I recently picked-up a vintage torch from the op-shop. I love the design and retro feel of the torch and initially was just going to keep as is until I discovered that the batteries had leaked way back when and corroded a lot of the insides. Strangely, I was kinda happy that it wouldn't work as it would now give me a chance to improve it and make it something special.
So how did I up-cycle? I added an LED to the front light, as well as some LED strip lights where the florescent globe was. I also added a dimmer so I could turn down the strip LED's, a voltage meter, solar panel and I also added a 9.6v battery pack as well.
The project really isn't too hard as fortunately the torch came apart very easily. This made adding all the components a breeze. There is a whole bunch of wires and parts that need to fit into the torch and I made a few rookie mistakes, but overall I'm very happy with the finished torch.
I have included a short video of the torch in action as well
Step 1: Watch the Video
Step 2: What You'll Need
What you add to your up-cycled torch will depend on how much room you have. I was lucky with the vintage torch that I found as there was plenty of room to add whatever I wanted.
1. Torch - Check eBay
2. 8 x AA battery holder - eBay
3. 8 x 3000mAH Ni-MH Rechargeable Battery's - eBay
4. 5.5 v solar panel - eBay
5. LED Dimmer - eBay
6. Step-up voltage booster - eBay
7. 9v battery clip - eBay
8. Momentary switch - eBay
9. Voltage meter - eBay
10. 12v LED globe - eBay
11. LED strip light - eBay
12. 6-24V to 5V 3A step down Converter - eBay
13. Toggle switch - eBay
14. Female jack socket - eBay
15. 12v Charger - eBay
Step 3: Checking Out Your Torch
Chances are you will probably have a different torch than the one that I used. There are many different torch types and shapes out there so the chances you have the same as me will be pretty slim. The first thing you should do is to pull-apart your torch and work out the best way to hack it. For consistence, I’ll just work on the premise that you have the same torch as me and will go through the steps that I did when moding this torch.
You can see from the images below that this torch came in its original box.
1. Un-screw the 2 ends of the torch
2. Pull off the 2 caps that hold the clear plastic cover and insides in place
3. Remove the cover and florescent globe if it still has one
Step 4: Pulling Out the Insides
So now you have your torch apart, it’s time to start removing any parts that you aren’t going to use. The important thing here is to make as much space as possible for all of the new electronics you want to add.
Check out those batteries!
1. Un-screw the circuit board and remove – you won’t be using this
2. Next remove the switch from the circuit board – you will be using this.
3. Cut away any wires or terminals that might get in your way or take up space
Step 5: Adding the Solar Panel
In my haste to add the solar panel, I didn’t take into consideration the caps that go on the end of the torch. I had to trim one in order for it to fit correctly. Lesson here is: don’t drill and stick until you’re sure it’s correct…
1. With a piece of masking tape mark where the terminals are on the solar panel. Make sure the masking tape is the same length as the solar panel – it will help when deciding where to place on the torch.
2. Place the masking tape on the torch and drill the holes needed for the wires
3. Solder a red wire to the positive and a black to the negative terminals on the solar panel and thread through the holes
4. Add some good, double sided tape to the back of the panel and stick to the torch
Step 6: Adding the Voltage Step-up Regulator
1. You will need to add a diode to the positive wire on the solar panel. This will ensure that the solar panel doesn’t drain power from the batteries. The non-striped section should be soldered to the wire.
2. On the back of the little voltage regulator you can see that there is a voltage in (VIN), ground (GND) and a Voltage out (VOUT). As we are converting the voltage from the solar panel to 12v’s, you will want to solder the end of the diode (the one with the stripe) to the VIN pin.
3. Next solder another wire to the end of the negative wire from the solar panel. This wire will join onto the negative wire on the batteries a little further on. You then need to solder the 2 wires to the middle pin (GND)
4. Solder a red wire to the last pin (VOUT). You will be attaching this to the positive battery terminal soon.
5 Lastly, hot glue the regulator into place and tape down any loose wires.
Step 7: Battery Terminal and Switch
Initially in this step I went and used a terminal block as you can see in the pics below. Bit of a silly idea really as it was big and not easy to use. Plus, I must have wired something wrong because when I attached it to the battery, smoke and melted plastic was what I was left with. You will see images of the terminal through-out the ‘ible. Instead of the terminal I went with a solder perf board
1. Solder the wires from the 9v battery terminal to the perf board. You won’t need much perf board so just cut off a small piece. All of the negative and positive wires from the torch will be attached to the board
2. Next you will need to re-attach the switch again. As the insides have been removed, I just screwed the switch into place from the outside.
Step 8: Adding the Dimmer
The dimmer I made for LED’s and is very easy to pull apart
1. First un-screw the case that the dimmer comes in
2. Next remove the circuit board from the inside and un-screw the knob from the case as well.
3. Decide where you want to place the knob form the dimmer in the torch and drill a hole the same size as the pot.
4. Screw the knob into place
5. Next solder a positive wire and a negative wire to the perf board and connect to the “in” section of the terminal on the dimmer circuit. The out section is where you will wire up the LED and switch to.
Step 9: Female Charging Socket
In order to be able to charge the torch with mains power, I also added a female charging socket. You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to; it just gives another means of charging the torch. You could just take the batteries out of the battery holder and put them into a battery charger if you wanted to.
1. Drill a hole in the torch big enough to fit the female socket.
2. Screw the socket into place
3. Solder a couple of wires to the terminals. The “hot” or positive is usually the middle pin, whist the negative is usually one of the outside pins. It will all depend on what type of 12v plug you have to charge with. It’s pretty easy to work out though and will be highlighted on the actual power adapter.
4. Solder the positive wire to the positive section of the perf board and do the same for the negative
Step 10: Adding the Voltage Meter
Again – this isn’t really necessary. However, who doesn’t love to be able to check the voltage, especially when you’re using the sun to charge the torch. It’s great to see it slowly rise and charge. Plus it’s great to be able to check what power you have left in case you do need to charge it the next day. Scrap the first sentence – It’s def necessary.
1. With a dremel or other suitable tool, make a hole in the case of the torch big enough for the voltage meter. Glue into place. I used some epoxy to ensure a good bond.
2. You are also going to need to add a small momentary switch. Drill a couple small holes into the case of the torch next to the meter. Solder a couple thin wires to the pins on the switch, thread through the holes and glue the switch into place
3. Wire the switch to the voltage meter and attach the other wires to the perf board, red to positive black to …you know by now.
4. The black ring around the meter was initially there to hold the meter whist the glued dried. As this covered up any mistakes I may have made when cutting out the hole for the meter, I decided to add a better fitting one and leave it there
Step 11: Batteries
Next step is to add the batteries and holder. Initially I went with 3000mAH Ni-MH style battery but as they were cheap and nasty, they failed pretty much as soon as I started to use them. I decided to ditch these and use some rechargeable batteries you buy at the shop. Actually these are very good these days and work great when charging with either solar or mains.
1. Add the 8 batteries to the battery holder
2. Next stick some Velcro to the bottom of the battery holder and stick to the inside of the torch.
3. Attach the 9v battery terminal to the end of the battery holder
Step 12: Adding the Strip LED's
I wasn’t sure what to add here until I came across some strip lights on eBay. These have a diffuser on them and are made from aluminium. Easy enough to cut if necessary and look really good in the torch
1. Remove the piece of reflector inside the torch – you won’t need this.
2. Trim if necessary the strip lights and glue into place.
3. In regards to the wires, I ran these through small channels in the underside of where the LED’s attached. You will also have to attach the ends together- so positive to positive and negative to negative.
4. Once you have the wires attached (use some solder to keep them together), fasten the negative to the dimmer terminal and the positive to the left pin on the switch. Attach another wire from the middle pin to the positive section of the dimmer terminal.
Lastly, you will want to add the LED to the front of the torch. Initially I added a 10w LED to the front which was very powerful. Problem was it got very hot as well and I didn’t have a heat-sink to use. Looking through my parts bin I found a 12v led used for small downlights. Although it’s not as powerful, it still does a great job, and it doesn’t get hot.
1. Mod the front of the torch to enable the LED globe to fit tightly in the section. You may have to hot glue into place if necessary.
2. Test which is the positive and which is the negative and solder on appropriate coloured wires
3. Solder the negative straight to the perf board.
4. The positive wire needs to be soldered to the right hand side pin on the switch.
That’s it! Screw the torch back together; making sure nothing is getting squashed inside. Oh before you do this you should test everything to make sure it works. If not, go back through the wiring on that section and see where you have made a mistake. Don’t worry if something doesn’t work first go – I always have to go back and logically think about what I have done in order to find the root cause of the issue. Hopefully you were testing as you went and discovered any issues prior to the final solder.