Friday, January 24, 2014

BATTERY LIGHTING FOR MINIATURE DOLLHOUSE ROOM BOXES - How to use batteries to light your miniature dollhouse room boxes.

I'm back and I have your January tutorial made.  I am using the room box I made last month and showing how to use batteries to light it.  The first part of the tutorial shows how to make a battery operated table lamp.  I am showing you this because you can't use the doll house lamps in the catalogs, they run on 12 volts. It would take 8 batteries to run one light.  Batteries are 1.5 volts whether they are AAA, AA, C or D.  They all have different Amp hours, how long the run.

The lights are on!

This tutorial probably is for U.S. residents mostly.  I am using DC current (batteries) and I haven't any knowledge of batteries in Europe.  I know that Europe uses DC current in there full size homes, where we use AC current in our homes.  I don't know if batteries are the same all over the world.

I shopped at Radio Shack for my supplies.

After researching batteries, milliAmps and volts I decided on using this light bulb.  You won't be able to change the lights bulbs when they burn out, but I am thinking that probably won't happen for a very long time if I've got my figures right!  The way I've got it worked out is 1 light bulb for each "AA" battery.

Looking at the radio shack website I found that they have battery holders with leads (that's important) for "AA" batteries for 1, 2, 3, 4 and six batteries.  That means you can have 1, 2, 3, 4, or 6 lights in the room box.  They also have an 8 "AA" battery holder but I think after 6 lights you are better off with a transformer to plug into the wall.  That's just my opinion, though.

For this room box I am going to use 2 lights, one for the table lamp and one to light up the window.

Supplies from Radio Shack:

2  of      272-1139  Mini Lamp with 1 3/4" hook up leads 1.5 volts (the same voltage at as 1 "AA" battery), 25mA.   There is 1 per package for 1.99, you need 2 packages.  I looked up how many mA (milliAmps) a "AA" battery has, internet said 1500, so I'm good.

1 of       275-0032 SPST Submini Slide Switch these are packaged 2 per package you need one package, $3.49.

1 of      270-408 Enclosed 2 "AA" Battery Holder these are packaged 1 per package you need one package, 2.49.

2 of     "AA" Alkaline Batteries 

From Hobby Builders

50 ft Electrical wire - #2217   $4.75

From any big box hardware store electrical tape.

I used a window for my room box, you could use a door for a closet, pantry or showing a partial room. Another idea is to use a single French door to show a partial garden.

You can use lots of different things for a lamp base.  Look around for things, just remember we need to get the wiring through so we need to have a hole through what ever you choose.

I am going to use a gallery spindle. These can be found at a big box hardware store, Home Depot, while you are there get your electrical tape.

These spindles are used this way, to make what's called a gallery rail.  The spindles are made in different shapes, the ones my husband used to make this cabinet are different from those I purchased for the lamp bases.  You can also find these on-line.

The size I am using is 1 1/8", NOT including the tenons (that's the small round dowels on each end).

The first thing we need to do is to saw off the tenons at the top and bottom.


Use a "T" pin to mark the center on the top and bottom of the spindle.

I am using my Dremel to drill the hole through the spindle.  You see I have a selection of drill bits on the table. Starting with probably a 1/16" bit and ending with a 7/64" bit.  That's the largest I have, it's just under an 1/8".  I need to get an 1/8" bit.
Start with the smallest bit, keep the Dremel straight and drill into the top, maybe a half inch.  Do the same for the bottom.  Change to the next bit and drill again into the top and bottom of the spindle going a little further into the spindle.  Change to the next bit and so on until you are through.

I'm through.

I cut a little of the plastic covering off of the light bulb to be able to get it into the hole of my lamp base.

I have my light bulb in the lamp base. Don't pull on the wires, push the bulb and wires down into the whole.

To be able  for the lamp base to set flat on the table we need to cut out a slot for the wires to set in.
Use a saw to cut two lines into the bottom of the lamp base.

Use what ever is comfortable for you to cut the rest of the slot.  I like using my craft knife and files.

Don't be afraid to cut a big slot.  This is a picture of the lamp right before I put the wiring in.  I had to make the slot larger than I had it so I wanted you to see the final size I made it.

I am going to paint and sand the lamp base several times to get a smooth finish.

This is a pattern for a lamp shade.  Use the instructions in the "Things to do, Things to see" list on the left side of the blog for HOW TO RE-SIZE THE PATTERNS.

I printed the pattern onto card stock and traced it onto a small piece of fabric.

I did not have any fabric stiffener so I used what I had, Mod Podge, to stiffen the fabric.  I would have used fabric stiffener if I would have had it.

I coated both sides of the fabric.  I didn't do that the first time and when the fabric dried you could see that the coating didn't go though and the look of the fabric was uneven.

I let this dry.

Digger is trying to get into trouble, again!  I had started this project before I got sick and left the parts and pieces out on my table.  Of course, I thought I was going to be coming back but ended up in bed for a few days.  When I did get to come back I found that the wire had been bit into pieces and spread around on the table and floor.
Always put your things away, Kris!

Back to the lamp base.  I am going to put these doo-dads on the lamp base. Nail art supplies will sometimes have things to use for miniatures.

I have painted and sanded and painted again until I had a nice smooth finish.  I painted the bottom gold.

I put the nail art doo-dad on the front of the lamp base.

I put a coat of acrylic varnish over everything to give the lamp base the look of being ceramic.

After the fabric is dry, cut the shade out.

I used tacky glue to glue the shade together.  Over lap to the line.

You can add trimmings to the top and bottom if you would like.

Look around for some stiff plastic.  I had saved a container from Butter Flavor Crisco Sticks.  Good Cookies!!

Use the circle pattern to cut a circle from the plastic.

Use a "T" pin to make a hole in the center of the plastic circle.

Use your Dremel to drill a hole large enough for the bulb wiring to fit through.

Since this is just a model for you to go by I don't know how long I should cut my doll house wiring from Hobby Builders.  I took a estimated measurement and cut the wire at 20 inches.

The wire is in two separate channels.

Carefully straighten out the wire so that you can mark one channel with a black marker.  You just need some intermittent lines.

I am doing this because the wire leads from the bulb have a white wire and a black wire.  I don't know if it would make a difference if we mix them up, but I'm not taking any chances.

Insert the bulb and wires into the lamp base.

We have to attach the doll house wire to the wire leads from the bulb.  I want the doll house wire coming out from the lamp base, not the wire leads.  Mark where the leads are at the bottom of the lamp base.

We have to strip the plastic covering from the wire leads.

Take note:  I should have started the stripping a little closer to the bulb.

Use your craft knife to carefully skim over the plastic to bare the wires.

Cut the doll house wiring apart, it doesn't take much to this, once cut it will pull apart.

Carefully strip the plastic off the the doll house wiring.

Trim the extra plastic off of the wiring and twist the copper wires together.

Twist the leads from the bulb with the doll house wire.  Keep white with white and black with black.

A note here: if you can solder how wonderful that must be, I can't solder, I melt the copper wires!  Solder your wires together.

I used electric tape to cover the bare wires.

I am gluing the plastic circle to the plastic coating of the bulb.  I used "The Ultimate!" glue.  I think a silicone glue would work well, also.

Apply the glue.

Push the plastic circle up to the bulb.

Let this dry.

You can just see the black electrical tape peeking out of the slot.

I glued the wires into the slot.

Unscrew the screw to take the lid off your battery holder.  Insert the batteries.

He just keeps trying to get into the box!

We are going to do a trial run for the lamp to see if the wires are right.

Black wire to black wire and the white wire to the red, just touch them . . .

"It's working!"

Set the lamp base aside for the plastic circle to finish drying.

Stay out of the box!  Normally Digger just lays around and sleeps on the stuff on the table, but now that I have the best toy ever, a box, on the table I can't get him to stop nosing around.

I have a little 6 inch ruler that I use to draw my line for the wall.  I measured 4 3/16" from the corner on each wall.

I measured the height of my room box, 7 5/8", the length of the wall is 6 ".

I measured my window and drew lines where I wanted it to be.

Hold your craft knife at a diagonal and cut the wall out.  Do this so that the false wall will fit against the box walls.

If you didn't get enough of an angle you may have to cut again.

Set  your window or door onto the false wall to check if you have the measurements correct.

Cut the hole out.

Set the false wall into the room box.

At this point you would make this corner, be it a bit of outside or if you use a door maybe a closet.

Keep in mind where the light bulb will be with any scenario you choose.

Apply a line of tacky glue to the inside of the lamp shade about an 1/8" from the bottom.

Set the shade onto the plastic circle and let dry.

If you use something else for the lamp base and you have a bit of light bulb wiring showing between the base and shade wrap a piece of paper around the wire and paint it.

Decide where your lamp is going to be and make a hole in the foam core near that location.

Draw a corresponding line on the top of the room box representing the false wall.

Make a hole for your light bulb.

At this point you are gluing in your false wall and beginning to decorate the room box.  Wall paper, carpet, base board and maybe cornice along the ceiling.

I have not done this because this is a model for your wiring.

In the previous picture I had you make one hole, I would rather you make two holes for the two wires to go through. I am using a scrap of foam core to do this, now.

I have glued my scrap to the top of the room box.

Cut a hole for the switch.

This is the final wiring.  My room box would have some kind of decorative covering to finish the outside.  My wires would be cut to length.

Take out your batteries.
Find the location where you want the battery holder to be and secure with glue.  If you need to shorten the red wire do it now and strip the wire. Twist or solder the red wire to one of the tabs on the switch. If you are wrapping use electrical tape to cover the wire.

I have my lamp in the room box and have brought the wire through the hole and up the back of the box.

Twist the black wire to the black wire to the black wire of the light bulb that's in the corner of your room box.

Twist the white wire to white wire of the light bulb that's in the corner of your room box.

I have cut another piece of doll house wire and marked one channel with black intermittent  marks.

Twist the black wire of this new piece to the black wires of the twisted wires lamp and light bulb.

Twist the white wire of the new piece to the white wires of the twisted wires of the lamp and light bulb.

I do apologize that just looks so messy, I would re-do that.

These can be soldered now or cover them with electrical tape.

Twist the black side of the doll house wire with the black wire of the battery holder.

Solder this connection or cover with electrical tape.

Twist the white side of the doll house wire to the other tab on the switch.

Solder or wrap with electrical tape.

Fit the switch into the hole, the "switch part with still be sticking out so you can turn the lights on and off, only the tab part is inside.  The wires will be coming out from the side of the switch to the top of the box.

I usually apply clear packing tape to the wiring after I have a check to see if the wiring is correct.

Keep an eye on your lights, replace the batteries into the holder.  You may have to move the switch to turn the lights on.  I didn't tell you which direction your switch should be in.  I  didn't have to move my switch, my lights came on as soon as my second battery was put in.  If your lights aren't on after you've tried moving the switch you don't have a good connection with your twisting, go back and check this out.

Lights out.

Lights on.

I know you are going to want to know how to hook up more lights.  Let me think about it for a few days and I will post a diagram for you.

Right now arms are getting tired.  Digger lays on them while I type.

Don't forget to send me pictures for the Follower's Gallery,

Please don't ask questions in the comments, if you have any questions please send them to the e-mail address above.

Have fun, Expand on it, Make it Better,

Just Keep Making Minis!!

TTUL  Kris