LED Alien Projector Project

Make an Alien Appear Using LEDs

By Brian McNamara
Make Magazine: Volume 16, p. 104

This simple projector shines an image of an alien on the wall. It uses an LED as the light source and projects an image varying in size from a few inches to several feet. The simple circuit consists of only a battery, resistor, switch and LED. A very fun electronics project.

Alien Projector Required Tools:
Wire cutters
Wire strippers
Sharp knife
Hot glue gun
Soldering iron

Parts List:
Green LED
Resistor 330R
SPST panel mount switch
6" of wire
9V battery
Battery clip
1-3/4" PVC pipe, 6-1/2" long
3/16" balsa wood sheet, 6"x4"
3/8" x 1/2" balsa wood stick, 4" long
Alien template
Heat-shrink tubing (optional)

Basic circuit

Step 1: Build The Basic Circuit

Trim the resistor and LED leads to 1/4" long and solder one end of the resistor onto the negative lead of the LED. Cut about 6" of wire and solder it to the positive lead of the LED. Put a piece of heat-shrink tubing over the black (negative) wire of the 9V battery clip, then solder the wire to the other leg of the resistor. Solder the red (positive) wire from the battery clip to the middle terminal of the switch. Place heat-shrink tubing over this wire if you wish. Solder the positive LED wire to one of the outside pins of the switch.

Basic circuit

Step 2: Build The Case Parts

Print the templates of the front and back plates, cut them out and tape them to the balsa wood sheet. With a sharp knife, cut out the inside of the template first, then the outside. Use the cross on the back template to mark the hole for the switch. Cut two 1-3/4" lengths of balsa wood stick. With the knife, drill a 3/16" hole in the middle of one, and a 1/4" hole in the middle of the other. Drill a 1/4" hole in the middle of the balsa back plate where it's marked, then glue the stick with the 1/4" hole to the back plate.

Alien Projector

Step 3: Assemble Projector

Glue the LED into the stick with the 6" hole. Fit the switch to the back plate. Fit the LED stick into the middle of the PVC pipe, then glue the front plate onto the pipe. Snap the battery into the battery clip, then fit the back plate into place. To set up the projector, place it in a dark room 1' to 4' from the wall. Move it closer to the wall for a smaller image, and farther away for a bigger image. The best thing about this project is that you can cut out any simple image and project it onto the wall, such as pumpkins for Halloween and a tree for Christmas.

If you have an electronics story or project you'd like to share, please email [email protected]