Intro: DIY USB LED Lantern
Turn an old junk (or new) lantern into a nice multi purpose light.
Looks nice on your desk or hanging in your room or perhaps a camping trip. As it USB powered it has limits, However this can also be made to be powered by a few AA or AAA battery's and cell phone battery 3.7 volt lithium really lights these lights up good. So there are a few ways to power this device its up to you. As you can see this lantern does not have the correct globe, or any globe for that matter so I had to come up with something and make my own globe which made this build more fun for me. I hope you all enjoy it.
Step 1: Tools and Parts
1. Butane torch.
2. Needle nose & regular pliers.
3. Exacto knife.
4. Wire strippers.
5. Soldering iron flux & solder.
6. Small flat head & #1 phillips screwdrivers.
7. Tin snips.
9. Drill & drill Bits.
10. 1.4 Ohm resistor
11. couple lengths of wire long enough to leave extra to work with. (copper is best)
12. cheap dollar store or auto store 9 LED flashlight.
13. $3.39 single pole toggle switch from Radio Shack.
Step 2: Making the Light Globe
This light bulb is just a fat decor light cost around 2.00 each I went thru 3 bulbs before I got a good globe.
First things first SAFTY! Light bulbs are under pressure and can explode in your face or cut you badly Please wear eye protection and gloves before trying this.
You need to heat up the screw cap IT WILL STINK and smoke my basement smelled liked burnt wire for hrs... I used an old sock to provide some padding be very careful with your torch as sock's catch fire easy keep a fire extinguisher handy and if possible do this part outdoors.
1. with some pliers in hand heat up the screw cap evenly and slow too much heat at once will crack your bulb as seen by photo's. Once it is hot gently grab with some pliers and twist off slowly try not destroy the cap as it make's a great cover for the light board.
Brass screw caps will be more rigid and take more abuse then the normal aluminum caps on 99% of house hold light bulbs. These light bulbs are tempered glass take your time heating up the glass so not to crack it but you can shape this glass as it will melt with a small butane torch. Once the screw cap is off break out the center filament carefully then even more carefully heat up the edges and shape it to fit the light board. this whole process took me about 5 to 10 mins of time.
2. cleaning the bulb is very simple and easy the dust inside is not toxic from what i have read but I would advise not getting in your eyes or mouth, Put a teaspoon of table salt in the bulb and shake it around till glass is clear rinse out 2 or 3 times with hot water let dry keep in a safe place so it don't get broke. sorry no photo for that...
3. The light board Robbed from a cheap dollar store LED flashlight, remove battery's I used a #1 Phillips screwdriver handle to punch out the lens and light board 30 sec job! 9 super bright LED'S ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM! and if your like me you should save the flashlight body & switch for other projects down the road.
4.I like to use RTV Blue gasket maker instead of gorilla glue it don't run it's insulated can be molded and dries quickly & water proof and a little goes along way, Well as you can see I just simply glued the light board to the prepared bulb.
5. Another cheap flashlight to rob a reflector from , This hear light is a 2 D cell light needed to have a big enough reflector to hold the bulb and look nice. apply a few dabs of RTV to the reflector, this part is critical unless you dont mind RTV all over your bulb, make sure your bulb is nice and level eye it up best you can or it will be crooked and look uncool.
6. Last but not least solder your + and - wires to the light board. thus completing the light globe.
Step 3: Preparing the Lantern
Depending on your tastes clean or paint or even leave it dirty like mine I enjoy the used look to it. please make sure there is no fuel in the tank to spill or catch fire !
1. Remove the cap.
2. Remove the wic If there is one. Twist the wic holder to unlock and set aside well get back to that.
3. Remove the Globe bail.
4. Running wires in the arms is a bit tricky to do as there is alot of bends in these lanterns, I ended up using a string and a small hex nut and dropped it thew then tied my wires to string and pulled them back thew that was the best way i found and took all of 30 secs as to the hr i spent trying to fish the wires threw.
5.Drill a hole on the rear of the lantern base for you USB cable then on the front of the lantern base drill another hole for your switch.
Step 4: Finishing and Installing the Globe
1.Trim all but 1/2 inch of the wic guide off
2. We need to remove all the guts but the turn key out the wic adjustment cap.(Tin snips work great but so will a nice dremel.)
3. Now we need to put the screw cap back on the globe with a little RTV.
4.I did not replace the retaining clip for the globe base as it will be easy to remove the globe should you have to if the clip is not installed. With some RTV fill the area where we trimmed off all but 1/2 if the wic guide, set the globe in place make sure it is level or again it will look uncool. let dry an hr or so before touching.
5. connect your wires insulate them and stuff them up over the globe out of sight.
( as you can see I did not make sure my globe was level and is now crooked and I am using wire to make it look correct. learn from my mistake)
Step 5: Wiring the Switch
This is the last part of this instructable and should go pretty smoothly.
1.This was a printer cable. Just cut off the end that goes to the printer.
2. Insert into the hole in the rear of the lantern base.
3. Strip back a couple of inch's exposing 4 wires Red Black Green White, We want to cut away the the Green and the White we only want to use the Red & Black wire's.
4. I have to say the best way to gain access to the tank area was to just grab the Tin Snips and cut the bottom out and be replaced with a thin piece of wood or plastic cover of some kind I have yet to find... But tut tut it's not important as you most likely wont see the underside often unless it's hanging.
5.LED's can't run on 5 volts DC or they will burn out and all your hard work making a globe will be for nothing, so to solve this problem we need to add an resistor to the positive side of the line, I have had great success with 1.4 Ohm resistors I bought on ebay for dirt. You can see the positive side of the USB is connected to the switch on one side and then the resistor on the other side of the switch witch is inturn wired to the positive wire going to the light board. the Black wire (negative) from the USB is wired directly to the negative of the light board thus completing the circuit.
6.Turn on your light & enjoy!