Developing the Tinkerlight: Assembly and distribution

The Tinkerlight is now available. A limited number of LED module hardware kits are for sale on ebay and the 3D printable lamp files are on Thingiverse. The full product page, with links to the hardware kit and designs,  is here.

Having previously covered the development of the LED module and the lamp designs, this post will touch on the assembly of the components and the method of distribution.

The PCBs were designed in Fritizing and manufactured by PCBWay. Although I knew this project would be hand assembled, I wanted to approximate a manufacturing process as closely as possible. As a result, only surface mount components were used on the board. These were added with the aid of a solder paste stencil cut from overhead transparency plastic on a Cricut machine. The boards were finished in a small PCB oven, although a significant number needed touching up with a hot air rework gun. The USB jack proved troublesome to position correctly with its very small wires. I had planned to include the heat sink in this stencil and heat process but the oven I used was not able to overcome the thermal mass of the sink and reflow the solder fully. In the end I used thermal paste to manually glue down each one. The LED was glued and then hand soldered on the other side.

Each module was tested for polarity and continuity before installation of the LED and tested again afterwards with a USB cable to make sure it fit and lit up properly.

Kitting began with finding very small bags for the screws and filling them. I included a couple extra screws in each bag since they are so small and easy to lose.

Lots of small parts to lose while bagging.
Lots of small parts to lose while bagging.


Once the lamp designs were finalized and tested, it was time to assemble the final kits. Since I have had very good luck with selling my prototyping boards on Ebay and very little success with them on Tindie, I decided to make the LED module kits available on Ebay, even though the selling costs are higher than on Tindie. The 3D printing files I have uploaded to Thingiverse in the past have been frequently downloaded so that was the repository that made the most sense for the lamp files associated with this project. In fact I am assuming that Thingiverse will be the primary place where people will discover this project and then they will purchase the LED modules from Ebay to go with their prints, and perhaps read about the project on this site.

Final kitting. Turns out that dogs are not good at this task.
Final kitting. Turns out that dogs are not good at this task.


I have 50 sets of LED modules up for sale and we will see how it goes…..

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