Shake-A-Can Generator

Picture of Shake-A-Can Generator
Shake-A-Can Generator.

Make a simple generator that will help show how electricity is produced.

A generator works because the magnets are exciting the electrons in the coil. The magnet moving back and forth creates alternating current (AC).  That is the electrons are moving back and forth through the coils and the LED (light emitting diode).  The excited electrons passing through the LED lights the LED.

This idea for our first instructable came from Jonathan Hare at

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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
35 mm film canister
Thin insulated copper wire*
Magnets that just fit in canister**
Scissors or wire cutters

*We used 30 guage magnet wire

**Neodymium magnets work best but we were able to get the light to turn on with ceramic magnets (much cheaper).

Step 2: Put Wire into Can

Picture of Put Wire into Can
Take 35mm film can and remove the lid. Place about (its not rocket science here) 3 inches of the wire into can and close the lid.

Step 3: Wind Wire

Picture of Wind Wire
Wind on 500 to 1000 turns of thin, insulated copper wire. We recommend the 1000.

Cut from spool of wire.

1000 times wrapped around looks like this.

Step 4: Tape Wire Down

Picture of Tape Wire Down
Add a layer of tape to keep the wire from unwinding.

Remember to leave about 3inches or so of wire free at each end.

Carefully take out the 3 inches of wire from inside the canister.

Step 5: Attach LED

Picture of Attach LED
Scrape off 1/2 inch of insulation from the ends of the wire (using sandpaper) and connect to the LED (it does not matter which leg of the LED goes with which wire).

Solder the connections if possible or wrap the exposed wire to the legs of the LED. Use some tape to secure the wire and LED to the bottom, top, or side of the can.

Step 6: Shake

Picture of Shake
Put magnet into the can and snap the lid back on.

Hold the can between thumb and forefinger at the two ends of the can with thumb or forefinger on the lid to stop it coming off!


The LED will light!!
robobot31121 minute ago


Jan_Henrik6 hours ago

very cool!

Fearce16 hours ago

If you want the LED to stay on for longer periods of time (perhaps mins) than

I would like to suggest this YouTube link , ENJOY

astral_mage7 months ago
now if u put. a diode in there with somr recharge batteries. then yr light will last longer.
Very nice.
Cats Science Club (author)  Ronald Joseph11 months ago
Thanks! This is our first Instructable!

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