Introduction: Portable Rechargeable LED Lantern
This rechargeable LED camping lantern features a wooden top and bottom, leather middle section with cut out window panes, and acrylic frosted glass inside. It utilizes a simple 5 volt phone charger to charge up, and is perfect to take out on adventure whether you're going camping or staying in your own backyard! There's a full build video of this project, so make sure to check out the video for a complete look.
Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.
Step 1: Electronics
For the electronics, I'm using five 3.4 volt LEDs, a 10 ohm resistor, a switch, a 3.7 volt Lipo battery, a charging regulator and a female micro usb input. I'm creating a simple circuit, as shown in the drawing. To hold the lights in place, I'm soldering them to a small board.
I'm using these types of LEDs is because they draw pretty much the exact amount of voltage that the battery puts out, so I only needed a very small resistor, and I only needed one battery. If I had used a 12 v strip for example, I would have needed 3 batteries in series. And this light is designed to be ambient, it's not a post light, I wanted it to provide more of a gentle, low light.
Electronics Products Used - (Affiliate)
- LEDs - https://amzn.to/2oNt8gJ
- LiPo Charger - https://amzn.to/2wR6mcb
- LiPo Battery - https://amzn.to/2wR6mcb
- Small Switch - https://amzn.to/2wR6mcb
- Female Micro USB - https://amzn.to/2wR6mcb
- 10 ohm Resistor - https://amzn.to/2wR6mcb
- Plexiglass - https://amzn.to/2wR6mcb
- Frosted Spray Paint - https://amzn.to/2wR6mcb
Step 2: Leather
For material for this lantern, I was thinking about what would be practical and nice looking, and I settled on a combination of wood and thick leather. The leather is soft, yet rigid, and really great when you want to make a cylinder. I chose to use leather for this project, because it's light yet it's durable, and the same goes for the interior components of the light. That way, if the lantern got thrown around in the car or when you took it out camping, it wouldn't get damaged. I cut a rectangle out of some thick leather, and in this case, using a really thick type of leather makes a lot of sense because it adds structure to the unit.
Step 3: Wood
To hold the leather section in place, I'm making four wooden circles for this lamp, two to place inside the leather, and two outside to cap it. I used a compass to make the circles, so two need to fit perfectly inside the leather cylinder, and two are slightly larger to cap it. I used a 5 inch wide board of cherry to make my circles from, so the largest ones were about 4 1/2 inches in diameter and that set the sizes for the rest of the lamp.
Step 4: The Windows
To create "windows" in the lamp, I cut out 5 rectangles inside the leather using a sharp knife (see video for better view). The electronics will be housed inside, so I wanted to hide that from view and create a nice glow. So inside the leather, I'm using some plexiglass. First I cut the plexiglass to size (using the tablesaw and mitersaw), so it fit perfectly inside the leather cylinder. Then I used a heat gun and heated the plastic up enough so I could easily bend it. This works pretty well, and once I had a cylinder, I spray painted it with frosted spray paint.
Step 5: Fitting the Electronics
The electronics will be attached to the top boards, so first I cut a hole in the smaller board so the wires can fit through. Then I routed out some grooves in the larger board so the switch and the female micro usb input could be embedded.
Next I soldered the wires together, so the switch and the input could be embedded in the larger board, the wires could come through the smaller board inside the hole, and all the other electronics could sit on top, on the other side of the smaller board. I tested to make sure everything worked well, and then hot glued the electronics in place, and glued the small board on top of the larger board.
I also glued on the small board on top of the large board for the bottom (this section has no electronics.)
Step 6: Assembly
After cutting the window panes in the leather, I punched holes on the two sides connecting, so they could be sewn together. Then I sewed it using a decorative stitch and a contrasting thread. To add a handle to the lantern, I rivited on a leather strap to the sides.
To make sure the electronics stayed in one place on top of the wood, I added some white cardboard that I hot glued in place, and this is just to make sure the wires don't go everywhere, so that everything is nice and contained.
Step 7: Connecting All the Parts
I placed the frosted plexiglass cone inside the leather, then fitted the wood section with the electronics and the wood bottom. To hold the wood top and bottom to the leather middle part, I drilled a few small holds and added two screws to each section. That way it will stay in place, and it's easy to remove if you ever needed to access the electronics.
To charge the light up, you simply plug it into a 5 volt charger, it takes about three hours to recharge, and the battery should last about 4 to 5 hours.
Step 8: Conclusion - Watch the Video
To see the final lantern in use, and to see the building part in more detail, make sure to check out the video!