Introduction: Tilt Shotgun Shell Night Light!

Picture of Tilt Shotgun Shell Night Light!

Build a really simple shotgun shell night light that turns on with a flip!


Do not try to do this with live ammunition! The shotgun shells used in this project were empty casings!

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
  • 1 paper shotgun shell
  • 1 transparent plastic shotgun shell
  • 1 tilt ball sensor/switch
  • 2 bright white LEDs
  • 1 3v button cell battery ( I used a CR2032)

Step 2: Tools

  • Soldering iron
  • Exacto knife, scalpel.

Step 3: Basic Construction

Picture of Basic Construction

I was messing around with some old shotgun shells when I found that the metal casings would hold a 3v button cell battery perfectly if I removed the paper tube. Since the positive side of the button cell battery wraps around the edge of the battery I could place the battery inside the metal casing without it shorting out. I used bright white LEDs since normal ones could not emit enough light through the green plastic. I also tried green LEDs which worked quite well, but not as well as the bright white.

Step 4: Preparations

Picture of Preparations

To remove the tube I had to drill out the compressed paper, soaking it in water, drilling again, cutting... When I was done I was left with this metal casing. This is where the battery will sit. Cut off the folds on the end of the plastic casing.

Step 5: Circuit

Picture of Circuit

This is the circuit. It's a bit messy but it works. The LEDs are connected in parallel to the cylinder of the tilt switch which is then connected to the negative side of the battery.

Step 6: Building

Picture of Building

I soldered the positive side of the LEDs to the shell casing and positioned the tilt switch node where the battery's negative side will be. The pictures show how it works; the tilt switch closes the circuit when it's turned right side up. When it's turned upside down, the tilt switch is open = the lights turn off. The primer acts as a part holding the battery connection in place.

Step 7: Aesthetics

Picture of Aesthetics

This is what it looks like when I place the plastic casing oven the circuit! The plastic casing fits snuggly in the metal casing! It sort of looks like a huge fuse.

Step 8: Finished

Picture of Finished

This is what it looks like! When I flip it, it turns on and gives off a soft green light. Perfect for a night light!

Step 9: PS. Thoughts...

It's been a few days since a built this now and I've come across a tiny problem. The tilt switch doesn't have a very good connection to the battery so it will flicker a bit. I soldered a small spring to the tilt switch to make a better connection and now it works fine. :)

Step 10: If You Like This Instructable, Please Comment!


DROOGS53 (author)2015-04-24

I am going to make some for my daughter and also hunting!

kneimanis (author)2015-04-23

Nice Instructable! Like the idea of reusing the casings. I have tons of these and will be making some! Question: Why do you solder the negative side of the LED leads to the tilt switch casing and not to the other post? Thanks!

My switch is a bit weird. It's an spdt switch, I just needed an spst switch.

Thanks for the reply. That makes sense.

gilbequick (author)2015-03-28

How long will the battery last?

A CR2032 battery is rated at 3.0 volts and 225 mAh. 2 LEDs at 20 mA = 40 mA. This equals 3937.5 hours not counting battery discharge curve. Wow that seems like a long time. Not sure I calculated that correctly.

The intensity is only limited by the internal battery resistor, about 10 ohm, i=u/r, i=3/10=300mA ! the battery will last about one hour !

224 divided by 40, which is 5.5 hours. Thats assuming they pull all 40mA we're thinking of.

That being said I accidentialy left two white LEDs connected to a CR2032 battery for something like a week in my car, and fund them still lit up. (Name tag from an event.) A friend of mine did as well and found his lighting up way longer than expected.

Kudos for a really darn fun design.

Oh now i see what I did wrong! I used this mAh calculator ( and entered "0.04" in the mA field. Not realising it was mA and not A. Thanks for the help!

See I knew I was doing something wrong ;) thanks!

eqreservoir (author)2015-04-14

Great Instructable. Looking forward to making some of these

How did you connect the switch to the negative side of the
battery? I’ve tried to solder too CR2032 batteries and was unable to make it stick.

I soldered a small spring, like those in battery packs, to the node that goes to negative. That way, when i put it all in the hull, it still makes contact.

DannyA2 (author)2015-04-13

Could you give me the exact details of the ball tilt switch and the Bright LED lights, and the Battery? What type of ball tilt switch did you use for this. There are quite the bit of them out there and I want to get this exact for my son.

ProveYouAreHuman made it! (author)2015-04-10

Thank you for coming up with this. Super fun once it's done, although it's a pain in the arse to clean the plastic out of the casing if you're just using regular plastic shells and not paper. Cheers!

Well, it was worth it. Yours look great!

Dj_ghostbuster (author)2015-04-08

Cool love it you should post a vidio

Ernext (author)2015-04-08

this is really interesting

Wickedclown24hr (author)2015-04-05

This is sick!!
When I get back home I'm going to make 5 of these with different colored shells.

Post pictures here if you do, I'd love to see them :)

mturner45 made it! (author)2015-04-03

tons of fun

Beautiful! Looks better than mine :) well done!

YahtzeeHobo (author)2015-04-04

I have to try this! #IamaHobo

HeatherP2 (author)2015-03-28

I wish I had some extra shells now...

Mr.Fizz (author)HeatherP22015-04-03

I got my shells from a shooting range. The guy that worked there didn't act like it was weird that I wanted empty shells. :)

HeatherP2 (author)Mr.Fizz2015-04-04

I'll keep that in mind... :)

natis413 (author)2015-03-31

I made something to this effect when I was twelve I just heated up the brass on a plastic she'll and pulled it off with a oven mit then cut down the other shell removed the primer from the brass I pulled off made a simple circuit with some leds I had laying around rigged up a button that would fit the hole the primer came out of and filled the rest with hotglue making sure I could Change the button batteries that I scavenged out of McDonald toys

Do you still have it? I'd love to see it :)

Unfortunately no this was ten years ago I gave it to my uncle who lost it

Mr.Fizz (author)natis4132015-04-03

Some people children. Can't trust them with toys.

wildfyre (author)2015-04-03

If only I had the ability to solder! I love this idea!

Everytime we go to the range we have a hundred or so of these things rattling around. What a great way to use them.

It's really not that hard. Youtube is your friend ;)

backinthelab (author)2015-04-02

A quick note of caution, be sure to clean out the interior of the hulls well to avoid lead exposure while handling these. Even spent shells have a lead content that, while most likely won't effect adults, has the potential to be harmful to young children and the unborn. Not trying to scare anyone, this is actually a pretty cool idea, just wanted to be sure everyone is safe.

Kuffar (author)2015-04-02

Cool! Looks like a blast.

saheb.bedi.7 (author)2015-04-02

I dont know where to get those shells ! :/ I live in India

wdsims63 (author)2015-04-01

2 questions.

1. What size shell? (12 Ga, 20 Ga?)

2. What size battery? CR2032? CR1620?

12 Ga and CR2032 :)

Foker1337 (author)wdsims632015-04-01

I think it is a 12g and 2032. Based on 12g SAMMI Specs ( and CR2032 info (

ndronet (author)2015-03-31

Very cool idea Simon. Looking forward to doing this. I shoot sporting clays so getting spent shells in all kinds of colors is pretty easy. Also I found a great source of LEDs for projects like this is from LED Christmas lights. For a few bucks you can salvage 100 LED lights from a string.

simon.w.nordberg (author)ndronet2015-04-01

Sound like you have some night light building to do! A couple of hundred or so :D

dirizary (author)2015-03-31

I really like how simple this project is. Very nice.

Thank you!

DonN4 (author)2015-03-31

Where did you find the tilt switch?...ive been looking all over and cant find anything that looks like that...ive got everything shack (all three of them in my area) has closed its stumped....

simon.w.nordberg (author)DonN42015-04-01 sell them, search for "inclinometer". You can also find packs of 10 or so on ebay. Sometimes it's called "ball tilt sensor" or "ball tilt switch". Good luck!

mountainfish (author)2015-03-31

Great project! It appeals to so many sides of me. The hunter. The nerd. The go green recycling side. The dad (sometimes I want to check on my newborn son without turning on a bright light). Good work.

Thank you so much! If you decide to make one, consider using a red plastic shell instead. Human eyes are much less sensitive to red light than green light. You don't want to wake up your newborn ;)

billie.nenninger (author)2015-03-31

I'm not very good at electronics, but this looks so good that I tempted to try this project. I thinks our grandkids would love these.

:D This makes me happy! Please post a picture if you decide to build it!

Aristarco (author)2015-03-31

Cool! Nice use of a tilt switch. Kudos!

lindsey.borsa (author)2015-03-31

This is a great idea. Kudos to you.

Thank you!

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a sound designer who's studied computer game development, run my own sound design business and like to build thing in my spare ...
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