Instructables

A Better Altoids Smalls LED Flashlight

Picture of A Better Altoids Smalls LED Flashlight
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I really love making projects out of Altoids.  Especially the new Altoids Smalls tins.  They're so small and so very very cute.

I've seen a couple of Instructables on how to turn these small tins into flashlights, but I think that we can do a better job.  Both in appearance and craftsmanship.

This little guide will show you how to make a flashlight out of an Altoids Smalls tin in a way thats both easy to do, and has a classy result.

Time: 20-30
Price: Less than $4
Mints eaten: 14

This a great project for beginners or kids.

If for some reason you'd like to buy one of these tins I just happen to have them for sale on my gadget site, BrownDogGadgets.com.  Or, if you prefer, my Etsy.com account.  I also have kits available if you want to make one of your own.
 
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Step 1: What you need

Picture of What you need
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Hardware
Soldering Iron
Drill with 9/11 inch bit
Wire Cutter

Parts
Altoids Smalls tin  ($1-1.50)
Electrical Tape
Wire (any type will do, I used magnet wire because I had some)
Coin Battery Holder ($.75)
Coin Battery (10 pack for $3)
Two 3mm White LEDs (100 for $8 off ebay)
Two 3mm LED holders (30 for $2 off ebay)
Two resisters of value less than 100 ohms (100 for $2 off ebay)
One Submini Momentary Pushbutton switch... or toggle! (2 for $2.50 at Radio Shack)

The only thing I didn't have at my "shop" were the pushbutton switches.  I had to bite the bullet and buy them from Radio Shack.  They're the "submini" type, which means very small.

Everything else I had bought in bulk, so the total cost of the parts used was quite small.  Buy a bunch of LEDs and LED holders off ebay.  They'll cost you a little bit and last for many a project.

Step 2: Minty Fresh Breath

Picture of Minty Fresh Breath
If you have a tin, awesome.  If not, buy one.

Or...

If you're giving this as a gift (great idea) you can put the mints in a bag to give along with the flashlight.
Josh19831 year ago
This is a great project. Where do you find the push buttons in bulk? I've been able to find all the other parts for decent prices except for the buttons, the best I've found is a two pack.
Yeah, but they're not panel mount. Which makes mounting super duper easy on the outside of the tin.

Though a very small toggle switch on the side would be cool.
Schmidty161 year ago
couldnt you fit 2 AAA bateries in that or even 1
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  Schmidty161 year ago
No, 2 AAAs won't fit.

Also, one isn't enough. You need 3V for white LEDs (red is 2.6 even).

Joshua
dude i canfit it in my tin like urs i think i can it may be a tight fit but i think it would work
guillebd2 years ago
I've got a question, it may seem stupid but it will clear my head out of doubts. If you are only using one 3v coin battery, then the led's shoul be of 1.5 v each? thanks
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  guillebd1 year ago
It's in Parallel, so they're each getting 3V.
ericb12 years ago
Hmm, not sure what I did wrong. I used 100k-Ohm resistors (1/2watt) and CR2032 bateries, and 5mm white LED's.

Any reason why this set-up wouldn't work?
schumi23 ericb12 years ago
or the fact you used 100kohm maybe?
Im just guessing, but try replacing the 100 000ohm resistor, with a 100 ohm resistor (Or one in that range)
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  schumi231 year ago
Yeah.... there is a massive difference between using a 100,000 ohm and a 100 ohm.
Sorry for a newbie question. Are these 1/4 watt resistors? I'm looking at 100 75 ohm 1/4 watt 1% metal film resistors for $2.55. This will work? Thanks!
That should work, though you do not need to buy resistors that are that expensive (5% ones would be fine.) (I will give a more complete explanation tomorrow, just got back from camping :) )
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  ericb12 years ago
LEDs backward. Bad battery. Melted switch.
shootfilm2 years ago
I love this! How advanced is the soldering involved? I've got a soldering iron, but haven't really done much with it besides experiment a bit and burn the heck out of my fingers.
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  shootfilm2 years ago
It's simple.

The only thing you have to watch out for is melting the button. Just be quick and use a small amount of solder.
Electrical tape is all and good but You can buy spray on Plasti-Dip that leaves a much nicer finish. Just do three light coats. (do multiple tins at a time. even if you dont have a current use for them.)

I say use the spray on because I find it keeps better than the cans that you dip tools in or use a brush with. So unless you plan on using a lot I'd go with the spray on. (plus I think it leaves a nicer finish if your using a sponge brush)
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  TheGeekFather2 years ago
Goodness that does sound a whole lot nicer. That is a wonderful idea.

I just use tape because I had it handy and it takes less time, but the Plasti-Dip would look a whole lot more professional.
By the way that wasn't a slam on your ible. I just see so many people using electrical tape I thought I would throw it out there. A lot of people I talk to didn't even know what plasti-dip was or that it comes in spray form too.

This is a general FYI for the readers. Plasti-dip is sold in most hardware stores and is used for a lot of stuff. It's flexible, insulates, durable, and has a good grip. A lot of uses but it's mainly known for dipping the handles of your tools if the old grip has worn off. I've used it to isolate wires instead of electrical tape or shrink tube. Coat a pistol grip, on the bottom of cool tiles to turn them into coasters and on the inside of metal tins if I'm using electrical components.
Were would one find Plasti-dip?
McMaster-Carr sells it: 9560T4
sorry been working. Don't mean to take so long in responding most the time. Anyways on to your question. I usually get it from Ace Hardware. I've seen it at the major home improvement stores as well.
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  TheGeekFather2 years ago
I didn't take it as a slam, I think it's a great idea. I'm planning on picking some up next weekend.
tyler3030472 years ago
Great ible man. I'm goin out to buy these hopefully on Saturday.
ryanmercer2 years ago
I found a 15/64 to be the perfect size for the grommets you sell on your site in the kit.
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  ryanmercer2 years ago
Good to know.

(How I do wish we lived in a metric world....)
ryanmercer2 years ago
I used a 1/4 for this hole for the button in your kit on the website.
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