Introduction: Super Awesome Altoids MINI Flashlight

Picture of Super Awesome Altoids MINI Flashlight

Don't you just hate it when the power goes out, and you have to lug that huge flashlight around your house. No worries my friends, you can make a flashlight that fits right in your pocket!

Lets get started!

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
Here is what you will need:

Step 2: Insulate the Tin

Picture of Insulate the Tin

This step is extremely important. If any parts of your project comes in contact with the metal tin, the electrical aspect of the project will short out.

Use some electrical tape to insulate your tin. Just tape some on the bottom, sides, and wherever you feel that the components may be vulnerable to the metal tin.

Step 3: Drill Your Top Hole

Picture of Drill Your Top Hole

This hole is for your switch. On your tin, you can choose either side you want your switch to be on. I drilled my hole in the little circular groove that has a picture of the mint in it. I felt that it conformed to the finger well.

Or you can choose the other side.

Take your Dremel or hole cutting tool, and carefully make a hole. With this preliminary hole, take your switch and keep checking to see if it fits. You do not want to make it too big. So take your time, there is no rush.

If you do not own a Dremel, you can use a pocket knife, or a tool to poke a hole. THe spin it around to grind out the hole. But make sure you test to make sure you do not make the hole too big.

Step 4: The Wiring

Picture of The Wiring
This is a tricky step because you are working in such a small area, so use your components wisely.

Start out by attaching two small pieces of hookup wire to the leads on the switch. One piece of wire, for each lead on the switch. Don't make them too long because it will just cause more trouble when you try to fit make everything fit. (Refer to the second picture to estimate the length of the wire to use)

Next, get your masking tape, a piece of hookup wire, and your 3V coin battery. Take the piece of hookup wire, and tape it to the (-) side of the coin battery. Now, with one of the pieces of hookup wire attached to the switch, take that hookup wire and attach it to the (+) side of the coin battery.

So, right now you should have you switch in place, one of the leads of the switch attached to the positive side of the coin battery, while the other is currently not connected to anything, yet. Your coin battery should have one lead attached to the (+) side, and one to the (-) side. All set? Ok, now lets get the LED.

With your LED, you want the longer lead to attach to the (+) hookup wire coming from the coin battery. The shorter lead of the LED is the (-) lead, so you want this to be soldered or attached to the currently unattached hookup wire of the switch.

You certainly can use a resistor, but because it is not much voltage, it does not do too much harm. plus, it would make it harder to fit in the tin in the long run.

Ok, this may be a little confusing, so I will sum it up.
  • Your switch has two leads
  • Have two pieces of hookup wire from those leads
  • One of the wires goes to the negative side of the coin battery
  • The other, goes to the negative lead on the LED
  • The longer lead of the LED has a piece of hookup wire attached to it and the (+) side of the coin battery.

Test it out: Press the switch to see if it lights up. If not, make sure all of your solder connections are attached, make sure no leads are touching each other, and make sure your battery still works.

Step 5: Cut Hole for LED

Picture of Cut Hole for LED

Take your Dremel tool again and begin drilling a hole for your LED. Take your time, because if you cut it too big, the LED rattles around. I cut a hole too big on my first tin and I had to do it completely over.

Gradually increase the hole in size, and take breaks in between an stick the LED in the hole to see if it fits or not. Continue doing it until the LED fits firmly in the hole.

I wrapped a piece of electrical tape around my two LED leads, to keep them from coming in contact with the metal tin.

Step 6: Packing It In

Picture of Packing It In

As you pack everything in, continue hitting your switch to make sure that the LED still works. Keep in mind that you can take the cover off, and then snap it back on, instead of sliding it.

This makes it easier to pack everything in. You can start by sliding the LED in the hole, and then snapping the top cover on to the bottom section.

You may have a better way, but this is the way that I have used.

Step 7: Where Can I Use This?

Picture of Where Can I Use This?

Well, it fits right in your pocket, so...anywhere!

If your power goes out and you need to fiddle with your circuit breaker, grab this and light it up!

Going out on Halloween, but don't feel like lugging a huge flashlight around? Take this mini flashlight!

It is so easy to fit in any pocket, drawer, backpack, etc...

Below are just a few pictures of how it lights up what you are shining it at.


If you make either of the holes too big, use plumbing tape. The ones used to cover your pipe threads prior to fitting. It's soft type of PVC, very pliable and hence easier to wrap around a mini switch or LED

nicktheskier (author)2013-04-23

How long does this last?

BrownDogGadgets (author)2011-05-11

Except you can no longer get this type of tin...

If you want to do an Altoids smalls you'll have to follow these directions.

A Better Altoids Smalls Flashlight

raykholo (author)2008-11-30

i just bought a bunch of stuff from the site i saw it came up in a couple of instructables and the prices are great -- radio shack is too expensive and cool idea with everything...

kroq-gar78 (author)raykholo2009-06-18

yup. electronic goldmine a s amazing prices in bulk (and sometimes individually). radioshack's items are waaay to expensive. i guess that's what you pay for convenience....

raykholo (author)kroq-gar782009-06-21

i cant believe im actually saying this but radioshack does have some good stuff. like not components but tools. And if my soldering iron breaks or somethin like that... its easier to have bought it from radioshack than online in some cases (again convenience). i also found out that they have this wire that i want to use for making vias in pcbs, and no other place had it, so they are ok i guess... Im also getting started with pcbs right now (as u might have just figured out :) ), so allelectronics and digikey look like they will be coming into the picture... they look pretty good so far. but yeah if all you do is like the more simple electronics stuff (me in the past) then goldmine definitely rules.

kroq-gar78 (author)raykholo2009-06-21

yup! goldmine rules for simple stuff!!!! radioshack's things are way too expensive (components at least). their prices or tools and tools themselves aren't bad though

raykholo (author)kroq-gar782009-06-21

yeah that and that radioshack has virtually no variety or specialty stuff. Its all generic, basic, and expensive. some people look at that as a good thing, dont ask me how

awang8 (author)2008-12-18

If you make the LED hole too big, glue it in place with some (very) think epoxy.

jimbo333 (author)awang82009-05-22

hot glue could work good too.

poop11346 (author)2009-03-24

What is hookup wire... can i use pos and neg from a usb cord?

Brennn10 (author)poop113462009-03-24

You can use the positive and negative USB cord, but you match up the negative end of the cord with the negative side of the battery. And vice versa with the positive side.

poop11346 (author)Brennn102009-04-05

can I use speaker wire cuz it's easier than cutting USB cablz

poop11346 (author)Brennn102009-03-24

also do u have to solder.. or is there another way.. i can solder if there is no other .way .....thank u

Brennn10 (author)poop113462009-03-24

Well you can attach the wires to the battery with tape or hot glue. Solder doesn't work the best on batteries. And on the LED and switch, you can wrap the wires around the leads instead of using solder.

poop11346 (author)Brennn102009-03-24


Brennn10 (author)poop113462009-03-24

If you have any other questions let me know. I would be glad to assist.

Clayton H. (author)2008-12-01

or you can replace the blue light with a red light to "preserve your night vision"

waverider894 (author)2008-10-08

I might combine this instructable with one of the survival tin instructables

Brennn10 (author)waverider8942008-10-08

Sounds like a great idea!

TheMoonMaster (author)2008-07-13

w00t! I can finally make this because a sugar-free store just opened in town and the have smalls and the gum too. Yay!

Red49 (author)2008-06-03

where did u get the pushbutton switch that u used can u give me a link to the website that u got it from. I bought 1 and it was to big for the altoids smalls tin so im making it with a reg altoids tin

puffyfluff (author)Red492008-07-10

You can get them at radioshack, but you can also get them in hundred packs off eBay quite cheap.

Red49 (author)puffyfluff2008-07-11

could u give me a link

puffyfluff (author)Red492008-07-11

They are called SMT or tactile switches.

This is for some 6mm by 6mm, which might be too big.

These are smaller and better documented, but a bit harder to obtain. Here's the datasheet.

If these don't work, try a Google search.

Red49 (author)puffyfluff2008-07-12


puffyfluff (author)Red492008-07-12

You're welcome.

MeisNubby (author)2008-06-17

You know what would be kind of cool, is if you did as Elflord said for a laser!! xD Use the switch you have for the LED. I know laser diodes are harder to come by, and harder to wire.. and need more voltage... But the guy who created computers (PCs I mean ** xD) did it, and they all thought he was crazy. Just an idea.

MeisNubby (author)MeisNubby2008-06-17

Oh my bad, nice Instructable too. I'm new to all this so.. cut me about 4 inches slack.. Joined yesterday..

MeisNubby (author)MeisNubby2008-06-17

OH and favorited my bad.. Sorry XD

Brennn10 (author)MeisNubby2008-06-17

Haha thanks! Your idea is awesome!

MeisNubby (author)Brennn102008-06-17

I try. Mmm. I'm trying this sorta... BUT in a flashdrive. Thumbdrive. The case.. I'll post pictures and maybe even an Instructable... Ooooo {*Thinks* "EVERYONE CLAP"} Mmm. Also a funny idea is put Mini 2mm LEDs (only require .5 voltage into paintballs.. Only hard thing would be actually PUTTING them in.. You could just tape them on one side and play in the dark. It'd be like "OH CRAP" Pitch black. Except for a blue LED. Might hurt, but that's what masks are for.

MeisNubby (author)MeisNubby2008-06-17

Oh... Just get a DVD Burner {16x} like KipKay, then an AixiZ module and wire em together. Then just drill a hole the size of the diode into the Altoids tin, and just tape down the module.. Then again, the tin probably isn't big enough. Oh and I'm wrong, a Commercial Laser Pointer uses about 4.5 volts.

XaiofDren (author)2008-06-16

This is awesome; it's simple to understand. You got favorited. :D

Brennn10 (author)XaiofDren2008-06-17


grundisimo (author)2008-06-10

I finally have a use for that gosh dang altoids tin on my dresser

Red49 (author)2008-06-02


Brennn10 (author)Red492008-06-02

Great! Thanks! Tell me how it goes!

Red49 (author)Brennn102008-06-03

where did u get the pushbutton switch that u used can u give me a link to the website that u got it from. I bought 1 and it was to big for the altoids smalls tin so im making it with a reg altoids tin

Brennn10 (author)Red492008-06-03

I bought the switch at Radioshack, and I have yet to find an online seller selling the same switch.

comodore (author)2008-05-28

Just wanted to tell you that I added your great,original Instructable to my MYTHBUSTERS group.

Brennn10 (author)comodore2008-05-28

Thanks dude!

struckbyanarrow (author)2008-04-18

Awsome! i gotta finish my altoids cinnamon smalls! because this is the best!

GorillazMiko (author)2008-04-14

I got this when I was in Yosemite. I will eat all the mints. Then make this. :-)

comodore (author)2008-04-03

COOL!!! Great Instructable!!! Well done!
I was making something similar when I saw this.
You got my vote!

(rating +1)

PS: Thanks for featuring my Instructable,IR Detector.

seuden (author)2008-04-02

Loving the work, very well done. /me clicks on Vote Here There, that should help. :)

knex gunman (author)2008-03-26

before I read this I already made one but was to lazy to post it! I guess we think a like!

bosswana (author)2008-03-25

Hey Bit late, but you've got my vote. Loving it

Brennn10 (author)bosswana2008-03-25

Hey bosswana, thanks a ton. Its awesome to have your support.

About This Instructable




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