Trash Can (or Other Sweet Box) Usb Light




An absolutely 'rubbish' way of lighting your desk or showing off at LAN parties

UPDATE: For a crucial safety update and time saver head to Step 6

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Step 1: The Shopping List

For this project you need:
>>1 USB wire, doesn't matter what kind as long as at least one end is standard USB A (look below)
>>1 3-5v LED
>>A sweets tin, in this case a small box from some garbage shaped sweets.
>> OPTIONAL: If your box or case has any plastic that is dark in colopur it will absorb the light more, if you cover this plastic on the inside of your box or case ((in this case at the top of the box there is a bit of dark plastic on the lid)) with a layer of tin foil, shiny side facing the light source, then your box will be better lit.

Also to ease the job along you should consider:
>>A standard pair of wire clippers
>>A handheld drill
>>Some blu-tac

Step 2: Electricals

This is the step that tells you what changes need making to the cable before use.

1. First snip of one end of the cable, make sure you leave the end that connects into the computer; on.
2. Then (carefully using your wire cutters) strip the black outer covering of your wire, you want to take about, 3cm of black covering off
3. Then you should find 6 wires, one braded one that wraps all round the cable, another silver one that is with the braded one. Then behind a silver paper film, 4 other wires, Black Red Green and White.
4. Remove everything leaving only the red and black ones

Step 3: After That Lot...

You should have a usb cable with a black and red wire sticking out the end. You now need to (carefully) strip the black and red cables (as pic 1) and twirl them in your fingers to make all the wires come together, this helps the project and makes the remaining steps easier. You should now have some wires ready for connection to your LED, your wires should look similar to the pictures.

Step 4: Now to Get Down to Business

After all those shenanagans, you are ready. Drill a hole through the sweets tin/tub and push your wire through it.

Step 5: Now to Really Get Down to Business

Now link ur LED to the wire, you could solder it, or tape it on, but i find easiest, cheapest, fastest and genuinely highest quality finish is achieved simply by wrapping the wire round the LED really tightly.

1. Make sure the circuit isn't gunna short itself, keep the linkages clean, and organised
2. Make sure the current flows the right way round, LED stnd for Light emtting Diode, on a diode the power can only flow one way so you must get it right, try one way, test it buy plugging it in, to your PC or PS2, and if it doesn't work turn the led round, rewrap and retest. The LED will have 2 legs coming out of it, one should be shorter than the other. Connecting the shorter one to the Black cable, is the general rule of thumb.

Step 6: Bam!!!

Now your done, hook it up to a USB port and you're good to go. Down the page are some pics of mine. I'd love to see your designs and where you've taken the idea. Also, its not just LED's you can connect, all sorts can be done. If you have an idea, then limit yourself, the power output of a USB port is only 4.75-5.25v. Please send your pics of what you've done. Enjoy the project and have fun.

Now for the update: To save time and prevent issues such as the LED legs burning or the components being damged, and to reduce heat, please consider installing a resistor in the circuit, if like me you are using a standard 3v LED u need an 1/8 watt resistor coded --- Brown Grey Brown --- Now for the end of the update... There we go!

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    13 Discussions


    12 years ago

    I tried this and my computer made a really high pitched noise, is there any thing i can do about that? The LED lit up though.

    1 reply

    i have heard this going round and so just stay away from dollar tree anything, this particular cable used in this instructable is just one i had hanging about, cant remember brand


    12 years ago on Introduction

    awwwsome :) ima try this when i get a usb cable from the dolla tree


    12 years ago on Step 5

    there is a way to know which leg is which in LED's, the longer leg is positive and if they've been cut the negative leg will always have a flat edge on the bottom of the LED on it's side


    12 years ago

    If you added some tinfoil under the black part on top, the rest could light up brighter. The light would reflect off the tinfoil and diffuse into the rest of the box, instead of being wasted on the black plastic.

    1 reply

    12 years ago

    Cool i did it with a cd cake box. also to use it w/o a resistor just use two in a series circuit.


    12 years ago

    dude i blew like 10 leds doing this until i figured out i needed a resistor thx for that update but would a 390 ohm resisitor be the right one?


    12 years ago

    Awesome you can use it as a trash can at night when you have a small snack and you can see were it is lol. P.S. I love Gta Lol


    12 years ago

    I likeee!