Flickering Pumpkin Lanterns


Halloween is coming and [Paulo] decided to make some flickering jack-o-lanterns by hijacking the flickering circuit of a cheap LED tea light to drive a much more powerful light!

He has tons of old 12V incandescent bulbs collecting dust, so he decided to make use of them for some holiday fun. He wondered if he could steal the circuit from the flickering LED tea lights and use them to drive the incandescents. Upon taking the LED tea candle apart, he discovered there was no circuit, as it was in fact embedded in the LED itself! Not to worry though, he simply integrated the flickering LED into his circuit! Coupling a capacitor with the LED, he used a transistor amplifier to take the signal, and then finally boosted it using a MOSFET to drive the light bulbs. He then powered the entire thing using an old laptop power brick. Nice one [Paulo]!

Do you have any cool Halloween hacks? Don’t forget to send them in to the tip line! For other pumpkin fun, check out last year’s Pumpkin Tetris!

19 thoughts on “Flickering Pumpkin Lanterns

    1. The circuit “from” the tea light IS the tea light! You connect them to a battery and they flicker away, convincingly. It’s an ordinary-looking LED with some sort of flickering circuit built into the LED housing, possibly on or near the chip that emits the light. Perhaps a look with a magnifying glass would prove illuminating. A-ho-ho!

      As the tea LED naturally flickers on and off, it’s current draw will vary accordingly. The AC component of this drives the transistor through the capacitor, so the lamps will flicker on and off in time with the LED.

  1. I would have used a photoresistor I imagine.

    The problem I’ve always had with the fake candles is that they’re limited by the poor frequency range of the LED. They don’t have the warmth of a real candle flame. I imagine that there are some better engineered versions than the dollar store version I’ve seen though.

  2. The pound shop near me has some gizmo or other with a full-colour randomly changing RGB LED. I haven’t bought one but I’d guess it’s the same 2-pin thing, I know you can buy them as components.

    They also do those tiny USB Bluetooth dongles. Not bad for a pound. Even Ebay does them for more than that.

    1. I did take apart a USB air freshener though. A small PCB that itself made up the USB plug, leading back to 2 little SMD resistors. I forget the value but they added up to 500mA at 5V. You’re supposed to pour a little bottle of some bizarre smelling toxic waste on to evaporate it.

      Which is ironically a job performed in the past by those vapourisers powered by… a tea candle! Awesome!

  3. Hi, I actually did this last year but used a red 1W LED, flickering LED and a 2N3053 with the flicker LED connected between Vcc and base and the LED on the collector.
    Was still working three days later but got dimmer as the batteries faded.

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