Phone Charger Mood Lamp




About: I'm an artist/engineer excited about making cool stuff!

Use an old phone charger to power a nice looking led lamp. I made the patterns on the shade with an adapted bicycle . Also, check this instructable to make your own spinning wheel.

For inspiration, check out this gallery of completed lamps.

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Step 1: What You Need


* wire cutters/strippers or an old pair of scissors
* small flat head screw driver


* an old phone charger
* a couple of 150ohm resistors
* a couple of LEDs
* a chocblock
* something to make the base with; we now use sections of old carpet tube but we've used cans and plastic bottles before.
* a 20cm length of stiff but bendable wire
* (optional) 3 shorter lengths of wire for making legs
* some sellotape
* some 200gsm paper for the shade, about 30x40cm is good, a little less than a3.

Step 2: (optional) Solder Leds Onto Resistors

If you already have the LEDs soldered onto resisters from one of our kits, you can skip this step.

Otherwise, you can work out what size resister to use with Ohm's law. V = IR. Let's work out what resistor size we need for an LED with a forward voltage of 2.5V and a current use of 20mA. The phone charger provides around 5V, but can vary so if you have a multimeter you can test it.

Subtract the forward voltage from the phone charger supply to get the voltage over the resistor = 2.5V. Then work out R = V/I = 2.5V / 20mA = 125Ohms.


It often works to just put the LEDs in series, so that the voltage is divided across them both. To do this, twist together the long leg of one LED with the short leg of the other, then test with the phone charger and check that they are not too bright or too dim.

For more info on serial vs parallel circuits, see the wikipedia page here.

Step 3: Connect the LEDs

strip the wires of the phone charger. Usually you'll have a black and a red wire but sometimes you have more. You need to find which is ground and which is positive.

Separate all the wires and strip back a small part of their insulation.

Plug in the phone charger and then test the LEDs on the different wires until you get the LED lighting up.

Cut off the unused wires (if any).

Then use a chocblock to screw the mobile phone charger wires and the LED legs together. You can use a couple of LEDs in parallel (see the photo) to make different colours.

This part can be quite fiddly as you need to make sure that the LED's legs don't cross over (which will cause a short circuit), and that the LED's legs are securely held in the chocblock (otherwise one or both LEDs won't light).

Step 4: Mounting the Chocblock

Thread the wire through the hole in the chocblock and then bend it over and round so that the chocblock is caught in the middle. Then bend the wire into a V shape with the chocblock at the sharp end of the V.

Use tape to secure the legs of the V onto the carpet tube or whatever you're using for the base.

Plug in the phone charger to check everything still works because after we put the shade on it will be harder to get access to.

Step 5: (optional) Add the Legs

If you want to add some curly legs, then bend a little U shape in the end of the wire that you can squeeze into the cardboard tube. Then add some tape to hold them in place. 

Finally, bend some nice curls in the ends.

Step 6: Make the Shade

I use an adapted bicycle to make spirally shades. You can just splatter ink about, or even cut holes in the shade to make interesting shadows and silhouettes when the lamp is on.

See the gallery for inspiration

Step 7: Form the Shade

Wrap the shade around the base and secure it with tape.

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    15 Discussions


    3 years ago

    how you could to add a cell phone charger port?


    7 years ago on Step 6

    We worked in a place where we weren't allowed paint so we used felt tip pens and sticky bits instead, still worked out great

    We tried using tracing paper - both 120gsm and 90gsm look gREAT!

    We also tried positioning the LEDs a bit higher up - not within the base but about halfway up the shade, with frosted LEDs this illuminates the shade well and gives quite an even light spread.

    word up to the big ladz


    8 years ago on Introduction

    there are 2 led, so don't need use resistor. i used to make it. it bright very good.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    maybe try to put shades on the inside so that they pop up when lit.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    These look great! I hope to make some soon, I am gathering materials now. Can you tell me what material you used for the shades? This will be my first Instructable that I have created.

    2 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I especially like the shades as well. They have a very fun, modern look.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I used some medium weight paper. About 150gsm. The thicker the paper the less light will show through. I've also just tried cutting holes in the paper - check the flickr gallery.
    Good luck in your first instructable! I'm honoured to be your first!!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Really awesome job(s). I like the designs, they're awesome. I should do this. And the LEDs, I haven't seen those in a long time! Nice job! +1 rating. (added to favorites)

    1 reply

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    You can get LEDs like that online; they've managed to cram five normal LED dies into a single package, for five times the brightness of a regular LED (at five times the current, naturally). They'd be excellent for a lamp like this, since they also illuminate a wider angle than a normal super-bright LED does.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    thanks for the positivity! I love this site and I'm glad to finally start sharing here!


    nice idea I'm sure that is possible. This idea is about using old phone chargers, that would be thrown away otherwise. I chopped off the plug and soldered the leds straight on!