Apollo Moon Lamp

Old Apollo Lander Model Rebuild to a Lamp.

creator: x14km2d | build: 2021-10-24 | update: 2021-12-26


I love everything that has to do with space travel and if I hadn’t dropped out of my studies, I could still apply to be an astronaut in Europe. But maybe space travel will become so commercial in the next 20 years that I can afford it. I would get on a rocket right away. Anyway. In 2018 I had bought a model to assemble from the Apollo 11
moon lander. It was the Revell 50th anniversary moon landing/Apollo 11 lunar module eagle and the worst produced model I have ever tried. The parts were all messy and the paints cheap. I had tried four different gold alternatives, none of which I liked. Most of the colors became dull and unattractive. The base I had built was way too big because I had actually built something else for the diorama. I was really very unhappy with this project and this miserable pile of shame was always sitting in the last corner of my closet, slowly but surely gathering the dust of oblivion.

At some point, I was browsing Thingiverse for models that I could print on my new 3D printer. I came across a lamp with a moon and a cat. Immediately I had to think of my lander and I downloaded the files. Unfortunately, I found that slicing the file alone took a long time and at this point I could already be sure that it would take too long to print. I then looked around in a large online store and found a good alternative. As long as the lamp was on the way with the mail, I could already prepare the lander. For example, I had to separate the lander from this incredibly ugly base without breaking the model.

Paint Job

There are many spray can Chrome colors and I have tested most of them all. With this model I wanted to have the shiny, so I chose Chrome Coversall and repainted the whole model once completely.


Since I do not have an Amazon Prime account, I had to wait a few days until the package arrived in the mail. The delivery had no special incidents. First I had tested the lamp extensively before I even work with the model. It happened to me once in my life that I worked several hours with a non-functioning electrical component and then later, because it was broken, I was annoyed that I could not continue building. Therefore. Always test everything first to see if the electronic components are all working.

My idea was to just put the lamp on the Apollo 11 lander and then use it as a lamp stand. Since there was also a remote control with the moon lamp, I could then put it somewhere in the corner and it would look very good there. But before that I had to build a component and print it out in my 3D printer, because I had too much space between the moon and the lander. It only takes a few minutes and I am so glad I bought a 3D printer. A year ago I would have had to find another solution to the problem and that would have involved a lot of work again. Now I can just have something printed out and concentrate on the creative part of the project. Machines are not there to take work away from us, but to give us more time for creativity.

I then had to paint the spacer once again with the chrome color and let it dry. Fortunately, this did not take very long and I could test my idea on my desk. It looks so good and I really like the result of the project. I finally turned a shame project into something beautiful and sometimes the simplest ideas can be so wonderful. It’s time to assign the new lamp a new place and make some glamour shots.


Version Two

I had already thought when I first rebuilt the lamp that it would not be so easy, but I always take the path of least resistance first. So I save myself, sometimes, an over engineering. This time, unfortunately, it did not work out. The idea with the printed spacer did not work well, because it broke off again at a slight movement. The superglue did not hold so well and I wanted to avoid using hot glue.

Then the lamp reacted too easily to vibrations. Whenever I bumped my desk very lightly with my leg or foot, the lamp changed color. It looks nice, but it bothered me a lot. The remote also interacted with the other remote controlled lights in my room. When I turned off my big main light, the moon lamp changed to blue and so on.

Then there were I want to have that points. For example, I find it important that the moon lamp has an on and off switch. There I am spoiled by previous everyday technology and while I’m at it, the lamp also needs a dimmer, so that I can leave it on overnight, but still sleep. These are some points that I had to implement and so I sat down to a second version of the moon lamp.


The first problem I encountered was that the lid of the moon lamp was stuck. I had unscrewed the screws and then wanted to lift off the lid, but that did not work. In the back light I could still see very light adhesive residue. I hate that when manufacturers of cheap electrical engineering glue something. That happens super often, e.g. with housings. I worked on the glued edges with a modeling knife until I could easily lever out the lid with a screwdriver.

The electronics in the lamp consists of a circuit board, a battery and two sensors. This silver button, which looks like a very simple speaker, is a motion sensor that reacts to vibrations. You have to touch it or move it inside the lamp and then the circuit board changes the lamp to another mode or color. The black small box on the top of the board is an IR sensor which is controlled by an infrared remote control. These are available in almost all cheap electronics sets and I have some remote controls lying here to manage electronics in my room without having to leave my desk. But since the moon lamp is supposed to stand on my desk, I don’t need all the extra functions. So I can replace the whole board with a much simpler model, which I create myself.

In order to work better with the lid, I had to modify it a lot. I first needed a larger hole so I could run thicker cables. I wanted to run my board via USB with a power plug and also do without the battery. A battery is good, which makes the lamp mobile, but I could do without that. I used a special drill to enlarge the hole by hand. Since I didn’t need the two openings for the on/off switch and USB anymore, I first glued them with a piece of foil, so I closed them and then smeared them with green stuff. I let that dry overnight, and sprayed over it with primer and white paint, so you can’t see the modification anymore. I glued the 3D printed spacer into the newly drilled hole with super glue, where it sat very tight this time without wobbling.

For the cable I went to the dollar store and bought a two meter cable for $2. We only need the black (ground) and the red (VCC) cable. Since we don’t want to transfer any data we can cut the green and white cable.


I will describe the circuit in more detail in another place2. It is a very simple circuit consisting of a potentiometer, a resistor and six LEDs. To test the circuit, I have built it on a breadboard.

First I thought about etching the board, but then I didn’t feel like going to the basement to work with the chemicals. I used a very simple method called Washington design3 to create this board. To do this, I cut a copper-coated board for prototypes and carved several lines with a sharp tool, which are then the individual contact areas for the components and wires. It’s not pretty, but it’s durable until it’s replaced with something better build. There is one drawback, because you use a lot of solder to solder the components.

After testing the brightness of the board, I could go to the next steps. Cutting the openings for the potentiometer and the on/off switch in the Apollo lander case. I also had to spend almost three hours cutting out the intervening layers of the model’s interior with a modeling knife, or at least widening them enough so that I could insert the components. The on/off switch is easy to insert from the outside and then pull the cables through the individual openings, but the potentiometer had to be soldered to the cables beforehand and could only be inserted from the inside out. For this you have to make a soldering plan beforehand and go through everything theoretically at least 20 times before you start working. I often even wait a day, because I usually get a better idea at night how I can implement it. It is super easy to solder something together, but to desolder something again is cancer.

At this point you can see the difference between a really cheap component and an expensive plastic. To know where to drill the holes for the board I wanted to mark them with a red marker and then press them on the bottom side of my board. This is a super simple technique if you want to work fast and messy. Kappa. Unfortunately, the screw channels were processed so cheaply that they all(!) broke off at the same time. I have never experienced anything like this. I have not pressed so hard that this should happen. Even the components of my 3D prints are more stable than that. I will take care of that problem again at a later time. I then sanded down the pins with a nail file and simply glued the PCB on at the very end with superglue.

Actually, I had planned for the wiring an hour and for the potentiometer at least four hours, but was after almost 20 minutes with the whole wiring ready. This was also largely due to the soldering plan, which I followed in NASA manner exactly 1:1 to avoid any errors.

For the potentiometer I chose a knob that looks like the sixties, so that this past to the model. In retrospect, I would have preferred to take another on / off switch, which fits better in terms of design, but I also satisfied with the result. Another switch I would have had to order first and that would have taken me too long again.

In the last step I only had to solder the cables to the board and glue the board to the lid. After that I could screw the lid back to the moon lamp with the screws and look at my result.

Version Two Showcase

All in all, I am satisfied with the second version of the moon lamp. The circuit board is of course only a temporary solution and I have to see if I do not rather create a real circuit board. Otherwise, the lamp has everything I wanted and even though I worked on the project for almost a week, I didn’t have any real problems that I had to solve. It all worked out much better than I had planned. The Lape is also not too bright that it belndet me but can also in the middle of the Ncht still illuminate the keyboard of my computer.


  1. Reverse engineered means that I have figured out how the power circuit works. On a very simple level. I ignored all other functions like RGB and light settings and microchip stuff Just the basics.↩︎

  2. I will go into more detail about the schematic in a separate chapter at a later time.↩︎

  3. I read somewhere on the internet years ago that this is called Washington Design because supposedly the guy who invented it was from Washington. Like so much in electrical engineering, this may be folklore, because I couldn’t find any articles or other sources to verify it.↩︎

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