Instructables
Picture of Rechargeable LED Work/Camp Light
Here's my first Instructable, A waterproof rechargeable led Light suitable for work or great for camping. It's pretty simple to make with a few materials and parts, most of which i purchased off Ebay. Any kid who picks this up and turns it on instantly becomes Darth vader waving it around like a idiot :)

The Light is made of a Piece of PVC pipe with 5 metres of strip LED's wound around it, inside it contains 11 'mini" C Size rechargeable batteries, a pipe cap seals one end, while at the other the cap contains a waterproof on/off switch, recharging is done by 2 points on the body ..... more will be explained ..... so read on.

Step 1: Gathering The Parts

First off lets look at materials required:

Length of 30mm nominal bore PVC pipe 470mm long is finished length, but buy a metre anyway
A 5metre roll of cool white waterproof LED's - do a ebay search - about $18AU
2 x 30mm PVC end caps
1 x Waterproof switch
11 x 1.2v mini C size rechargeable batteries with TABS - again on ebay - 12pack for around $25AU
about 400mm of clear plastic hose that will fit neat in PVC, i think it's 25mm bore size

plus a few bits of wire, joiners, a couple of 5mm PEEL type pop rivets

beside this you will need some way of recharging the batteries. I use the NiCad charger from my model helicopter.
 
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GHammy1 year ago

I go camping a lot and I love this idea! I've seen the strips of LED's like the type you use in action and can vouch that your torch must be brilliant. I'd love to take it to a campsite, might even add a spike to the bottom of mine so it can be stuck in the ground...

I don’t have a caravan unfortunately but I'd love to be able to make this thing and still be able to charge it whilst I’m out and about in the wilderness. What sort of thing would you use to charge it from a car? I'm an idiot when it comes to anything like this... If you could link me to an eBay item I’d be grateful!

Thanks
G

awright151 year ago
Love it!... Would it be possible to integrate a usb charger?
ricoda (author)  awright151 year ago
Thanks, as usb only put out 5v it wouldn't be a feasible option in my opinion, not saying it's not possible, but if your out in the car/caravan you have 12v already as a supply and if your home then a mains charger would be available anyway. mind you it would be easy to add a usb port to charge phones etc from it :)
Thantalas1 year ago
great project, I really love the idea and consider making two of them for our festivalcamps next year...

but some open ideas/questions about the whole thing:
1.
My problem is, that we are twice a year for 6 days each on festivals without a possibility to charge the batteries, so I would need a batterypack that can be charged easily and can be taken apart into the single batteries.
I'd like to use the normal "household" baby c rechargeables, so I can use them in other devices...my idea would be, that I use 2 pipes...the outer pipe (with a larger bore diameter as told here) for the led-stripe, and the inner pipe as holder for the batteries, with a solid lid at the bottom and a removable lid on the other side so I am able to change the batteries inside...
biggest problem with that would maybe be to ensure that all batteries are always tight together to have the contact between them...

2.
I think of using rgb-stripes to have the possibility to change colour, dim them or maybe have a bit of a "WOW-moment" when enabling colour-change...
would there be a big difference between them (incl controller) and the stripes in this instructable?

3.
I think about installing a removable reflector or shield to have the possibility to change from full light to indirect light (when tucked into the roof-section of the gazebo)

any further ideas/comments/help about these points?
ricoda (author)  Thantalas1 year ago
First off .. i'd like to say thanks to all for the comments, now lets look at your questions.

1.  I was originally thinking of removing the batteries to charge them, but then went with the recharging in place method, just to keep it simple. but i was going to go for just remove the end cap and spill out the batteries like a torch. first you would need to decrease the inside diameter of the tube with smaller pvc or cardboard tubes or something like that while still enabling one wire to reach past. for power supply
To make a fixed contact on each end use 2 large washers that just fit inside the pipe, one with a tapped thread for a small screw the other a clearance hole, place a short (about 30mm) piece of the clear hose the same as what  i use to hold the batteries between the washers, as you tighten the screw the hose will expand and lock into place in the pvc connect the wires to the screws or washers to complete the circuit, maybe use a wingnut under the end cap one to remove it easy. I probably don't explain things clear in writing, so i'll see if i can take some pictures.

2. RGB stripes could be used i guess, if you can gut the controller out of it's case and get it to fit, and the ones i've seen are remote so you could do away with the switch on the end and maybe have the remote receiver out that end, but like i said the main problem is getting the controller inside the tube.

3. I made a removable shield at the end of this instructable, but if you wanted a reflector how about a couple of those spring type broom holders that you just push the broom into to hold it on a wall, mount 2 of them on a bit of the reflector off the back of a old fluro tube holder or something similar and just clip the light into that.

At the moment i'm trying to think of an elegant but simple way of putting a PWM unit inside the light, i've got the unit and it will fit without it's case but it has to be adjustable with a knob on the outside while still trying to keep it waterproof, when i sort it out i'll add it to the instructable.

cheers Dave
Spokehedz1 year ago
First, I would like to say THIS IS AN AWESOME IDEA and the simple implementation is fantastic. To answer some questions in the thread, in one gigantic answer post:

1. Recharging with solar would be an option, but only for the 'dumb' cells you have here because if you use LiPo's you have to be very careful how they are charged. See next answer for more details.

2. Lipo's are sensitive to charging, and require each cell to be charged individually and very carefully. You would have to have three batteries in series, each with a tap on each battery, and then several of those series batteries in parallel to get a 3s2p or 3s3p so you could get reasonable run time out of it. The more packs in parallel the longer the run time. But the charging would be way more complicated...

3. Run time of the light could be extended if you got a LED controller and put it in the circuit. LED's want a constant current, and they work best when driven with PWM to control brightness. Look for "LED PWM" on FleaBay and you can find several of them listed most of the time. For this application, there are several that you could use but there are ones on there that have solar charging and PWM built in so you might want to look at that one first. This would make your light last longer because you could dim it down and it would also send a constant current to the LED's so they don't burn off the excess voltage as heat in the resistors.
ricoda (author)  Spokehedz1 year ago
you seem to know a lot more about driving the led's than me. I did a ebay search and the only one i could find that "may" fit is this one 390346300608 if i take it out of the case, do you think it will be suitable ? i've noticed that 1 or 2 of the leds on the strip are yellow instead of white, this pwm might be a way of preventing led failure
I was thinking more along the lines of 281018904818 which would take care of the charging of the batteries (non-lipo) as well as the PWM of the LED's. It's also without a case, so it should fit without too many issues.
Maybe add a fuse - for safety. GREAT project
kretzlord1 year ago
Pretty sweet project. have you considered making a reflector that could clip on to make it a directional light?
ricoda (author)  kretzlord1 year ago
This was my main reason for making it this way, you can buy heaps of rechargeable lights that are directional, but i wanted something to hang up in the camp site to throw a light everywhere
A removable 180 degree shield would make it truly a "work/camp light." Full 360 degree coverage for camp, and then shielded so you don't blind yourself when working on something.
Very nice! I'm into hanging things. A hook at one end would be useful at times.
ricoda (author)  Thinkenstein1 year ago
yeah i've been thinking about a hook, and my plan is to just use a large press stud on the non switch end with a nylon strap, simple to do and it will allow it to swivel and be removed easy
PitStoP1 year ago
Cool,I like this. I'm wondering how bright is it compared to an incandescent light bulb?
ricoda (author)  PitStoP1 year ago
i would have to say that this is the best light we have used on the campsite, far outshines a single globe, probably because it's such a pure white light, hanging above the camp table on a rope it lights up a area about 5 metres round and casts enough light to see where your walking from lots further away.
Great idea, use lipos!!! the are better than Ni-mh batteries and you can pick one up,and a charger,for less the $15! Go to hobby king.com they have it there and shipping fast and cheap. They also have waterproof lights I think. Try it out!
ricoda (author)  GofishRC0071 year ago
yeah i did look at lipos, but they are smaller diameter and with the parts i had on hand wouldn't work as easy. I might try a smaller model next time with them. The charger i use came from hobbyking, great service from them!
Or you could make a box out of balsa,foam,plywood, etc and put the lipo in that, and the box you could glue inside of the pipe, They also have round lipos that you could wire together to make obut the ridht diameter.
link:
http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__23316__Turnigy_nano_tech_350mah_1S_15C_Round_Lipo_.html
Treknology1 year ago
I love it. A decent camping torch can cost more than this project.
billbillt1 year ago
Nice Job...
how do you think you would add a couple of mini solar chargers to it so it becomes self chargeing?
ricoda (author)  obi wan kaoni1 year ago
Thats not a bad idea, but for my use it's nice and simple. And if it was solar it would need to live in the sun most of the day so it might get pinched :)
Lorddrake1 year ago
how long can the light run before it needs recharging?
ricoda (author)  Lorddrake1 year ago
about 6-7 hrs, the light does diminish as the voltage drops, but we usually charge it up everyday when camping thru the solar setup on the van