This instructable is about making stars shine brightly. A while ago, it was also about making Christmas trees without cutting down trees. These LED Christmas trees have an Instructable of their own now. They're still in the videoclip, though.
If you can solder a little, you can make LED stars. The stars can be made 6 to 10 cm wide and use a 9 Volt battery as a pedestal.
If you want to easily change batteries, take a look at step 5. The star can be mounted on a 9 Volt battery clip...
No video playing? Have a look at it here...
So get your soldering iron, grab your LEDs, find some batteries and kick off the christmas decorating season.
If you're uncertain about your soldering skills: Start with making the star. It's easy. You can do it. Really. Trust me.
Still in doubt whether you should make the star or not? Here's the one decisive reason you were waiting for:
The first three Makers who post a picture of their self-made star in the comments get a 3 months Pro Membership gift code from me.
An additional one year Pro Membership gift code goes to the maker of the funniest / loveliest / greatest picture that involves a LED star :-)
december 17th: lmijacevic gets the first of three 3 Months Pro Membership codes!
Step 1: Stuff and tools
For a christmas LED star you need:
All parts for the star can easily be ordered at RadioShack, Mouser (if you live in he US), or Farnell or Conrad (Euro's, Aussies, rest of the world).
If you're new to electronics: buy a assortment of LEDs like this one.
The star costs about ˆ1,60 / US $2,- if you can get a carbon-zinc battery for under ˆ1,-
A blinking star costs about ˆ2,90
Tools and other stuff needed:
Step 2: The layout
Christmas LED Star:
The circuit for the LED star is not very complicated. As a matter of fact, it is pretty easy: Five LEDs connected head to tail in one circuit.
The switch in the circuit is not a physical part of the star: The star lights up (the circuit is closed) by planting a wire into the plus-connector of the battery.
You say it's easy, so nothing can go wrong?
Uuuuhhhmmm... well, you could make a mistake with connecting the LEDs "head-to-tail". Have a look at this I'ble (step 2 is about LEDs) if you're not sure about LEDs having heads and tails...
Step 3: Make the LED star
To make soldering the LEDs as easy as possible, I made a template out of plywood. It's a circle with marks for the five leds.
Now you have a closed star.
Connect the ends of the star to the battery's poles. Mind the polarity of LEDs and battery! If the LEDs light up: Hooray. If not:
Solder a sturdy, solid copper wire (about 4 cm / 1.5") to the minus-side of the LED string. See picture 3 in this step.
Step 4: Finish up
Almost done! The final step is to solder a piece of solid wire to the battery's minus-pole.
This is a little tricky to solder:
Make sure wire and battery are fixed. Use tape, a third hand or small objects to make sure battery and wire are properly lined up and can't slide away.
Finally, solder the other end of the wire to the LED star's plus-side.
And you're done :-D
Liked it? Continue making a tree. It takes a bit more work / patience, but is well worth it! If you can make the star, you can make the tree!
Step 5: Adding a battery clip...
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To be able to change the battery a it more easily, I mounted the star on the innards of a 9 Volt battery clip. Instead of solid wire, I used two 60 Ohm resistors. The resistors limit the current through the LEDs, which increases battery life and lengthens the LEDs lives. The copper wires are more rigid than the resistors, so this version is a bit more fragile than the previous.
The pictures take you through the surgery of the clip, it's pretty straightforward I think:
Mount the battery-clip-with-star carefully on a battery. Now you're done. Again :-)