Instructables

Hack-A-Lantern: Recycled Computer Power Supply Flashlight

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Do you have lots of spare computer parts? Do you like to be prepared for emergencies? Are you ready for the zombie apocalypse? Do you get what I mean when I say the word "Junk-Punk"?

If so, then you should build yourself a Recycled Computer Power Supply Lantern!
Using salvaged, repurposed, and reused components, we'll build a 12V/11w electric lantern.

This all started recently when I was talking with a friend at the Milwaukee Makerspace. I was working on a simple wiring project and chatting and the friend showed me a couple of 5ah lead acid batteries he salvaged, which were perfectly good, and he was giving to anybody who wanted one. It's a great size rechargeable battery, and the size and shape reminded me of the "old-fashioned" lanterns that use a 9V dry cell. That, plus a discussion of zombie movies made me wonder - Do I have the skills to not only build a portable light from little more than scrap materials, but also build something better than I could buy?

I took it as a challenge, and proceeded to build the Power Supply Lantern. 
 
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Step 1: Tools & Materials

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To start, let's review the tools and materials for the project.

Nearly all materials for this project were recycled, salvaged, or reused. The project was based on the materials that I had on hand. If you want to build something similar, you might have to buy something. Better yet, why don't you build a project using just the materials YOU have on hand, and see what you come up with!

Materials:
Dead computer power supply
12V landscape lighting bulb
12V rechargeable battery - 5AH or other size that fits inside power supply
Foam or other scrap spacing material
Glue
1/4" crimp-on spade terminals
Zip-Ties
Electric tape or heat-shrink
Battery Charger


You might notice that I didn't list either a switch or any wire in the list of materials. That's because we will re-use the switch, wiring, and power port already in the power supply.

Tools are basic, that no respectable DIY'er would be without, but when it comes down to it, most could all be replaced with a Swiss Army Knife or Leatherman.

Tools:
Phillips Screw Driver
Wire Stripper
Wire Crimper
Side Cutters
Drill and bits
Multimeter (Optional)
elic1 year ago
You left the 220/115v plug and used it to charge the battery. It is a safety problem - someone can plug through it the battery to the 220/115 volt and blow the battery! Please destroy the plug or make it unusual.
Liam.great98 elic9 months ago

Things like that are fine when it’s only the creator using it. If it was going to be mass produced and sold, obviously you’d want to change that.

eyesee1 year ago
good
poofrabbit1 year ago
Hey congratulations on being a finalist in the hack it contest! Good luck to you!
As a precaution, you should be careful when taking apart comp. power supplies! They still have power in them. A guy in my area (KC) was electrocuted from taking apart his power supply. Just a heads up!
Dont touch the Capacitors and you usually get away with it fine :)
sdfgeoff1 year ago
With a big(ish) battery like that, surely you could put a car headlight lamp in. I'm sure that would be bright enough for any possible need.
bennelson (author)  sdfgeoff1 year ago
Sealed-beam car headlamps are commonly 55 watts. The landscape light is 11 watts.
The battery could run a car lamp for 1 hour or the lamp I used for 5 hours. It's more than bright enough for my needs, but yes, a person could use a headlight if they wanted to.
Appropriate idea :) cool .. you saved amount of casing .. and 1suggestion- Plz find out option of charging .. put charging adapter inside the lamp and connect that with the female shocket(which is already along with the case) then you'll need only power cable to plug in and charge .. it's easy and SAFE .. (in your recent design..if by mistake beginners attached power cable like computer .. your battery will blast :( .. )
MoritzB1 year ago
It would be better if you had installed the charger inside the flashlight.
But nevertheless good project.
Great ible ! I love recycle projects like this, there are so many items out there for re-use. This whole project couldbe done using all recycled parts. It is genious in its simplicity. Two thumbs way up!
imperio1 year ago
no one can say that it is not a bright idea!
jim_lewis11 year ago
I have to echo the concern regarding reusing the power inlet.
Connecting what is clearly a mains power input to the battery terminals is VERY DUMB.
Someone, (perhaps even you in a while when you forget how it's wired), will connect this to the mains and the results will be ugly.
Good design is first and foremost inherently safe. This is an accident waiting to happen.
ralenti1 year ago
Why not LED? Much more bang for your battery!
Good idea!
One suggestion:
It has enough space to put the charger in the box!
The charger also does not weigh that much!
Then, to load only necessary to use a standard PC cable.
woofman1 year ago
I must have 5 leftover power supplies lying around waiting for projects just like this. What a great idea!
mickeypop1 year ago
you have enough room to add a small 12v transformer and a few diodes and you could plug it in to recharge the battery.
j1shalack1 year ago
I love the idea. Any computer geek will instantly recognize it. My only suggestion is to twist the "handle" wires so they will be more like a rope...?
Gabse1 year ago
Isn't it very Dangerous whir the normal Power Plug?
Unfortunately instructables is not policed for safety issues, there are some really dumb reuses of mains fittings on here. I should create an instructable of a cut off mains cord to use as a child's toy :p. I'm not the intructables safety police either but when I see things like this I cringe most likely as you did! :) At least one of the terminals used was the earth and hopefully the other was neutral (assuming the plug/socket etc is wired correctly) so inserting a mains cable will either rapidly blow a fuse/trip somewhere or short the battery across the house wiring? I wouldn't want to be the one to find out ;)
kp911 year ago
whenever I need a charger, switching power supply, or the like, I can usually find one at my local Habitat for Humanity store for next to nothing. Everything from 3v to 24v has been there at least once.

good value for you and for the community
chase326151 year ago
I like the steampunk hint to it i think you should go all out and steampunk the whole thing
bennelson (author)  chase326151 year ago
Items that I make from recycled, salvaged, and junk materials tend to have a certain look about them.
I actually have a term for this; it's "Junk-Punk".
Please feel free to use this term and share it with all your friends.
ok thats really cool, alot of my friends are on instructables and ill tell them to follow you. i like your stuff its awesome
bennelson (author)  chase326151 year ago
Thanks Chase!
nsnip1 year ago
This is all kinds of awesome! Did you consider mounting the battery charger inside of the case and using the power supply's cable to charge?
bennelson (author)  nsnip1 year ago
I didn't, just because I already had a "wall-wort"-style charger that is already exactly the right charger for this battery. However, I really LIKE the idea of having an integrated charger, just because it would be so cool just to run the power cord right from the wall into the power supply.

Sometimes a lower light level, is all you need to be able to navigate around a room.
You could use the 115/230 switch to put a resistor, into the circuit, so you  could have a hi/lo setup. 
techno guy1 year ago
that looks pretty cool
agis681 year ago
very creative.
bhvm2 years ago
Nice one. Very cool looking.
I wish your future version uses power LEDs.
barbnelson2 years ago
Looks great! But is it heavy?
bennelson (author)  barbnelson2 years ago
I'd say it's "Hefty".

It's not particularly light, but hangs very nicely from the handle. It has a sense of solidness to it.
bennelson (author)  bennelson2 years ago
Good for bashing zombies....
Schmidty162 years ago
very cool voted for
hertzgamma2 years ago
Great idea!
LEDs would not work better?
bennelson (author)  benderbrasil2 years ago
LEDs are wonderful things, but don't confuse efficiency for practicality or light output.

I already had a 12V bulb just kicking around, and it lights up a large area.

To purchase an LED/LEDs with the same light output, it would have been significantly more expensive, more time spent soldering, etc. etc.

If you already have some high-output LEDs laying about unused, they would be GREAT to use in a similar project.
A possible improvement to his project would be to assemble a rectifier and regulator so it can be charged directly from the wall using an IEC cord.
iPodGuy2 years ago
This is really cool!