Introduction: Ultrabright LED Emergency Lamp (Rechargeable!)

Picture of Ultrabright LED Emergency Lamp (Rechargeable!)
Preparing for a calamity or planning to go camping in the vast wilderness? Make an ultrabright emergency light in less than 5 minutes! It glows 360° and is completely WATERPROOF!. In addition the jar's lid can be detached from the jar turning it into a compact flashlight! This is a simple project that uses a 3W LED and a BL-5C (Li-ion) Nokia battery. Macgyver's style!

It's completely rechargeable, via USB or wallwart (5v), only takes an hour to fully charge the lamp. If you remember my previous project "DIY Portable USB Solar Charger", you can charge the jar using a solar panel. Guys, it's free and renewable energy!

Top 10 Practical Uses (Must Read):
1st.) Portable Emergency Light
2nd.) Camping Light/ Lamp
3rd.) Floating Pool Lanterns
4th.) Nightlight (Sidetable Lamp)
5th.) Constant Camera Light
6th.) Waterproof Rescue Lights!
7th.) Solar Powered LED Lamp
8th.) Garden Props & Ornaments
9th.) Replacement for gas lamps
10th.) Halloween Lanterns (Modded Version)

Real Life Scenario (My Experience):
(11/8/13) - A Category 4 typhoon has entered the Philippine area of responsibility. Codenamed: Yolanda
(11/8/13) - The president declared a state of calamity, told to brace ourselves.
(11/8/13) - My parents told me to charge all our lamps, unfortunately 2 out 4 emergency lamps were broken.
(11/8/13) - I made a simple "Jar Emergency Light" in just 5 minutes!
(11/9/13) - Typhoon reached our area with extreme rain and winds.
(11/9/13) - 1:00am The Blackout Started, my 1st time to use the LED Jar :D
(11/9/13) - It feels so cozy to light up a whole room as if there was electricity!


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Step 1: Gathering Tools & Materials

Picture of Gathering Tools & Materials

Since this was a "Macgyver" type of assembly, the parts needed to come from recycled parts. Most of them came from my scrap radio on the other hand my 3W LED came from an old 220v LED Bulb.

- 3W Ultrabright LED (Radioshack or AC LED Bulbs)
- Red LED Indicator (Recycled Parts)
- BL-5C Nokia Battery (Old Nokia Phone)
- 1N4007 Recitifer Diode (Recycled Parts)
- 470 ohm Resistor (Radioshack or Recycled Parts)
- On/ Off switch (Recycled Parts)
- DC Power Jack (Recycled Parts)
- Scotch Mounting Strips

Tools & Equipment:
- Soldering Iron
- Hot Glue Gun
- Leatherman
- Portable Drill

Step 2: Scavenging for Parts

Picture of Scavenging for Parts
I was in a rush when I assembled my lamp since the storm has already entered our country. Since I'm a Macgyver fan, I like to make things with existing parts around me. BTW I made two lamps, one made from brand new parts and one from scavenged parts.

Where To Scavenge Parts (Macgyver Style):
  1. Broken Radios, CFL Bulbs, Toys
  2. Busted Flashlights, AC LED Bulbs
  3. Old Nokia Phones (I have no use for my Nokia)
  4. Home Inventory
Things You Get From Them (For Free):
  1. Resistors, Switches, DC Plugs, LED Indicators
  2. Some Working High Powered LEDs (cuz it's in series)
  3. Li-Ion Batteries (ex. BL-5C)
  4. Glass Jar, Utility Knife, Tape, Gluegun

Step 3: Hot Glue the Parts in Place

Picture of Hot Glue the Parts in Place

1st.)  Drill two holes (6mm) for your "Charger's Plug" and for the "Slider Switch"
2nd.) Solder two wires to your BL-5C's positive and negative terminals.
3rd.)  Hot glue everything In place!
4th.)  Use a small strip of Scotch's mounting pads to mount the 3W LED (BTW, they don't melt)

Want To Make It Waterproof?
Don't drill holes, just hot glue the socket and switch inside the jar/ lid. Just unscrew the lid to charge!

Step 4: Optional: Adding a USB Lithium USB Charger

Picture of Optional: Adding a USB Lithium USB Charger

Trickle charging isn't the best way to charge lithium batteries. When overcharged, they have the tendency to explode, that is if you forget to unplug it for an hour. If you plan to use this in long terms, I would recommend to attach this module for safety. To install this circuit, simply connect the Bat+ and Bat- parallel to the battery's respective terminals. 

You can buy it here for $1.70! "1A Lithium Battery Charging Module - Blue"

Red Light = Charging
Green Light = Fully Charged

Step 5: The Schematic Diagram

Picture of The Schematic Diagram

One thing you must know BL-5C batteries, they have a voltage protection circuit inside them. You can trickle charge these batteries at 5 volts, just limit the charge time for an hour. If you want to take precaution, there are Lithium battery chargers available out there.

How Does The Circuit Work?
This is a very simple circuit that doesn't require circuit boards. All it does is trickle charge the battery, a rectifier diode was added to prevent the backflow of current. I added a LED charging indicator just to show whether the jar is charging or not.

Step 6: Solder Everything in Place

Picture of Solder Everything in Place

Just follow the circuit diagram and you are good to go! A perf board isn't necessary but if you insist then go ahead.

Step 7: Charge Testing

Picture of Charge Testing

Cool! If you've done it right, the jar should glow red when the charging. You can also charge this with my previous project: the "DIY Portable USB Solar Charger".

Step 8: You're Done!

Picture of You're Done!

How about let's go camping!

Step 9: Dentita's Version

Picture of Dentita's Version

Dentita, a fellow instructable member, made his awesome version of the Jar.


rimar2000 (author)2013-11-09

Always awesome, Casimiro!

ASCAS (author)rimar20002013-11-09


Mercurion925 (author)2013-11-08

Awesome instructable!! It's really clearly written, especially considering the circumstances of construction :) Hope you guys are ok in the Philippines!

ASCAS (author)Mercurion9252013-11-09

Thanks! And yeah, the storm's gone :D I hope the people in the provinces are okay.

jimbuntu made it! (author)2017-05-05

instead of jar, I'm using the light cap from a broken led light and cd as the base. It's really useful especially during the heavy rainy season when electricity is out.
Nice instructables!

amalik101 made it! (author)2017-01-19

Nice one, did it with ease... However I made it soft light emergency lamp.

SimonQ1 (author)2017-01-01

Dangggg!!it's so awesome! I'm also from the Philippines, interested in anything electronic and LED related. Nice instructable

asvp (author)2016-11-28

Thank you for the free PDF

Gelfling6 (author)2016-05-06

I just tossed together a simple version of this.. a Talenti Gelato jar (plastic cover & jar), a 5mm White LED, a 3V Lithium coin cell holder salvaged off a dead motherboard, and the 3V Lithium coin cell.. Simply poked the pins of the battery holder through the plastic lid, soldered the LED to the pins, closed the jar, and simply click the battery into place.. I Though, I like your version! the larger battery will definitely give longer life, and the 1-Watt LED, more light!

Gelfling6 (author)Gelfling62016-05-16

... and just published it.. Not as water-proof, but simple enough.

modronebo (author)2016-03-12

You really are genius...but I have a problem...imagine: you are an elder woman with no electric education, but still with biiiiiig desire to make such thing. Would you be so kind and make instructions for dummies like: this solder here, that put there (or even with photos), connect this part...would you? I suppose many people are like me, but they will not say :).

AnnabellaMarie (author)modronebo2016-04-30

I second that request! I love the idea, would love to make several, don't have a stash of used parts, not sure what to buy...or where to even start. You're an amazing young man! How about a video of this project?

jbcol1 (author)2016-04-29

nice job!

R A Shah (author)2016-04-28

I think a small current limiting resistor in series with LED will add safety. This 3W LED tend to go for thermal runaway due to heating up.

maintann (author)2016-04-28

An even simpler, cheaper area light that I have used a number of times is to place a couple of handfulls of dirt (or similar) in a white translucent shopping bag (the type supermarkets are phasing out). Sit a tealight candle on top of the dirt, in the centre of course. Light it & hang it in a tree. While not as bright as a Cree LED it gives ample light for moving around the campsite

sue.donim.144 (author)2016-04-28

buying a few solar lights at a dollar store might suffice ... for longer time one can replace the aaa/aa battery with a higher ma type. and if you are good with iron then replace the led with brighter one. dollar store also sell mini lanterns sometime or glow it the dark items . enough of them can provide some light.

danny.omoore (author)2016-04-28

or you could set fire to your tent... which would give ample light for camping.

Great little light, I particularly like how you scavenged parts... very MAD MAX & cool.

PJSolarz (author)2016-04-28

Great post... Thanks!

sak3 (author)2016-03-25

when im connecting it to the adapter the diode in the circuit is heating up! is it normal.
what's gone wrong?

tshohan (author)2016-02-24

I used 8 light (led+smd)

Thanks for this project.. :-)

tshohan made it! (author)2016-02-24

Thanks for this project.
I used 8 light (smd+led).

BotheredSilence (author)2016-02-06

Would BL-4C work in the project?

BotheredSilence (author)2016-01-23

I hope you could reply, Sir. Thank you.

BotheredSilence (author)2016-01-23

I hope you could reply, Sir. Thank you.

BotheredSilence (author)2016-01-23

Sir, I'm from the Philippines also. Your inventions are really cool especially this one. So, i decided to make this for our Investigatory project. Are all the items available in Radioshack or some Hardware shops?

Jakubcz (author)2016-01-22

Hello, it´s possible to build this circuit based on Joule Thief?

I have many AA Battery in the middle of life and it is a shame to throw it , they can still serve ecologically.

gallenphotography (author)2016-01-12

Do you use the positive and negative posts on the battery for both charging and using it as power source?

nomiikram made it! (author)2016-01-06

Awesome! Please add 2-3 more pictures of wiring as person like me who does not belong to science understood circuit with much difficulty.

Its great idea and I have modified it using bigger Jam bottle and battery holder so that battery can easily be replaced as soldering on battery is a difficult process :p I used usb type charger so it can be easily charged with new phones chargers :p

dans88 (author)2015-11-24

I've just made one, inspired by this nice work, thank you !

polisetty (author)2015-09-14


kimberley.vaughan.7 (author)2015-08-24

So young and so clever! Very impressive. You are to be congratulated on your methodology. Your instructable is very clear, concise, informative and useful. Very well done.

dacarls (author)2015-06-27

I cannot find the schematic. Where is it?

basementhacker (author)2013-12-10

Here's my version:
I used a scavenged headlamp LED set and removed the charging LED from the picture. My charger is 6v and the battery is an old phone battery.

Where did you find a bored that held leds like that

It was just from an LED headlamp. I just took it out and the LEDs were on it.

ASCAS (author)basementhacker2013-12-14

Neat! I can see you used 5mm LEDs. I bet they stay cool all throughout its operating time :D

basementhacker (author)ASCAS2013-12-15

Yes! But now I'm having trouble charging the battery. Could my circuitry be off? It's just the charger in parallel with the battery and lights. It was barely shining yesterday, so I plugged it in, and now the battery has no charge at all.

ASCAS (author)basementhacker2013-12-16

Do you have a rectifier diode installed (ex. 1N4007)? Diodes prevent the back flow of electricity. If yes, then try to check your diode's polarity.

basementhacker (author)ASCAS2013-12-16

No, but I can most certainly install one. Where does it connect, and does the size matter?

ASCAS (author)basementhacker2013-12-19

You can refer to the schematic from above.

Not exactly, but to be sure, attach a 1A rectifier diode (1N4001).

killer5150 (author)2015-06-18

Is there any way that you can post picture of the one with that safe charger one?

krecik (author)2015-06-18

Try to put a strip of white paper inside, around the jar, it'll diffuse the light (LED is really bright so can blind u sometimes). Connecting LED directly to battery is not a good idea ;) resistor will drain some power but it protect the LED from too high current. Also if u want to make it really really waterproof - mount wireless charger at the bottom and use magnetic switch to turn on :D.

Anyhow, nice idea :) keep it up!

loachridge (author)2015-06-16

You know what I love most about this instructable??

The PDF at the end. Thank you for passing something genuinely helpful along.

spark master (author)2015-06-15

Lovely project , but please make one out of plastic jar and lid. More forgiven with a drop to the ground. Peanut butter jars are good, stiff plastic ones are great as well.

If old fashioned nicads are used (metal hydride as well I think) you can charge in the sun with a small photovoltaic cell set up.

Rip apart an old HD and walla 2 neodids for free. glue them on the top for a light that can be stuck onto magnetic metal surfaces. Or, put one on the lid and the other on a small cap that allows it to be "hung" on a tent wall, but just as nice you can leave both on the bottle top and just keep the metal cap handy to sandwich the tent wall between the cap lid and the jar lid.

I made a jar light just for house use and in a black out it was nice to have non fire sourced light, (candles). I used the old flash camera circuits boards. and batteries to drive a CF lamp off a battery.

Additionally, you can use lawn walk way ights on a stick that charge in the sun. When fully charged pull out the bats so you use one or two lights at a time. You could build a simple circuit with a switch to feel the battery, ands give it an on off ability.

Nice project , just in thyme fer the hurrycane season. chuckle

No find plans for alky stoves, at (, and rocket stoves (wood burners), and a primer for how to bake with dutch oven type cooking. All good to have when the stinky brown stuff hits the whirley-bird thing!

ApprenticeWizard (author)2015-06-15

I understand whipping something together. Expanding on +saif8897's comments and notes for better quick builds and for anyone pre-building this (aka before the storm comes):

- Don't mount the LED to the battery. 3W LEDs will generate a notable bit of heat. Localized heating of a rechargeable at best mucks up their life, at worst causes a hazard.

- On that note, spread the LED heat. LED life decreases notably the hotter they run, so try to create a thermally conductive heat path (e.g. a metal mounting bracket) to the lid

- As you noted, use the correct charging device. LiPo are a bit more touchy on their energy needs. Even better, for emergencies, use primary cells (Alkaline AA/LR6 for instance) that could be swapped out quickly for fresh, if needed, or for rechargables. Though that does bring me to my next note

- Control the current through the LED. Your circuit, like LED throwies, depends on the internal resistance of the battery for current limiting. This is not a good fixed number, and will vary with load, charge, life, and battery pack. Too much current will notably shorten the life of an LED. And if you use a primary cell with rechargable swap option, you would assuredly need some sort of limiting for the primary cells.

All of the above are for long-term use, and with some additional options. For a quick-n-dirty, this is a great start.

saif8897 (author)2015-06-08

cool project.

some suggestions:

Instead of clear glass bottle use a frosted one or put a bit of crinkcled tin-foil at the bottom and top. This way you will get a better 360degree light.

The LED would need some form of heat sink. A closed bottle will just build up the heat for both battery and led. try to create one that transfers the heat from the LED to the metal bottle top. If the top gets too hot, you may just put a pvc tape on the side of the cap to hold.

Because of the charger socket and the switch, the bottle will not be waterproof. Actually it will be very difficult to make this waterproof without the use of inductive charging etc. But you can make it reasonably water-resistant by creating some rubber flap to go over the two open points. maybe with a bit of sugru...

CurtR (author)saif88972015-06-14

Why not make a 90 ° cone out Al foil and put it on the bottom of the jar, pointing up, to reflect the light out.

nmccrackan (author)2015-06-14

Great job

e5frog (author)2015-06-14

If you have the charge connector and button inside the lid it would be waterproof.

kevin_28 (author)2015-05-29


About This Instructable




Bio: Hi I'm Angelo! I am a 18 y/o college sophomore taking my majors in BS-ECE at the DLSU. I use my course as ... More »
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