angle.
Take note that you will NOT need to drill these holes into your 18" piece of wood.
Also, you will need to use a smaller sized driver (when drilling your pilots holes) than the size of the LED you'll be using.
I found it easier to obtain the angle I needed by fabricating a simple jig.
I used a couple of scrap pieces of wood glued together since my drill press could not mechanically rotate to the desired angle
Once you've finished drilling the pilot holes, now would be the perfect time to paint your wood.
Step 4: Step 4: Insert LEDs
Now that you've drilled your pilot holes and painted your wood, you'll want to grab about 30x 5mm RGB LEDs and insert one into each hole.
(Unfortunately, I forgot to paint my wood before inserting the LEDs so it became problematic to take them out, paint the wood and then re-insert all 30 LEDs back into the wood. In essence, paint your wood BEFORE inserting the LEDs)
Once you've inserted an LED, I recommend keeping yourself organized by bending the ends of each LED so that the positive (the longer end) and negative ends (the short end) are spaced apart.
(This step also helps to keep the LED in place until you're ready to solder the connections)
Step 5: Step 5: Assemble the Frame
Now that you've inserted an LED into each hole, you'll want to start assembling the frame.
Start by positioning the 18" pieces on opposite sides of one another.
Then, lay down the sheet of vellum on top of them.
Position either your 12" or 7" pieces on top of the vellum so that it is centered and you're able to screw into the 18" piece that's directly under the vellum.
Finally, position the remaining 22" pieces of wood perpendicular to that of the 18" pieces of wood and fasten each intersecting corner of the 18" and 22" piece of wood with a screw.
(This step should also stretch the vellum so that it is flat against the 22" piece of wood)
Step 6: Step 6: Glue the LEDs to the Wood
Now that you've fastened your frame together, you'll want to glue the LEDs to the wood.
Be sure the glue flows into the pilot hole and contact the plastic epoxy of the LED itself.
This will insure that the surface of the LED as well as the +/- leads will provide a secure fit.
Try your best to keep the glue concentrated in the hole. (You don't want a sticky mess as you prepare to solder the connections)
Step 7: Step 7: Solder the Leads
Now that you've glued the LEDs to the wood, you'll want to solder the leads between each LED in parallel.
Each LED has 2 leads: a positive (+) and a negative (-).
To identify which lead is a positive or a negative, look closely at the 2 leads and compare their lengths. One lead will be longer than the other. This will be the positive (+) while the shorter lead will be the negative (-).
Using your speaker wire/soldering equipment, solder each positive (+) lead of the LED to the positive (+) lead of the LED immediately next to it and vice versa with the negative (-) leads.
Continue soldering the connections until you've fused all 30x LEDs together in parallel.
Finally, solder the AA battery holder leads to the appropriate leads on a lucky LED and test the connections by turning it on.
If a group of LEDs are obviously out of sync with the others, then apply more solder to those leads.
(It might have been the result of glue getting between the solder and speaker wire/LED)
Once everything is working, I would recommend applying a final coat of glue over all of the connections.
(This step will keep the soldered leads from falling apart, protect your hands from pointed tips, and adhere the speaker wire to the wood)
Step 8: The Finished Product
Now that you've successfully completed all of the steps required to make an LED Night Light, you'll want to display it for the world to see.
Thank you for your interest in my weekend project.