Hello, and welcome back to DIYPerks. In this
video we’ll be making some really charming mushroom lights. As you can see they look
pretty magical, yet are still quite organic up close.
This is a very fun project, and the method we’ll be using allows you to get really creative
with your designs. For example, you can make warm and cosy red mushrooms, or mysterious
eerie white ones. Likewise, the styles can also be varied, my personal favourite being
bracket fungi imitations. So to make some mushrooms, we’ll need these
tools and materials. Most of these can be found in your local hardware store, and there’s
a list in the description for easy reference. We’ll be using flat SMD LEDs for this project
as they have a much wider beam angle than normal LEDs, and are usually brighter. This
means that the mushroom domes will be lit up much more evenly, although you can achieve
a similar effect with normal LEDs by chopping off the tips.
SMD LEDs can be bought individually, but they’re much less common. So what we’ll be doing is
removing some from a cheap LED strip. This works out quite well because it also makes
them easier to solder. When choosing your LEDs it’s a good idea to go with a colour
that matches your final mushrooms, as it will make them more vibrant. For example, if you’re
making red mushrooms, going with red LEDs would be a good idea.
So we’ll simply cut around the LEDs to remove them, and trim down the ends. Now we can solder
them up! As we’ll be powering the LEDs with a battery
pack that takes 3 AA batteries, we need to solder a resistor in series with each LED
so that they won’t get fried with too much voltage.
To work out what value resistor we need, we can take the LED’s required voltage and subtract
it from the battery pack’s voltage. Now we can divide the answer by the LED’s required
current, and then move the decimal point three places to the right, giving us the ideal resistor
ohm rating. Using this simple sum we can reconfigure this
project to work with variety of different voltage sources, such as 5v from a USB port
or phone charger. If you don’t know your LED’s required voltage
and current, you can use this chart to get a approximate value. So now we’ve got our resistors we can solder
them to the LEDs, but first we’ll bend one end of the resistors’ legs over, making a
right angle, and then bend it back up again like this.
We can now solder either end of an LED to this notch. The little antenna sticking up
will act as a support for the mushroom dome later.
Now we need to get a length of thin wire, no less than 20cm long, and solder one end
of it to the other side of the LED. Now we can bend the resistor leg inwards toward
the centre of the LED and then twist the extra wire around it so that things are kept neat.
As the resistors are what will give the final stems their strength, they need to be long
enough so as to not limit the height of our mushrooms. So, to make them a bit longer we
can extend them with some stiff wire – I got mine from some spare resistors, although it
is available separately as steel wire. The last thing to do is solder on another
length of thin wire to this extension, and that’s the electronics of our stems completed! Now with the tricky bit done we can start
working on the mushroom body, which is where things get quite fun.
What we’ll need for this are some watercolour paints and some clear silicone – this clear
silicone is usually used for sealing edges in bathrooms and kitchens, and is extremely
cheap to buy. As it’s pretty sticky until it dries, try
not to get it on your fingers as it can get a bit messy. If you do get some on yourself,
use some white spirit to remove it, as soap doesn’t cut through it very well.
To give the silicone some colour we can mix it with some of the watercolour paints. A
good mixing surface is an old plastic carton lid, as it can be thrown away after use.
I quite like natural colours for these mushrooms, so I’m going to go with a nice reddish brown
colour, but you can choose whatever colour you like depending on what style you’re going
for. Once the first batch is mixed up we can transplant
it to some cling film, place an LED stem on top, and then fold over the cling film with
the stem as near to the edge as possible. Now we can mould the silicone around the resistors
and wires. It’s pretty easy to get a smooth finish.
After around 3 hours we can peel off the cling film, and pull off any straggly bits. We’re
now left with a nice neat stem that can be bent into different positions.
So now we can prepare the base making it ready for the stems. To make it we’ll need something
we can drill into, like driftwood or tree bark. The base will contribute a lot to the
final look of the lights, so it’s worth going with something that looks decent.
All we need to do is get a drill bit that’s a similar width to our stems and use it to
make some through holes in the base. The positioning of these holes is fairly important, as we
want to mimic how real mushrooms grow, so it’s worth looking at some photos for some
inspiration. Now we’ve made the holes we can push through
the stem wires, but before inserting the stem itself we can place a blob of silicone over
the hole which will glue the stem in place when it gets pushed in.
After we’ve glued in all our stems we can start working on the mushroom domes.
The process is very similar to how we made the stems. So we’ll mix up some more silicone,
and blob it onto a piece of cling film, and again fold over the cling film but this time
with the blob in the middle rather than the edge.
Now we can mould it into a mushroom dome shape. To get a good defined edge it helps to pinch
from the outside inwards. Although it’s possible to mould it into a
dome shape using only your fingers, wrapping it around something does help a lot. I used
a knife handle, but a small bouncy ball should also work. If you’re going for particularly
small mushrooms you could even use the bottom of a pen. Once done we can hold it up to the light to
get a preview of how it will look. Variations and blotches are a good thing as they’ll help
the mushrooms look particularly organic. Again, once they’re dry we can clean up the
edges, and they’re now ready to mount onto the stems.
Now, mounting the domes too close to the LEDs results in a bright spot in the centre of
the dome, so we need to make sure there’s sufficient space between the domes and the
LEDs for the light to be distributed more evenly.
To do this we need to get some more stiff wire from, say, some cable ties, and bend
it into a circle that will fit nicely inside the mushroom domes.
Before soldering this support onto a stem, we can cut out a piece of tissue that’s larger
than one of the domes, make a hole in its centre, and then push it down over one of
the stems. Now all we need to do is solder the support
to the antenna of the stem, and then pull up the tissue and wrap it around the support,
using some silicone to glue it in place. Now we can add some more silicone on top, and
squash on the dome. The tissue helps to not only hide the wires
from view, but also spreads the light and looks great from underneath, mimicking a real
mushroom. Now all we’ve got to do is wire up the stems
to the battery pack. As LEDs need the correct polarity to light up, we’ll test each set
of wires before soldering them up. To keep things neat we can use some electrical tape
or heat shrink. As my base couldn’t stand up reliably, I glued
a stone to the back to keep it upright. If you want to avoid any visible wires, you could
glue the battery pack to the back instead, which would do a similar job.
So we can now turn them on and admire our handiwork. An extra bonus of gluing the battery pack
to the back is that it allows you to mount the mushrooms onto a wall without any visible
wires. So I hope you’ve enjoyed this video. Don’t
forget that you can get really creative with your designs. These bracket fungi ones, which
are my personal favourite, were simply made by moulding the domes to the shape of the
wood, and not adding any silicone on the very short stems underneath.
Let me know in the comments what colours or styles you might try, and if you did enjoy
this video, don’t forget to give it a thumbs up and maybe consider subscribing if you haven’t
already. I hope I see you in my next video, where I’ll
be showing you how to make a one click automatic backup system, which keeps your data safe
because backups are made much more regularly due to its ease.
Alternatively, you might want to take a look at my previous video in which we go through
the process of making an insanely bright 1000w equiv. LED flashlight. This is one of my favourite
projects I’ve done on the channel, so if you’ve not seen it yet it’s worth a watch. So other than that, I’ll see you next time.
Bye for now!