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Wiring the lanterns with LEDs

2019-01-19 by David

This is the "how-to" guide for wiring the Samurai Lanterns with LEDs - a surprisingly easy job!

You will need:


  • Small LED tealight from the dollar/pound store or Ikea.
  • CR2032 battery (3V battery commonly found in tealights)
  • Metal paperclip
  • Wire clippers
  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver

£ This is what you start with - a simple plastic LED tealight (approximately 50 yen or 50 cents) and some paperclips. Open the bottom of the LED and remove the battery. This is likely to be a CR2032 battery, with a diameter of 20mm.

£ Open up the LED light and remove the LED bulb. Typically, these are simply held in by one screw. I was lucky enough to have bought flickering LEDs, which would look even better in the finished lanterns!


Your bulb will probably look like the photo above, with two thin wires coming out from the bottom.

£ Take your lantern body and bend the wires from the bulb slightly, so that they fit into the two holes on top.



£ Push your bulb down into the socket, just to check everything fits so far.

£ Remove the bulb. Unfold your paperclip and cut it into two pieces. DON'T use your best quality clippers for this - some paperclips have pretty strong wire, which may damage your clippers!


Using pliers, bend one wire into a rough L-shape (as shown above, on the left), and the other into a J-shape (shown above, on the right).

£ From the bottom of the lantern, insert the L-shape wire into the central hole as shown.


The J-shape wire is inserted into the corner hole and bent flat. If the fit is a bit loose, just bend the wires slightly in the middle and insert again. These wires form the + and - connections for the battery.


£ On the top of the lantern, you can cut the two wires pretty much flush with the surface.


* It's worth mentioning that you can also solder the paperclip wires to the bulb wires, if you want to, but it's not essential. In this case, solder the wires first, then insert from the top and bend the bottom ends underneath.

£ If you insert your bulb wires back into the top, they will squeeze against the paperclips wires inside the pipes, giving you a simple push-fit circuit.


Then simply insert your CR2032 battery into the bottom and the corner wire should hold it in place firmly. At this point, your lantern should light up!!

£ Place the top on the lantern, and you're done.


You could go a stage further and insert some thin paper inside the lantern cage, to diffuse the glow of the LED. I cut some tracing paper to 7x30mm, and then folded it in four lengthways.


£ Official product photos of the lanterns will follow in a couple of days, but for now, here's a sneak peek of the Test of Honour game board I set up for our club event tomorrow. It's a night ambush, so those sneaky ninja had better keep away from the lights....


Tags: samurai  assembly  LED 


2019-01-20 (Sun) 14:45PM

Shame that there is no way to incorporate the tea light body itself into the model. It would be a great asset to have an on/off switch from the tea light instead of having to disassemble it to turn it off

2019-01-21 (Mon) 10:28AM

Thanks for the comment, Xphile! Yes, I totally agree it would have been cool to incorporate a switch too, but for reasons of keeping the size down, and the proportions right, I had to do it that way. Plus with all the variations in size and switch mechanisms across the world, this just seemed easier to ensure compatibility. Sorry!

2019-01-23 (Wed) 0:42AM

Bought and printed today... I like them very much, but after assembly they are kinda "wobbly"... It would be great if they would have some kind of "slide" on the downside, looking like a stone-base.. like a... little "battery-drawer" that fixes the battery and the wire...

David (3DAlienWorlds)
2019-01-23 (Wed) 9:49AM

My first design did have a battery drawer hidden in one of the planks on the side, but I abandoned it due to space problems and connection problems.

You should be able to bend the wire back up inside slightly, to remove th wobble?

Christian (PimpMyBoardGame)
2019-02-12 (Tue) 12:21PM

Thanks for this! I just got the lanterns printed up and I can't wait to try them out. I bet you can insert some wax paper in between the bottom of the battery and the bottom wire to stop the connection and turn them "off." I'll give it a try when I get my lights ready.

2020-01-27 (Mon) 11:59AM

Made few of these today. $1 each for flickering lights and couple paperclips, very easy to do and they look awesome!

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