Using off-the-shelf LEDs to make a plastic 'robot' glow and fade colors! Provides an introduction to basic soldering, circuitry, LEDs and plastics.
Step 1: Obtain a 'robot' and LED Board.
Walt Disney World's EPCOT features interesting exhibits of technology inside of Innoventions. The American Plastics Council provides an exciting 'robot race' where you can learn about the amazing properties of plastic and also produce your own plastic robot. The pieces for the robot are produced on site by a large automated plastic molding machine. Once you put it together it is yours to keep! I found cheap LED boards inside of coasters from IKEA.
Step 2: Seperate the LED Board From the Coaster and Cut Out the Suporting Plastic for the Robot's Head
The coaster has screws on the back that can be removed to separate the batteries from the LED board and reflector. A flat head screwdriver will separate the board from the reflector.
The robot's head pieces have a lip where it slides into the body plastic. Directly below the lip you can cut the length of the support rod off with a hack saw or other device. Don't worry, the head will still fit and look fine. Make sure you cut both pieces of the head.
Step 3: Glue the LED Board Into the Head
Next, glue the led board into the head of the robot. I preferred to place the board on the plastic piece that has eyes. Hot glue does the trick.
Step 4: Obtain Indivudal AAA Battery Holders, Solder Them in Sequence, Glue Into Robot
Unfortunately I couldn't really find a three AAA battery holder...it might not fit in the body either. I found single units at Fry's and attached them together in sequence using wire stolen from an old Christmas light set.
Beware of cheap soldering irons sold in kits at Radio Shack. This is a good type of assignment to figure out how to solder. I ended up using a 'coldheat' unit which provided just the right amount of power for this job.
Once they are attached together with just one positive and one negative lead unconnected you can glue them into the robot's body.
Step 5: Attach Battery Leads to LED Board, Insert Batteries and Enjoy!
I decided to just solder the existing wires on the board to the ones from the batteries then put electrical tape around the connection.
This makes it easy to make changes in the future without injuring the integrity of the LED board.
This is obviously just a starting point and there are many things these raw materials could be used for. I just wanted to know I still understood how the soldering iron works, taking things apart and to show the crazy Kodak guy that my robot did really glow.
I can imagine this type of robot to be used as a night light or to convey information intuitively. Have at it folks!