DIY projects are great. Regardless of how useful and innovative the final creation is, once you see it all working, it gives this incredible sense of achievement. Now, imagine how great it would be to combine this with the approaching Christmas holidays that are all about decorations and lights- it would definitely be one for the books.
I am sure that among us there are many first class engineers and inventors, but for the rest of us, average Jo’s, making something from scratch that lasts, entertains, and hopefully saves a bit of money, makes us feel proud.
One such thing is solar powered Christmas decorations for the tree in the front yard. Yes, I agree there are some incredible ones out there, and yes, considering that the sun is not particularly strong in the Northern hemisphere at that time of the year, this DIY project might not make you the coolest on the block. But there is still something magical about making your own ornaments, and brightening up that good old tree, without having to worry about the electricity bill afterwords.
So, thanks to the Instructables, and user exabopper, I am able to give you a simple 5 step tutorial that guarantees to bring the Christmas spirit and a great deal of satisfaction in the end.
First, let’s see what we need. Good quality, not expensive solar walkway lights (the ones that definitely work are Westinghouse 474005-78 models, although it does not have to be them), a 100-foot long thin comm wire with four conductors (like a phone cord for example), some stiffer wire for hanging the ornaments, silicone caulk (to make it waterproof), electric tape, soldering iron and a solder, a drill, screwdrivers, pliers and a wire cutter/stripper.
Now, let’s proceed.
Essentially, what you would like here is to separate all bits. Remove the shell, the stalk and the stake point. The bit, which you do not need is the stalk, but you can use it for something else later. Open the top cap and expose the circuit and the battery. Cut or melt the plastic tabs and pull the circuit board away from the case, paying close attention not to break nay of the wires. Lastly, pull the LED out of the plastic case. The final result should be a clear shell, top of the top cap, battery inside, circuit board with an attached LED. and the bottom of the top cap.
Drill a small whole on the plastic cap as shown on the picture. Place the extension wire through one of the existing holes, leaving 3cm wire sticking out. Fix it with a knot. Clip the leads to the LED, to separate them from the board. Then splice in the 3-4m extension wire and solder them.
All solar panel assemblies should be mounted on to something like a plastic board or lid. With screws, go through the lid and into the original screw holes in the top cap. With silicone caulk, seal the edges of the solar cell cases, especially the points where there is wire sticking out. Once all is done, put the set up aside and leave it (it might actually take a day for it to dry and cure).
Insulate the spliced wires using electric tape. Insert the LED through the whole, making it look exactly the way it did when the light was first bought. Proceed with waterproofing by placing a drop of silicone caulk behind the LED light. Once done, set aside to dry. This might also take a day.
Place the stiff wires, which are at least 15 cm long, through the two holes of the LED casing (these will be the wires that attach the decoration to the tree). Cover the LED with the plastic shell.
That is it. You can decorate them, or use different color LEDs if you’d like, but essentially, it should work as it is now.
Images (c) exabopper