Usb Christmas Lights





Introduction: Usb Christmas Lights

About: I like to make things

this project was inspired by the following web page:
that said, there are unlimited numbers of things that can be powered by usb. with the holidays coming up, why not christmas lights? i've added a switch to the original design to allow me to turn them on and off without unplugging the usb cable. The whole thing is mounted into an enclosure (altoids tin, of course), purely for aesthetics.

Step 1: Get Your Equipment

i began with a battery operated set of christmas lights, and the male end of a usb cable. i cut off the c battery holder, taking care to mark which wire was positive and which was negative. frankly, this may not matter in this case, but i wasn't completely sure, and i'm a better safe than sorry kind of guy. i stripped the ends of the wires and twisted them to keep them together. i then stripped the outer sheathing off the usb cable and located the red and black wires. these are the only ones we will need. if you're following along with me, strip them too. for an enclosure, i chose--of course--an altoids tin. this, however, is the first project i've seen inside an altoids smalls tin. (at least that's something)

oh, i also use a small toggle switch and some solder and what not.

Step 2: Get Funky I

drill a hole in the side of the tin closer to the base than the top. i used a much smaller bit and then used a precision file to work it up to size. it wasn't a perfect circle, but it allows you to move the hole a bit to get the fit right so the lid will still fit on. besides, the nut to hold the switch in place on the enclosure will cover it once it's on.

Step 3: Get Funky II

i used the same technique to fashion a hole in one end for a usb cord, and a hole in the other for the christmas lights.

as you can see, i tied a knot in the light's cord and placed a zip-tie on the usb cable inside the case. this will keep you from pulling the internal workings out of place during use. i will anchor it further, but that's another step.

so, without further ado, another step. . .

Step 4: Get Funky III

solder the negative wire of the lights, to the black wire of the usb cable. then solder the positive wire from the lights to one pole of a spst toggle switch. the red wire from the usb cable will be soldered to the other pole. this is not the clearest picture, but this is about as easy as it gets, so i'm not worried. if you can't figure out what i'm talking about, you're in the wrong place.

Step 5: Get Funky IV

i've used white electrical tape to insulate the soldered ground wires. color doesn't really make a difference, but please, please! don't EVER use red!! just kidding.

hot glue helps to imobilize the wires and therefore protect your soldered joints. you want as little as possible to move inside this thing. usb cables have tiny wires, a.k.a. they break easily.

Step 6: Testing

this is an easy project. i am way overdocumenting, but even though it is easy, i still wanted to test it before plugging it in to one of my computers. they ain't worth much, but they're what i got, right?

i hooked this bad boy up to a portable 9v usb charger that i had constructed with the aid of a multitude of instructables, etc. it worked.

everything's cool and i have some snazzy lights for the holiday season, or whenever i need some quick lighting without an outlet. all powered from a 9v battery.

and by the way, it also worked when plugged into my computer's usb port. =)

p.s. next pic is the inside of my 9v usb charger.

Step 7: 9v Usb Charger

this may be my next instructable. it's been done, though.



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    29 Discussions

    Really, SSBBROB?  Lay off the kid.  He's (or she's) just trying to learn about electronics.  Maybe he'll be the person who gets excited about this stuff and ends up inventing something amazing we will all use someday.  And maybe his parents helped him out or he is using his dad's (or mom's) account.  However he (or she) is on this site, the comments are on my project and don't concern you.  And if there is a legitimate problem, report it to the actual Instructables admin.  Cheers!

     i am a 12 year old electric novice and would like to now if someone could tell me how to wire a 5v regulator in this schematic

    i already have it built and it charges my psp but i am making it able to charge my ipod and think a $2 regulator is worth less than a psp or ipod

    4 replies

    Just do an Instructables search for '9v USB charger' and you will come up with a host of projects much like this:

    As well, depending on where you buy your regulator the basic wiring should be on the package.  Radio Shack?  It's on there.  Just wire it up and go to town.

    (I accept no responsibility for fried-pods. . .)

    Also check out 'matroska's' post if you haven't already.  Very useful.  Thanks, matroska!

    No sweat.  Hope all goes well.  Post some pics when the deal is done.  = )

     I'd also give it a tumbler switch or a dimmer :P Just in case.

     Very neat! I'll be using this to power my ipods and iphone!

    By the way, for those looking -like me- to power real usb devices, you will need some modification made so that the device will know it's a "real" usb port.

    See this instructable for more details:

    Unfortunatly, as is, it will not power iPods or any other devices that requires some kind of usb standard. (Which is why in that instructables all the 4 pins are used.) Good luck all and thanks.

    it could be possible if you can find a way to turn 5 volts into twelve volts then you can use an inverter to turn twelve volts into 120 volts then TA DA.

    usb is around 5v whether you're on a mac or a pc. if you have a set of lights that can run on 5v you can power it with either. all i'm doing is harvesting power, not the operating system.

    if you're talking about straight out of the box plug-in(120v) Christmas lights, no.

    Quote pdub420:i've used white electrical tape to insulate the soldered ground wires. color doesn't really make a difference, but please, please! don't EVER use red!! just kidding.|| That was hilarius!!! +1

    i'm glad my instructable inspired you. that's what it's all about. you should post a pic of your usb lights, if you want. i'd like to see it.