Introduction: Salvaging a $1 Fake Shake Light

Picture of Salvaging a $1 Fake Shake Light

How to get upwards of $6 worth of parts from a $1 flashlight. So, if you bought one of these and feel ripped off, here is a nice way to make lemonade out of a lemon.

Step 1: Shake It, BREAK It!

Picture of Shake It, BREAK It!

First, you need to unscrew the lenscap. Next, carefully give it one good shake and be prepared to catch the inner tube. I recomend doing this while standing at the foot of your bed so it lands safely on it.

Step 2: Cheap Parts!!

Picture of Cheap Parts!!

Slip the batteries out using a pen and remove the circuit board by removing the single phillips-head screw holding it on. Voila, You now have:

1 - Ultra Bright white LED, great for throwies. (approx. $0.99 ea @ RadioShack)
2 - CR2032 batteries, useful for throwies or replacing the battery in your car's remote. ($1.95 ea @ WallMart)
And assorted other parts like a small circuit board and a magnifying lens, etc. that I'll give a cumulative value of $0.50 just to round things out nicely.


instructa-fan (author)2007-03-16

actually it is magnetic. I used it to pick up little screws and other metal crap from under my bed!lol! can you tell i'm an instructable fan when I have screws under my bed!

D34TH2U (author)instructa-fan2008-05-19

I have a welder, soldering iron, LEDs, wire coils, and tic-tac/altoid boxes under my bed...doesn't everyone?

mattccc (author)D34TH2U2009-11-14


twighahn (author)mattccc2011-04-21


hitachi8 (author)D34TH2U2010-07-04

yes ,

girrrrrrr2 (author)instructa-fan2007-06-17


Wolley (author)2010-02-02

I don't think there is a magnetic in this flashlight if it uses batteries and the author says it is fake. The real ones use a magnet, coil and cap. to store the energy. This one appears to be battery powered cheap $1.00 version.

mysterio77 (author)2010-01-06

 actually, the thing in the middle is a half-supermagnet. stronger than the average magnet, weaker than a supermagnet. how do i know? i have this exact model of flashlight. theres also a resistor in there if you get lucky

mysterio77 (author)mysterio772010-01-06

oh, and the screws? prob made of chromium or some other metal that isnt magnetic. supermagnet+magnetized screws=shattered magnet and/or screws

mattccc (author)2009-11-14

some of the shake flashlights are fake but not all of them

drakesword (author)2009-11-13

Hey there,

the piece in the middle has to be magnetic ... otherwise it wouldnt be able to induce a current in the coil from changing emf. Also you forgot to mention the large amount of magnet wire you get from this too!

Colonel88 (author)2009-10-12

Hey can't you charge CR2032 batteries?

power (author)2008-12-03

you can also save the magnet wire. pretty useful too

Jack Daniels (author)2006-10-28

Grr not beaing able to read these isn't helping

westfw (author)Jack Daniels2006-10-28

"View all steps on one page" is working...

boznia (author)westfw2008-10-24

Having been fooled by this one, and done some internet research ( whilst having no real knowledge of electronics ), is it possible to simply replace the CR2032 batteries with LIR2032 rechargeable ones? I have what I would call a semi fake in that the 'slug' is strongly magnetic and the coil is attached. Without the batteries the torch works ( really dimly ) and you can see the light pulsing when you shake it. However shaking it for a long time does not really improve the brightness. Would it require more components added to the circuit if I swapped the CR2032 for the rechargeable LIR2032s??? Hope someone can help.

Hoopajoo (author)boznia2008-10-24

I'm not sure about the LIR2032 ones, but I have replaced the batteries with a capacitor on my working one. It does pretty well. Thirty seconds of shaking yields 2-3 minutes of light.

boznia (author)Hoopajoo2008-10-25

Thanks Hoopajoo! Can you tell me which capacitor you used, and how easy it was to fit? I have done little electronics I am afraid, but am keen to make my semi fake light a real one if possible. Thanks, boznia

Hoopajoo (author)boznia2008-10-30

Pretty much any large capacity 5 to 6 volt capacitor will do. Just be careful that it is completely discharged before wiring it up and that you are getting it from a reputable vendor, there are some fakes out there that can be dangerous if overloaded.

Hoopajoo (author)Hoopajoo2008-10-30

Picture of fake capacitor that didn't get attached to my last post for some reason.

boznia (author)Hoopajoo2008-10-30

Thanks Hoopajoo. Can I ask one more quickie? Should I go for the highest Farad possible? is it the voltage that determines the brightness of the led? Also it looks like the tube where the slug goes would fit two AA batteries really well so I may just go for that option if the capacitor experiment fails.

Hoopajoo (author)boznia2008-10-30

The voltage dictates the brightness to a degree. Go to high on the voltage and you can burn your led out. The Farad rating can be likened to the Milliamp-hour rating on rechargeable batteries, it dictates the storage capacity and depletion rate. I used a 5.5v 1.2F supercap from State Electronics in mine. Hope this is of some help.

zach911 (author)2008-09-19

Take the copper off of the coil and go to a metal recycling place and they will pay u for it but its not much $

A good name (author)2008-06-21

Of course the coil's connected, it wouldn't work if it wasn't.

Hoopajoo (author)A good name2008-06-21

No, the coil wasn't connected. It was running completely off the batteries. Take a close look at the circuit board. It's empty.

A good name (author)2008-06-21

I had one of those... destroyed the casing but it was fun.

guyfrom7up (author)2008-06-20

well, I just opened a real shake flashlight (got it at a thrift store for 50 cents) and I got: 1x 0.22Farad Supercap (yay!) rated at 5.5 volts 1x bright LED 1x Super powerful big neodimium magnet 1x coil (don't know what to do with it) 1x Reed Switch (to make the flashlight water proof they had a small magnet on the outside that slides as a power siwtch, which activates the reed switch, very cool!)

guyfrom7up (author)guyfrom7up2008-06-21

my reed switch just broke... :( they are realy fragile, do not try and bend leads.

randempedestrian (author)2008-03-07

The "coil" in one I bought from the "Dollar Or Two" by me is not even a coil of copper wire, but rather a wide, reflective, copper-colored, plastic ribbon of sorts. As others mentioned, the hunk of metal is not magnetic (well, barely). However, the LED in this light is extremely bright compared to the brightest white LED that RadioShit sells.

I think I'll but a few of these cheap, fake flashlights for the LEDs (since $2 is a lesser cost than a less-bright LED from RS... plus I get a free housing, mini circular mirror, and convex lens) and then then one real shake-flashlight, and I'll build a nice bright multi-LED flashlight of my own.

planes891 (author)2006-12-31

ha radioshack near me has white leds for, wait for it... $5.29 lol

egreen767 (author)planes8912007-10-16

same here

Havoc481 (author)planes8912007-05-09 has led's for $0.50

Tool Using Animal (author)2006-10-27

I was wondering about this, I disassembled a student's light a couple of weeks ago to fix it for her (the switch got out of alignment) and I noticed that the magnet wasn't magnetic, but it was terribly heavy, I wonder if that's a lead slug?

Guess the Chinese had to put their excess lead somewhere, after they got caught painting children's toys with it.

Pogo (author)Tool Using Animal2006-12-05

If not magnet and not lead, I hope its not depleted uranium fragments from some bombs sent back home to get even.

Not lead. A magnet will stick to it.

Myself (author)2006-10-28

After hearing about the fake lights, I tested a few at the local cheap-chinese-junk emporium. Their $2 version was a true shake light, it started flat and brightened when the magnet passed through the coil, and would really build up some power after a minute's frantic shaking. But even after 2 minutes of shaking with the switch off, it only gave 20 seconds of light. I'm guessing there's just not enough energy storage in their cheap caps. Be suspicious of any "shake-light" that glows when you first turn it on. Unless another customer was just shaking it, the capacitor shouldn't have much in it. Verify that shaking does actually make it brighter! You should also get a bright "spike" of light as the magnet passes the coil, if you tip it end for end with the switch on. Failure to behave as described means it's probably a fake.

_soapy_ (author)Myself2007-05-24

Seconded, mostly. I find the good ones (I have two) hold charge for months, so a glow at power-on means little. However, shine it on something then shake it, and you will see the light get brighter as you do it. You can actually see a pulse effect if you shake fast and hold it fairly steady. The other test is to try and stick a paperclip or mortice key (generally steel) to it. (Note that most cylinder keys are brass coated with silvery coat, whereas all mortice keys are steel except for two manufacturers. The little steel rings that hold your keys in a bunch, however, are always steel.)

perkinsb1024 (author)2007-05-12

Where did you get one for $1?

Hoopajoo (author)perkinsb10242007-05-13

At a local oriental dollar store in a mall. I think it was locally owned and not a chain of some kind. I've seen some for $3 at other places like truck-stops and such. That's all these are honestly worth since they are fake shake lights. The magnet isn't real so all shaking does is waste your strength unless you use it as a cathartic experience when your boss makes you angry _. It's funny to note that they are worth much more as parts than as a shake light.

Bongmaster (author)2007-05-01

I have exactly the same thing.. but mines real too :D. would be interesting to see what projects you could make from this setup.. it is however a spare torch. (i have a much brighter more expencive {not that expencive} wind up torch/phone charger)

Hoopajoo (author)Bongmaster2007-05-02

Sounds like one of Kipkay's projects. Kipkay's Modified Cranklight

swizzle (author)2007-03-22

O.K. I paid $7 or $8 for mine and it looks just like the one you have in the pic. It does however have an actual magnet and as far as I can tell everything is hooked up, cheap set up but its all good. I also notice a direct conection between the brightness of the flashlight and sahking it to increase the light output. well now that I got it all apart should I put it back together or does someone have a cool project beside throwies that I can try? I'm thinking in the lines of an ultra light camping lantern. I may need a few more LEDs though. Swizzle

westfw (author)2006-10-27

Apparently, a lot (ok, a "fair number") of "fake" shake lights are on the market. The magnet isn't a magnet, the batteries are not rechargable, and the "shake" part is just for show. What you have is essentially a battery-powered LED light without replaceable batteries. If you paid a buck for it, that's not too bad. If you paid a more typical $5-10, you've gotten ripped off...

Aeshir (author)westfw2007-01-28

I suppose if you wire two rechargable AAs or something you could make it into a normal flashlight. And maybe even cut off excess plastic shell to make it miniaturized! :D

Aeshir (author)2007-01-28

I have two of these exact flashlights, except their blue and actually have real magnets in them. The coil is connected to the LED, by way of the battery. It cannot run directly off the coil because if it did you would have to continuously shake it to work. The coil charges the battery which in turn powers the LED. Of course, it could be a knockoff of the model I have. probably what you have xD.

getreal (author)2006-11-22

ha. I gotta laugh. I bought a bunch of these from a local flea market. a buck a piece...and I've been giving them to friends, telling them they work on the faraday principle of electro magnetics. lol. So, I finally took it apart and saw...well, the first giveaway was two batteries. Well, okay, I thought...this must be how they store the energy for the LED. then it was on to the magnet. I don't hold a doctorate in electro magnetics, but it would be plausable that a magnet should be magnetic, no? Okay, starting to feel like an idiot, I examined it a little more and, again, im no expert, but the copper wire was coiled on the outside of the plastic tube, seperating it from the "magnet". Alrighty. so, onto the circuit board. the only connections were that of the bulb to the board to the switch to the battery. I guess you can say, I got punk'd... Anyone have any bridges they are sellng? Well, I suppose I will have to let my friends in on the joke, or maybe not. It was novel, at the very least, and the $1 flashlight I kept for myself, I have had for about 3 months, still works great... I keep it in my car and use it several times here and there. Well, I guess, if nothing else, at least I don't have to shake it now. But it would have been cool to have the real thing. Lesson here? get what you pay for?... either way, I wouldnt say it's a total loss. Albeit poor in quality, it has served me well in situations where I needed a flashlight, and for a little led with a magnifier, it is fairly bright. Anyway, thanks for the info in all your posts. It definitely verified my assumptions regarding the credibility of these cheap-o fackes.

dailydriver (author)2006-11-04

The flashlight in that picture does not work as it suppose to, but the board has ll the connection. You need to add some diodes to make a DC Rectifier so it will work (well, not that great), but it does generate a current when shaken. Assuming the magnet is a magnet. The two batteries you see in there are just two regular watch batteries and not rechargeable. You also need to add a NiMH batter to the LED side. I bought one of these for $4 but it had everything inside it, but I was very dissappointed when I found out that those two batteries are just normal non-rechargeable batteries. I had removed them, and replaced the capacitor with a NiMH battery and it works decently. There is also 4 diodes in there to make an ac to dc rectifier so it would charge the NiMH battery. If you want a good one. Get the ones that have an arm where you crank it. Those are real. I'm thinking you bought it for one dollar, because they left all the electronic components off. I bought mine for $4 and it had all the components. Yet it's still a rip off light. DO NOT BUY ONE OF THESE AT ALL. Tell who ever is selling to you know what.

TheCheese9921 (author)2006-10-29

so what if i replaced the peace of metal with a magnet the same size and put rechargables in it

Hoopajoo (author)TheCheese99212006-10-29

Still wouldn't work on this kind. There is no circuitry on the board. just a direct connect between the batteries and the LED. The coil isn't even hooked up.

About This Instructable




Bio: USAF - Spec. Communications, Telemetry & Data Networking, Microwave Networks, Aeronautics Interests: Metal working, Electronics and Botany (especially wild edible plants, "Feed the world with weeds") More »
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