The following instructions are to be used to create an LED Hula Hoop using irrigation tubing and Maker Kits found on this website. The kit and instructions are designed so that you can assemble the hoop in about 2 hours using minimal tools and where soldering connections is optional. There are always more advanced ways to assemble and finish the hoop. If there are any advanced tips they will be noted throughout the page or at the bottom.
You can follow these instructions for both 3/4 inch and 1 inch thick hoops. The only difference is there is some modification recommended for the 1 inch connector as seen in step Eight.
And for the thinner 3/4 inch hoops you would use a strand of thin wire near the battery if the fit is too tight.
These kits do not include resistors because they are not required in this combination of LEDs and Battery.
Tubing Length: You should have 10.5 feet of white tubing to make a 40 inch diameter hoop
To make a hoop of a different diameter please use the calculator on the right column of this site and cut your tube accordingly
One Plastic Connector
One Battery with leads
About 12 feet of paired 22awg speaker wire
21 LEDs such as:
7 Blue LEDs
7 Green LEDs
7 Color Changing LEDs
(Or some other color combination depending on your purchase)
Automatic Wire Strippers – These allow you to quickly and easily remove wire insulation only where needed leaving the complete length of wire intact. This is key for a solder-less assembly. You can find these at Radio Shack or Lowes for $16.99.
Stiff Steel Wire – 11 feet length- You can use this to help push the wire through your tube. Galvanized steel wire is easy to find in hardware stores. I recommend 22 or 16 Gauge thick wire. They can be purchases at Home Depot for $4 for 100 ft or $8 for 200 ft respectively.
16 Gauge is better but more expensive.
Power Drill/screw driver with drill bits
Metal File and Coarse Sandpaper
PVC Tube Cutter- if you haven’t already cut your tubing
Optional Tools: Dremel/Rotary tool (replaces power drill)
(Reading Hint: you can skim through all the photos by clicking the first one and then using you right arrow key to advance to the next in a slide show format)
Step One: Prepare the Wire:
The coil of wire is most likely two 12 foot long wires paired together. Leave them paired for now. If you already have two separate wires, you should tape them together at one end.
You are going to want to mark the wire to indicate where the LEDs will be attached. This location is going to be a factor of the hoop size and number of LEDs. A standard ProdMod hoop is 40 inches in diameter and requires a tube length of 10.5 feet long (126 inches), and has 21 LEDs which are spaced 6 inches apart.
For custom configurations follow this equation (working in inches):
1. subtract 8 inches from your tube length
2. subtract 1 from the number of LEDs you want to use
3. Divide your tube length result from step 1 by the LED result from step 2.
Using a black marker, mark both of the wires in intervals of 6 inches apart, or the interval you calculate for your custom hoop.
Start from one end and work your way to the other end. You can do this by using a ruler, measuring tape, or by folding the wire every 6 inches. Make sure you mark both sides of the pair. Later you will separate these and still have to see the marks on each wire. Only make one mark for each LED and no more than that. You will end up with extra length of wire at the other end. This will make it easier to fish the wire through the tube and will give plenty of slack for connecting the switch and battery.
Hold the end of the wire, the end with extra slack, and look closely at the end of your paired wire. You should see a small cut between the two wires. If you don’t see it, then use a pair of cutters to make the cut as shown in the photo.
Then you can simply take one end in each hand and pull it apart.
Pull it about 4 inches apart for now and label each wire using scotch tape. Label one wire as “+” and the other as “-“.
(You can also use the color coding on the wire itself, one wire has a white stripe, the other does not. But this is sometimes hard to see. Typically the white stripe is used for negative) Now go ahead and keep pulling the wire apart until you have two separate strands.
Step Two: Strip the wire:
You are going to have to strip away the plastic insulation of the wire at each of the point you marked. This exposes the copper wire that you will later attach the LEDs to in order to make you electrical connection. I highly recommend using a simple quick stripper tool to do this. Or use a standard wire stripping tool. I do NOT recommend using a knife or razor blade.
Work with one wire at a time. When you strip these areas start from one end and work your way to the other. NEVER use this tool on the same area twice, you will almost always cut the wire right off. See the video below for an example of the correct method.
See the video for how easy it is to strip using an automatic wire stripper
If you use the quick stripper you would probably get 1/8” gap each time.
This is ok if you are only going to wrap the LEDs in place and not solder, but a ¼” gap is better in general and easier for soldering.
To make the gaps bigger I recommend pulling the wire insulation apart with your hands. You may have to keep pulling each section in the same direction.
When this process is complete you should have two wires that each have insulation stripped in 21 locations about 6” apart from each other. Pair them up with each other again so that the stripped areas are next to each other as they were before you pulled the wire apart. Find the end with your positive and negative labels. Now pull the positive wire up about 1 inch so that the stripped areas are offset as seen in the photo.
Use scotch tape to fix the two wires together and strip the very ends of each wire on the side where the labels are – strip almost ½ an inch, you will use this later to connect to the battery.
Step Three: Prepare the LEDs:
The LEDs in your kit come in different bags so that you know which ones are Blue, Green, or Color changing. These LEDS were chosen for their brightness and subsequently they also don’t have any color tint on their lens. So as you work with these LEDs you will want to keep track of which color they are. You might want to work with only one color at a time and return them to the original labeled bag when you are done. Or set them aside in different areas of your workspace or in labeled cups or trays.
(In this kit you do not need to use resistors, but if you chose to you would solder them to the longer leg)
Step Four: Connect the LEDs:
First you’ll have to decide where you want each LED to go. Most kits supply you with an even number of each. So you could alternate them one at a time like Blue, Green Color, Blue, Green, Color etc. Start with the end of the wire pair that you have labeled and tied together.
Repeat this step for the remaining 20 LEDs in the color pattern you’ve chosen. Be sure that you are always connecting the longer leg to the positive wire and the shorter leg to the negative wire. Otherwise the LED will not light.
You will be twisting the legs of the LEDs onto the stripped area of the wires. Each LED should look like this.
Check out this video to see how to do it
Attach one at a time, and test them with a battery to ensure they are connected properly
Step Five: Test the LEDs
Use the battery to test your circuit after EACH connection so that you can catch a problem early. If any LEDs are not lit, check that they are in fact making a connection to the copper wire. Then check that they have the correct polarity. You can try removing the LED from the wires and attaching it backwards. If it lights up, then you can leave it in that position, do NOT try to bend the LED legs in a different direction, they may break. **Warning ** do not do this with the AA module kit, you have to attach at least 7 LEDs before powering with the AA module kit.
Step Six: Fix the LEDs and insulate
If ALL of your LEDs lit up as expected you can now fix them in place and insulate them. Here you could solder the LEDs to the wire for a permanent connection but I have made and used LED Hoops that I simply twisted LEDs onto the wires without any solder and they worked just fine. As long as you are confident you made a tight connection.
Whether you solder them or not you MUST insulate the positive wire and metal from the negative wire and metal. You can do this with one short piece of electric tape. White is preferred. You only need about 1.5 inches of tape per LED
ADVANCED TIP! – Silencing the hoop
If you are a real stickler for a silent hoop there are two ways to do this.
One method is to wrap the wire with clear packing tape, the stronger the better. You can wrap one layer of tape tightly around the wire from first LED to last LED. Make sure the sticky side of the tape is always covered by the smooth side. Only the smooth side of the tape should be on the outside. Do not only tape between LEDs. You should cover the LED bulb, it will not affect light output. The tape should cover the entire wire from first LED to last LED.
This stiffens the wire so that you can try sending it through the tube without the help of additional stiff wire (shown in step 9). This tape alone will be somewhat quiet, especially in thinner tubing, but you should slide the wire through the tube you have and shake it to see if you like it. If you want to make it quieter you can wrap a second layer of tape, but this time let the tape be wider, about the size of the inside diameter of your tube. You can do this for the whole length of the wire, but it might be hard to push through the tube. Instead you can just place a few extra pieces of tape between every second LED. The photo below is a bit exaggerated but this is the idea.
Now you should be able to push the wire through the tubing easily and prevent it from rattling. But don’t leave the wire in there just yet! You need to continue to the next step to prepare the tubing which involves drilling and cutting and you don’t want to damage the LED wire you just made. Or check out method 2 below for another way to silence the hoop.
Wrap the wires in a thin layer of bubble wrap about 2 inches wide and 3/16 thick. This prevents the LEDs from hitting the inside of the tube while you hoop. Which you wont notice with loud music, but some people prefer this treatment. These photos should help guide you.
Wrap it tightly so that it is not too thick for the tubing.
Be sure to face the bumpy bubbles towards the LEDs and leave the smooth surface on the outside. You wont be able to push the wire through the tube on its own but you can pull it using an extra piece of stiff wire shown in step 9.
The bubble wrap technique might be too thick for the thiner .6 x 0.75 inch hoop tubing. Method 1 with clear packing tape should work best.
Step Seven: Prepare the tubing
There are two ends on your tube, one will have the switch and a coupling fixed into the tube. The other is where the battery will slide into along with the looser fitting end of the coupling.
Using the connector, mark the tube to indicate how far the connector will reach into the tube. This gives you an idea of where the switch can be. Give yourself another inch to give you some room.
3 inches seems to be a good place to start. Use a marker to sketch out an area to fit your switch.
NOTE!! If you want to plan ahead for the possibility that you upgrade to a rechargeable battery in the future, then you should move the switch over another inch. So you will be about 4 inches from the end. Then later you can make the hole for the DC jack between your connector and your switch.
There are a few ways to cut the hole for the switch. You can use a box-cutter style razor or a very sharp knife – the tube is slippery always cut away from your body!! You can use a rotary tool (dremel) with either a cutting bit or cutting disc. Before cutting make sure to examine the switch you are using and identify its size. Sometimes smaller switches will be included in the Hoop kit. The standard large switch body width is about 0.300″ so you could also use a 1/4” drill bit to make two holes into the tubing. But if you have a smaller switch you’ll need to use a smaller drill bit. Either way you should use a marker to draw a rectangle that is the same size of your switch body WITHOUT THE FLAPS so you know where to cut. The switch sits inside the tube but the flaps are on the outside to prevent it from falling in. So start with a small diameter bit and work your way up in drill size. Or you can make 4 small holes at each corner and use a knife to cut out the square.
Then using a knife you can carve out the rectangular shape to fit the switch. But be very careful, the tube is very slippery, always cut away from your body. Or you might just use a dremel tool from start to finish. - Actually the dremel rotary tool is HIGHLY recommended. It worked extremely well in our LED Hoop Making Workshop and at the Maker Faire.
The switch in this kit has flaps on either end that keep it from falling into the tube. We are going to finish this switch installation later, but for now just make sure the hole is just big enough for ONLY the switch body.
Step Eight: Prepare the connector
This LED Hula Hoop uses a non rechargeable battery, so you are eventually going to have to open the hoop to change it. The connector for the 1 inch tube is very strong and very difficult to remove once attached. To make this possible, I highly recommend you reduce the diameter of one side of the connector. This is the side that will be closest to the battery and will need to be pulled out of the tube for battery replacement.
Use a metal file or coarse sandpaper to smooth the edges of the connector teeth.
As you trim the teeth edges, test the fit by pushing it into one end of your tube. You should be able to just get it in by twisting and pushing. You don’t want it too loose. And if you are measuring, the diameter should be about .830”. It’s better to be too big, then too small. You can always remove more material, but you can’t add it.
When you are done the connector looks something like this
You should do something similar for the 3/4 version as well.
Step Nine: Fish Wire Through:
Now you are ready to fish the LED wire through the tube. If you wrapped your LED wire in clear packing tape as described in Step 6, then you should be able to simply push the LED wire into the tube. You can follow the same steps below so that your extra length of wire comes out on the side with the switch hole. This technique might not work so well with the more flexible translucent tubing but you can try by extending the tube as straight as you can while you push the wire through.
If you did not wrap your LED wire with anything, or if you did wrap it with bubble wrap, then you should use an extra piece of stiff wire to help pull the LED wire with. A really cheap source of stiff wire is from the window installation section of a hardware store. The brand I used is called OOK. I used 22 Gauge galvanized steel wire, it even comes with a built in cutter and its about $3 for 100 feet. But it can be a little floppy sometimes so I would recommend get thicker wire like 18 gauge so its stronger and easier to send through the tube.
You’ll need about 11 feet of stiff wire. Basically a bit more than the length of your tube. The concept is simple, send the stiff wire through the tube first so you can use it to pull your wire through the tube. Unless you have stiffened the LED wire with clear packing tape mentioned about, the LED wire alone is probably too flimsy to push through the tube on its own.
You should have some extra slack at the end of your LED wire away from the LEDs. This is the end that will eventually be attached to the switch, jack and battery. You might have marked them “+” and “-”. Tie the stiff steel wire to that end of the wire.
Form a hook with one end of the stiff wire, and tie a single knot around that hook with the LED wire.
Then use the long portion of the stiff wire to wrap tightly around the LED wire. This should be tight enough so it wont come loose as you pull it through.
NOTE!! If you have wrapped the wire in plastic or bubble wrap make sure that the stiff metal wire is firmly attached to the LED wire and the plastic wrapping, not just the plastic.
To get the wire to align properly with the switch hole you will need to insert the stiff wire into the end of the tube opposite the switch. You should straighten out the stiff wire before sending it through to avoid it bending and kinking in the tube.
Slowly and gently pull the LED wire through the tube by pulling the stiff metal wire that you have exiting the tube near the switch. Have a friend help you straighten the hoop temporarily so that you feel the least resistance to movement. Especially if you have used plastic wrap or bubble wrap around the wire.
When you are done pulling the wire through you should see something like the photo below. Your last LED is on your right. DO NOT pull any further, that last LED might slip into the tube and drop too far, and you’ll have to start over again.
Now slowly pull the wire further until the last LED falls into the tube. Tape that end of the wire to the tube so that it doesnt fall in while you work on attaching your switch. Remove the stiff wire from the LED wire.
Step Ten: Switch installation:
If you are making a basic LED hoop with a non-rechargeable battery continue below.
Using a paper clip, bend it into the shape of a hook. Reach into the tube through the switch hole and gently pull out one of the wires into a short loop as shown in the photo below. It doesn’t matter which but you only need one. Sometimes its easier to hook both wires and pull them out slightly, but be sure to shove one of them back into the hole. You only want to be working with one wire at this time. The remaining length of your wires should still be passing through the inside of you tube and exiting out the tube end towards where your battery will be.
Then cut that one single wire that you partially pulled out of the switch hole and strip both ends. Expose a long length of copper wire, about 1 inch.
You are only going to connect to one set of outside terminals with one of the exposed copper wire and connect one set of center terminals with the other exposed copper end. Send the wire through the both holes in the switch terminals and twist them tightly as shown.
Arranging the wires on opposite sides helps keep it from shorting.
Test the circuit by connecting the exposed ends of the wire to the proper battery terminal and slide the switch lever a few times.
You have a choice again here. You can leave it connected like this and wrap it in electrical tape to keep the connection and prevent shorts. You might even try covering the wire and terminals with hot glue. Or you can solder the wires to the terminals for a more permanent connection and then wrap it with electrical tape.
When your switch connection is complete you can push the wires back into the tubing and seat the switch.
Then use electrical tape around the flaps to keep the switch in place.
This might also be a good time to cut off the long slide lever.
Wear safety glasses. That thing shoots clear across the room at high speed when its clipped off!
Step Eleven: Install the Coupling:
Remove the string from the wire. Pass the wires that extend from the switch through the coupling.
If you had modified one side of your coupling you would make sure that side is pointing out of the tube.
Press the unmodified end of the coupling into the tube near the switch. This is probably going to be hard to do. To make it easier you should heat up that part of the white tube with a hair dryer or heat gun. The more you heat the tube the easier it will be to push teh coupling in.
If you still have trouble pushing the coupling all the way you can try pressing it up against a hard flat surface like the floor. BUT BEFORE YOU DO THAT be sure to tuck in the wires first, otherwise you can accidentally cut them off.
So after you tuck the wires, heat the white tube again and push it against the floor.
Step Twelve: Attach Battery:
Cut the negative wire about 2 inches from the connector
Strip that end and wrap it around the negative lead of the battery.
Then wrap the lead of the battery around the plastic part of the wire like you might have done with the LED legs.
I recommend you leave it connected like this, so that it is easier to replace. If you solder it in place you will have a harder time to replace the battery. To keep the battery from extending too far you might want to bend the battery leg again as shown
Then do the same with the other end of the battery.
NOTE: You will want to wrap this end with electrical tape, just to make sure it doesn’t accidentally touch the LED in the tube.
Added: Now that the wire is secure to the switch and you have attached the battery you can remove that tape from the other end of the tube that you applied in STEP 9. Then cut the excess wire and allow it to fall back into the tube. You will need this space in the tube to fit the battery.
Step Thirteen: Close the hoop:
Slide the battery into the open end of the tube and push the tube onto the connector. Snip off any excess plastic on the connector if you have not already
Push the two ends of the tube over the connector and get them as close as you can. Use electric tape to keep the hoop securely closed.
Now turn off the lights and start hooping!
You are not really finished, are you? There is always more you can do with a DIY project. You can mod this ProdMod, in fact it is strongly encouraged.
Add gaffers tape to increase the grip.
Use sandpaper on the inner diameter to improve the grip.
Use some colorful electric tape to add some style.
Upgrades to enhance your LED hoop
- AA Module - power your hoop with only one AA battery, alkaline or rechargeable. Swap it out for a fresh battery as needed. Great for hooping off the grid, no need to hunt down a power outlet with a few AA’s in your pocket.
- Silence your hoop – simply wrap the LED wire with thin 3/16″ thick bubble wrap before sliding it into you tube. This also helps diffuse the light a bit. You might even try layers of saran wrap.
Make a request for a new upgrade – contact
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