Introduction: Fun Wih Push Lights

Picture of Fun Wih Push Lights

We have all used something like these battery operated stick-up lights for closets and dark places. And we forget about them. Note: You should check all of your Battery things and devices at least once a year. When Batteries Leak they can damage everything and rust metal contacts. Most of the older stick-up lights use Light Bulbs not LEDs. This is a good thing. Why? You can do more with more voltage. Four AA batteries equal SIX volts. That will run electronics like the 555 timers and Microprocessors (like the Basic Stamps and Arduinos) and that makes much more fun projects.

Get your light and open it up. Clean battery contacts and any places where wires connect. I cleaned off all of the old wires and I had to clean all of the contacts with a wire brush before I could solder to them. A Dremel works great for this.
Modify the basic wiring of your light to fit you plans.

Step 1: Old Light

Picture of Old Light

Find where to tap into the voltages you need. See my wiring diagram. The RGB LEDs use 25 to 60 mA each so three will give you about an evening of fun. The work LEDs use about 200 mA so they won’t last too long, but that is OK. The brighter the LED the more current they use. If you need more power you may need a wall adapter.

Some Professional LEDs have a resister or a circuit in them that controls the current and voltage for that LED. They do not light up until they reach their minimum operating voltage. These LEDs can usually run up to 9 or 12 volts, but test them first. My work light LEDs work perfectly at 6 volts and that is all I needed. I did completely rebuild my light and re-do all of the wiring. My work LEDs were not bright enough through the dome so I moved them to the rim.

Step 2: Put It Together

Picture of Put It Together

To use the RGB LEDs on higher voltage use a current limiting resistor on the positive lead of each LED. Use about 22 Ohms for six volts and about 33 Ohms for 9 & 12 volts. Stay within the recommended current. They are a device not an Led.

The placement of the LEDs is up to you. My layout looks beautiful and lights up a corner. The work lights work OK too. The hole for the RGB LEDs is 7/32 and that worked for my work lights too. By making your holes loose you can aim your LEDs in different directions for any look that you like. Hot melt glue works perfectly for this.

Hot glue does not stick to most LEDs because they are made of Polycarbonate Plastic. This a very smooth plastic with a high melt point. Glue your LEDs from behind getting the glue into the leads and the wires. You can spot glue your LEDs in while you adjust position and aim. Test everything.

Make a plan and stick to it. Then test everything. Research other ideas. Install additional switches as needed for your plans. I have one switch to change from RGB to the work lights. My switch changes who gets the Ground. The RGB LEDs are 4.5 volts Only and my work LEDS work fine at 6 volts with no resistor. Wire it up and enjoy it.

Step 3: My Light

Picture of My Light

For holes that just let the LED poke through a Dremel diamond shaped metal cutter works very well. You can just make little holes for the LED leads and other wires and make any design that you want to. Keep playing with your plans until it makes you happy. Review it. Test the things you can test. You can light up anything including you. Have fun with LEDs.

For holes that just let the LED poke through a Dremel diamond shaped metal cutter works very well. You can just make little holes for the LED leads and other wires and make any design that you want to. Keep playing with your plans until it makes you happy. Review it. Test the things you can test. You can light up anything including you. Have fun with LEDs.

Step 4: The Reflector

Picture of The Reflector

Tin Foil
Clear 2 inch wide packing tape

A hole guide for your LEDs and a parts layout. After I drilled my holes I flipped my light over and I traced through my holes onto a piece of paper. Measuring things always comes up with too many errors. I put things together and I mark where I need to do something. Sharpies come off with alcohol.

Paper Punch (single)
This is for Round reflectors.
Heavy Scissors.

Cut the tin foil into a square about an inch bigger than the dome of your light.
With the shiny side down layer 3 to 10 layers of the packing tape evenly onto the foil. You need to keep the tape even, but not neat around the edges. You’ll cut it to size later.
Peel the tape and foil off of the work bench and flip it over. You can trim off the excess tape around the edges.
Place the foil shiny side up on a hard surface like glass.
Burnish the tin Foil with a smooth hard metal or plastic tool like the back of a spoon or something until its shiny. Be gentle or you will tear the foil. It helps to have the tape on even, but you can play with things to make it look any way that you want it to look.

Find the center of your dome by placing it upside down on a level surface and place a small round bead, ball bearing or something so it rolls to the center. Using a non-permeate marker put a dot where the ball is big enough to see through your dome. Hold your dome right side towards you facing some bright light. Using the same marker make a dot over the center dot on the outside of your doom. Make sure you can clean the marker off with alcohol or something.

Comments

cdslashetc (author)2012-06-25

As you use more resistance, will the light stay on longer until the batteries need to be replaced? I think so, but there will also be a point where the voltage becomes too low to drive the LED, I suppose it depends what the voltage on the battery looks like as it discharges. I've noticed that some LED flashlights are designed to reduce the brightness when the battery gets to about 20%. I've also been reading about a type of circuit called a Joule Thief that increases the voltage so the LEDs stay lit longer than they would without it. It would be interesting if there were a way to record how long the light stays on in normal usage over time, but it would have to use as little power as possible.

zazenergy (author)2011-10-06

oh very cool! I have seen those lights around but never thought about hacking them. i'm inspired!

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Bio: I have always been a geek and I see things differently than most people. I am healthy too and I love biology. Programming has always ... More »
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