How to Make a Glowing Orb with a Tennis Ball & LEDs

In this article, I'll show you how to make a glowing orb. The orb is a fun, round flashlight useful for lighting your path in a magical way. Consisting simply of LEDs, a tennis ball, a battery and a switch, it's a great simple project for beginners with electronics. Here's a video of it in action:

Tools and Materials

  • About 10 white LEDs (or whatever color you'd like. LEDs are available at most every electronics stores, or you can nab them from flashlights)
  • An old (charged) cell phone battery
  • A push on/push off switch (also available at most electronics stores)
  • Hot glue
  • Rubber cement
  • Wire (very high gauge wire, or very thin, plastic coated wire. Available at most electronics stores)
  • Soldering iron
  • Flux core solder
  • Hot glue gun
  • Wire cutters
  • A drill

The Procedure

  1. Solder your LEDs in a parallel line on a strip of double wire about a foot long, spaced an inch apart (see image below). Leave a little room at the end for the switch and battery.How to Make a Glowing Orb with a Tennis Ball & LEDs
  2. Now, take your tennis ball and cut a square hole for your switch. Then, drill holes (with a drill bit about the size of the LEDs you chose) one inch apart, all along the "white line" that wraps around the tennis ball. This smells awful, looks awful, and creates smoke, so do it in a well ventilated area. How to Make a Glowing Orb with a Tennis Ball & LEDs
  3. Now, remove all casing from the cell phone battery, including the chip at the top. It should look like this:How to Make a Glowing Orb with a Tennis Ball & LEDs
  4. Solder the battery in series with the switch and LED:How to Make a Glowing Orb with a Tennis Ball & LEDs
  5. Partially slice along the curved white line for about three inches using an exacto knife, like so: How to Make a Glowing Orb with a Tennis Ball & LEDs
  6. Squeeze all the LEDs into the holes you drilled in the tennis ball, and test it out. If nothing lights up, check your connections.How to Make a Glowing Orb with a Tennis Ball & LEDs
  7.  Now carefully insert the switch and battery so that it fits snugly, without shorting any connections. I had a few extra LEDs, so I added them into extra holes in the ball. Feel free to do so yourself, however it gets more difficult with more LEDs. How to Make a Glowing Orb with a Tennis Ball & LEDs
  8. Glue the hole you cut closed with rubber cement, and hot glue if you see fit. Then hot glue around the LEDs, so that the glue fills in the holes around them. How to Make a Glowing Orb with a Tennis Ball & LEDs
  9. Test it again, and your done! The cell phone battery should last for a very, very long time, mine's been going for intermediate use for the last six months.

How to Make a Glowing Orb with a Tennis Ball & LEDs

Tips

  • Shave off any "Guck" left over from drilling with an exacto knife. It looks better.
  • Cut off any excess glue—again, it makes it look better.
  • Don't over-exert the wires when inserting LEDs; it's damaging, and you will end up resoldering connections.
  • Don't drop excessively or smash, the electronics are relatively fragile.
  • If fitted, spray paint the ball any color you like :)

Warnings

  • Soldering irons are hot! Be careful.
  • Same goes for the glue gun.
  • Don't short the cell phone battery, its damaging and can be dangerous.
  • Again, don't abuse your glowing orb, they are fragile. Protect the soul within.
  • Don't throw at people!! This is not Skyrim.

15 Comments

If this bounces, it's great for playing with a dog in the dark. very cool.

It doesn't bounce very well, unless you fill it with silicone :) For those who want a bouncy orb, just buy some standard silicone and squirt some into the ball before you glue the hole shut. Allow to dry for about two days, then seal up the opening.

nice. easy solution.

Very cool. 6 months out of one charge is amazing.

i know! those lithi-ion cell phone batteries have quite the capacity. of course, that was six months of intermittent use, not constant.

Can't see anybody using it constantly! Six months is definitely good, unless Fido bites down a little too hard. :) Now I just have to find my old cell phone battery...

A great way to get old cell phone batteries (and their attached cell phones, for the matter) is to go to cell phone stores and ask for a couple recycled cell phones people have turned in. They usually are happy to get rid of them :)

I'm curious to how my kitty will react to it xD.

I love LED lights. They cost a lot initially for your house, and theyre a little dim, but my blackouts are always drawn anyways because I use a projector instead of a TV. But they're so worth it. Lights barely contributes to my electric bill now because of how little electricity they use :D.

nice! and also, you can power them with very little power. i saw someone who electrolyzed water using a solar panel, then turned the hydrogen and oxygen back into water and captured the electricity ,and powered several LED lights :) of course, you could simply charge a battery...but the idea was cool lol

Neat idea. Have you tried using the multi-color LED lights? The ones from Radio Shack will cycle through seven different colors with no special circuit needed. It's built in to the LED.

yeah i have! only with a ping pong ball :) the only issue, they take lots of power

How about a light chaser circuit for your LEDs?

that would work, in fact, thats an awesome idea...i could implement a little 8pin PIC chip or atmega chip in there and create synchronized patters.... :D

Check out www.talkingelectronics.com under PIC Projects "LEGO Chaser" It uses a PIC12F629- Seven routines on two sets of 10 LEDs

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