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Want to spice up your Halloween decorations this year? Learn how to make LED eyes for less than $5 in this beginner’s electronics project.

This is a fun project that can be completed in an hour. If you have an Arduino starter kit What’s Included In An Arduino Starter Kit? [MakeUseOf Explains] What’s Included In An Arduino Starter Kit? [MakeUseOf Explains] I have previously introduced the Arduino open-source hardware here on MakeUseOf, but you’re going need more than just the actual Arduino to build something out of it and actually get started. Arduino "starter kits" are... Read More you may have many of these components already, but don’t worry, no Arduino is needed. The end result is a set of battery powered LED eyes that you can throw in the bushes or other objects.

Here’s what they look like in the dark:

Spooky Eyes Result

What You Need

Spooky Eyes Parts

Total cost: $44.44. That’s not even close to $5!

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Well, the trouble with purchasing electronic components online is that it gets very expensive if you only want one or two. It’s a much better choice to purchase several of each item. These parts are enough to make 20 sets of eyes, for a total cost of $2.22 each! You also end up with some spare components for future projects — always a good thing. Make sure you check out these electronic learning websites Get Started On DIY Electronic Projects with These Learning Sites Get Started On DIY Electronic Projects with These Learning Sites Building our geeky ideas has never before been so easy. Now is the time to learn DIY electronics, and these are our top recommended resources for doing just that. Read More for more project ideas.

Tools

Spooky Eyes Tools

You will need some basic tools for this project. You could get by with tape and cable ties, but that wouldn’t make a very reliable connection.

  • Wire cutters
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Wire strippers
  • Solder-sucker
  • Solder
  • Soldering Iron
  • Helping hands” (UK)

Don’t worry if you do not know how to solder, we’ve shown you how to get started Learn How to Solder, with These Simple Tips and Projects Learn How to Solder, with These Simple Tips and Projects Are you a little intimidated by the thought of a hot iron and molten metal? If you want to start working with electronics, you're going to need to learn to solder. Let us help. Read More . You may have many of these tools already, and you can get by without having all of them, however it’s a simple selection that should be staples of your toolbox.

The Circuit

Spooky Eyes Circuit

This is a simple circuit — don’t feel intimidated by it. Three AA batteries are connected in series (one after another). Doing this increases the voltage to 4.5V (each AA battery is 1.5V). Connecting the batteries in parallel would increase the current instead — this is not necessary, as the minimum voltage needed to light a single LED is about 1.8V–2.4V, slightly more than one battery can provide.

A resistor is needed to limit the current going to the LEDs. Never connect an LED directly to the power supply, they will usually burn out. There is a set formula for calculating the required resistor (although LEDs will often tolerate a small difference). This website is brilliant for calculating what you need. If you would like to use more LEDs, or a different battery setup, enter the following details:

  • Supply Voltage (4.5v in this case, from 3 x 1.5v batteries)
  • Voltage drop across LED – this is usually between 1.8V and 2.4V
  • Desired LED current — usually 20mA
  • Number of LEDs connected

The retailed you purchase your LEDs from will often state these specifications. Press click to calculate to get the resistor value you need.

Finally, the switch simply turns the circuit ON and OFF. You don’t have to use this, although it will save the battery life when not in use.

Wiring It Up

Spooky Eyes Led Wiring

First, make sure there are no batteries in the battery holders! It can be dangerous to heat up batteries too much. Solder the battery holders together, going from red to black to red. You should have a red and black cable (one at each end of your circuit so far) “free” for the rest of the circuit.

Spooky Eyes Soldering

Make sure you cut a piece of heat shrink tubing and slip it over the wire before you start soldering. You want a piece with a diameter only slightly larger than your wire — this will produce a nice tight “join” when heated up. Don’t heat up the tubing just yet though.

Spooky Eyes Heatshrink

Now solder the resistor to the anode (long, positive leg) on one of the resistors.

Spooky Eyes Resistor

Solder the red wire from the batteries to the resistor. It can be a bit tricky to solder directly to component legs. Make sure your soldering iron tip is nice and clean. It may help to slightly file the component legs if things are being difficult. Use a piece of heat shrink tubing long enough to cover the whole resistor, but don’t heat it up just yet.

Spooky Eyes Resistor Heatshrink

Now solder the cathode (short, negative leg) of the LED to the anode of the next LED — you may want to use a small length of wire for more flexibility in positioning when complete. Next, solder another wire to the cathode of the second LED — this will go to the switch. Make sure you cut your heat shrink tubing and place it over the wires before soldering, but don’t heat it up just yet.

Spooky Eyes Led Wiring

Now solder this wire to the middle connector of the switch:

Spooky Eyes Switch

Don’t forget the heat shrink tubing!

Spooky Eyes Switch

Finally, solder the last black wire from the battery packs to any outer leg of the switch — it does not matter which one.

Testing

Spooky Eyes Led Test

Now before you heat up all the heat shrink tubing, insert your batteries and check everything works. The switch should turn the LEDs on and off, and light wiggling and poking of the components should not cause the circuit to cut out.

If the circuit does not work, do not worry! There are some simple troubleshooting steps you can try:

  • Ensure the batteries are fully charged.
  • Switch the circuit on.
  • Double check all the connections are soldered correctly.
  • Double check the circuit is wired correctly.

If everything works, go ahead and remove the batteries and heat up the heat shrink tubing. A hairdryer is excellent for this, although a soldering iron can do the job in a pinch. Be careful about using a hot-air gun, the intense heat may melt the plastic components.

You may want to bundle the wires up with a small cable tie. Do this with the circuit on, to ensure you do not over-tighten and potentially break the circuit.

Spooky Eyes Cable Tie

Now all that’s left is to fit it to your project. Here’s what they look like in the dark — pretty cool:

Spooky Eyes Result

Hot glue works well for a strong but not permanent fixing, although tape could work equally as well.

Now that you are a soldering ninja, you can progress onto more complex projects, such as these Arduino frights 8 Amazing Halloween Frights You Can Make With An Arduino 8 Amazing Halloween Frights You Can Make With An Arduino Learning electronics with an Arduino is fun, but using one to scare the life out of trick-or-treating children is just downright heavenly. Read More . Have a look at these awesome house decoration ideas 10+ Awesome Geeky Halloween DIY House Decoration Ideas 10+ Awesome Geeky Halloween DIY House Decoration Ideas Read More , and make sure you check out how to sync your home lights and music How to Sync Home Lights and Music for Halloween How to Sync Home Lights and Music for Halloween Whether you're hosting a Halloween house party or want the coolest haunted house in the neighborhood, making your lights flash in time to music and sound effects is essential. Read More  — it’s amazing!

Have you made anything after following this tutorial? I’d love to know in the comments below!

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