/ Lighting

Putting flickering LEDs in my moms Christmas decoration

My mom has a miniature elf house that she takes out every Christmas, and it has become a tradition that all her grandkids partake in the elves moving in. She has tried to mount lights in it before, using a battery powered LED strip, but the lights turned out too bright and the light was pretty cold. So I ordered some orange flickering candle like LEDs from eBay and got to work :)

Mom wanted the fireplace to look alive, and to have some lights on both floors. My initial idea was to use a warm white LED strip and turn the brightness way down to light the two floors, but I felt the atmosphere was lost. They are elves, they don't have fluorescent lighting... So I ended up using the orange flickering LEDs in both the fireplace and some miniature lanterns.

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I drilled two holes from the underside of the fireplace, trying to exit right next to the logs. The flickering LEDs were clear and had a pretty focused light beam, so I sanded them down to make them diffuse. Then I threaded the wires through from the top, so the LEDs sits above the holes. This turned out pretty good and was a lot easier than trying to insert them from below. The wires goes out the bottom of the fireplace and back of the miniature house, so they are completely invisible. I had to mount the resistors for the LEDs on the backside of the house, as there was no room for them in the fireplace.

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I drilled a 5 mm hole in the top of the lanterns and removed the string that was attached. I then taped around them, to stop hot glue from leaking out of any openings and to prevent the clear plastic from melting and deforming from the hot glue heat. Then I pretty much filled them with hot glue through the hole i drilled, and when they were almost full I inserted the LED and waited for the hot glue to cool and harden.

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This worked very well, the LEDs was fastened and the hot glue gave it a nice diffuse look, so it looks like the whole lantern is lighting up and hides the LED. I soldered a resistor and very soft wires to the LEDs and suspended them from the ceiling using screw eyes. The hot glue also gave the lanterns some weight so they actually hang from the wires.

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I mounted a terminal block on the back of the miniature house, this makes it easy to expand with more lights next year :) The backside will not be visible, so the aesthetics were not that important. The 5V AC adapter is connected via a power jack.

These are the parts I used:

  • 1 × AC adapter, 5 V=, 800 mA, 2.1mm jack, SMPS
  • 5 × LED 5mm clear, flickering Orange, 1.8-2.2V, 20mA, 4000-6000mcd, 20°
  • 1 × Power jack, w/wire, female, 2.1mm x 5.5mm
  • 5 × Resistor, carbon film, 0.25W, 150 Ω, 5%
  • 8 × Terminal block, screw, 2.5 mm
  • 2 m × Wire, stranded, 2-cores, PVC, 0.33mm2 (22 AWG), Red/Black
Thomas Jensen

Thomas Jensen

I enjoy single malt scotch, cigars, my homelab, electronics, linux and spending time with girlfriend and three boys.

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Putting flickering LEDs in my moms Christmas decoration
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