Sunnan Synth (IKEA Solar Lamp Hack)


This project was inspired by Jan van Nuenen who created a web page (including youtube video) about a noise maker / synth he hacked from an IKEA Lamp. IKEA sells the SUNNAN Lamp for about $20, which is a good price for the quality of the product. The solar cell / battery pack is fairly water resistant and I’ve found that the batteries last as long as advertised. From IKEA’s product page:

SUNNAN lamps transform sunlight into electricity. SUNNAN doesn’t need to be plugged-in to provide light. Charge the panel for 9-12 hours in direct sunlight outdoors to get three hours of full lamplight that you can use anywhere indoors.”


Just unscrew the weights and use them in another project, or place them in your recycle bin!

The lamp has a removable solar cell / battery pack that pops out of the center of the lamp. It’s nice because you can find a nice sunny spot in which to place the cell outside, and you don’t have to worry if it’s forgotten out there and it starts to rain. If you take the bottom cover off, you will find that there are two metal weights used to help keep the lamp upright, especially when the solar cell / battery pack has been removed. Since this project needs to use the space inside the lamp to put some extra components (potentiometers, microchip, photocells), these handy weights are going to have to come out.

I didn’t have any small panel-mount potentiometers on hand, so I decided to use some that are meant to be soldered directly to a circuit board. Since space inside the case is tight, I decided to put the body of the potentiometer on the outside and put the solder legs through little holes drilled in the case.Sunnan closeup once the legs were put through the holes, I bent them inward. I soldered colorful wire to the potentiometers and ran them inside the case, each with their own drilled hole.

Jan’s website shows some great build photos that were taken when he was trying to cram everything into the tiny enclosure. Kudos to him for fitting the potentiometers and everything else inside the enclosure, that looked like a difficult job!


Jan provided a zany hand-drawn schematic on his web page, so I decided to make it more understandable


One thing I did differently in my Sunnan Synth build: I didn’t add the 10k potentiometer to control volume on the audio output. My reasoning was that there were already two other ways to control the synth’s volume: by dimming the lamp’s LED and by passing a hand over the photocell that controls volume.


neck bent up_artsySunnan-Synth-Curves With light on_artsy neck bent down_artsyHack ikea logo