In this Christmas decoration Instructables we produce a random flickering LED illuminated snowflake that is easy, low cost, and quick to build by hacking (modifying) a LED Tea Light.
Summary: Connect the LED Tea Light to an optical coupler to signal a MOSFET transistor to flicker and drive LED's or high current HB (High Brightness) LED's that produce a random candle illumination to light up your Christmas, Halloween or any display-device as you wish for fantastic results.
Making your own random circuitry by a microcontroller is time consuming and this method eliminates all the headaches for a simple and sweet project.
This method of produce a random flickering LED illuminated by means of a LED Tea Light can be applied to many things and devices for toys, miniature houses, train layouts, simulate fire/flames, Christmas lights, camping party lights, etc. Draw inspiration from the pictures and method to get your creative juices flowing in what you can do with this unique technique in LED lighting.
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Step 1: LED Tea Lights and SnowFlakes
These LED tea light came from the Dollar Tree. I purchase the tea lights with a flat bottom and no little feet. The ones with little feet do not have a circuit board but the ones with no feet have a circuit board and are manufactures by same company with the same packaging. The GE tea lights from Michaels Crafts are the best with a bigger circuit board but they all work the same. I cut open the tea lights with a sharp knife cutting the glue on the bottom edge.
The snowflakes are manufactured by Kurt S. Adler, Inc part #H9069, SKU# 8613101472. The snowflakes are 1-3/4” long by 1” wide the LED will be installed in the middle of the snowflakes for illumination.
To make the snowflakes have more glitter I sprayed the snowflakes with White Krylon Paint and dusted on glitter to give it the best effect.
Please see the attached pictures for instructions.
Step 2: Modifying LED Tea Lights
All Tea lights are manufactured in two types: type one is the flickering circuit is built into and inside the LED which is seen by the very small black dot in the LED which is the flickering IC. To use this type of flickering LED you wire in parallel other LED’s with the flickering LED and it will make the other LED’s flicker also. The problem with this method is that it drains the 3-Volt battery down very quickly.
Type two has a circuit board with the LED soldered in place and this is the best type to use. We will remove the soldered in LED and solder in wires to the optical coupler socket (Part# 4N35 to signal a MOSFET transistor. (On Semiconductor Part# MTP10N10EL) Please see the attached circuit diagram in PDF for all the instructions.
Step 3: LED's for Snowflakes
To make the 5mm LED’s fit inside the snowflakes that are 1-3/4” long by 1” wide I had to grind the top off of the LED’s to produce a flat top. I used a belt sander with 40 grit sand paper and held the LED with a pair of pliers or use a Dremel tool also. Be careful not to grind down to much or you will damage the LED.
The 30Awg wire is 15ft long so I can hang the 10 LED snowflakes at different lengths on the fireplace mantel.Please see the attached pictures for instructions.
Step 4: Video of the Random Flickering LED Snowflakes
I hope you enjoyed this Instructables of easy Random Flickering LED’s by means of a LED Tea Light, hopefully with will inspire you to take my method to other fantastic uses with the use of this technique.