Introduction: Altoids Can Flashlight

This Instructable is a fun activity that can transform an everyday object into a useful tool and a cool project that can be done in any setting. This project only requires light tool usage, making it ideal for students and children around grades 3-8. All the components can be bought on amazon or at your local radio store, but most come in bulk so be ready to do this with multiple people to get your moneys worth.You can get enough materials for about 24 projects for around 35 dollars through different websites and by shopping around. This project can be used in schools to teach different Standards for Technology Literacy for these grade levels.

Learning Objectives

This project will go over a few different Standards for Technological Literacy, to help students grasp a better understanding oh how and why this works.

Standard 16 - Develop an Understanding of Energy and Power Technologies

D - We use different tools for this project that rely on electricity to run. Using these tools and learning about wiring for themselves first hand will allow students to have a better understanding of how electricity and energy is used in tools and products.

H - Much like generators power homes and buildings, the power coming from the battery pack is providing propulsion to this technological system.

Standard 19 - Develop and Understanding of Manufacturing Technologies

D - This project focuses heavily on combining different pieces of electrical equipment and using tools to combine them in a way to make something unique.

F - This project shows how manufacturing systems can change the form of materials through combining and conditioning them.


2x 5mm White LED Diode Lights

2x 5mm Plastic LED Lamp Holder for Diode Lights

1x 1A 250V AC 2 Pins SPST Push Button

1x AA Battery Holder

2x 150 ohm Resistor 1/2W

2x AA Batteries

22 Gauge Black Electrical Wire

1x Altoids Can


Soldering Iron



Drill bit to match the size of the button and light holders

Wire Strippers

Needle Nose Pliers


Super Glue

Wrench, whichever size you need to fit the hex bolts

Step 1: Mark the Holes and Drill Them Out.

Take the can and sit it on your work space so you can read the tin. Pull out your sharpie and mark two holes on the right side of the tin, level with each other but 1/2" away from each other. Finally take the the sharpie and make a mark on the side of the tin underneath the words on the top of the tin in line with the D in Altoids.

Next take your drill with the appropriate size bit and drill those holes out. Be sure to drill it a few times to get the metal off of the tin. If you have metal that is on the tin from the drilling that did not come off, take the needle nose pliers and pull the remaining pieces off.

Step 2: Put the Light Into the Holder and Insert the Holders Into the Holes in the Tin.

When you get your LED's and the light holders, make sure to open them up and split them into sets to make it easy to set up. Your sets should include one 5mm LED light, one hex nut, one plastic holder, and one metal casing. Once you have these four pieces out insert the light into the metal casing from the hole on the threaded half. After that is inserted into the casing, take the plastic holder and slide it onto the prongs that are sticking out of the bottom, sliding it up and into the metal case with the lip of the plastic holder against the metal. Once these three are together they light should not be able to come out of its holder. Make the second one the same way as the first and insert them into the two holes on the right of the tin. Using an appropriate sized wrench, slide on the hex nuts and tighten them up so that they won't come out.

Once these are tight and secure, rotate plastic holder with the prongs making all four in line with each other to make it easier for future steps.

Step 3: Attaching the Resistors.

After installing your lights, spread the prongs into a V formation to give yourself more room for what happens next. Take out your two resistors, plug in your soldering iron and pull out your solder.

This is the beginning of the harder part of the project, so while the iron is warming up, here are some tips for soldering:

  • BE CAREFUL. Soldering irons max temperature differs depending on the wattage of it, but it usually ranges from 500°F to 800°F.
  • When soldering, you are not melting the solder, you are heating up the wires and then pressing the solder against the hot wires. If you start seeing smoke while applying the solder, remove the iron, it is still heating up and melting it.
  • Don't hold the whole reel of solder in your hand, break off some to make it easier to maneuver and handle.
  • Since we are not soldering wires to a circuit board, it would be easier to have an extra set of hands for this to help hold the wires together.

Now that your iron is hot, take your iron and a piece of solder to attach the resistors. There are different ways you can set this up to make it easier on yourself:

  • Braid the prong and the resistor together
  • Get someone to hold them together with a pair of needle nose pliers (what I did)
  • Use some electrical tape and tape them together

Whichever method you use make sure to start with one of the prongs in the middle. Touch the iron to the two wires and leave it there for a couple of seconds, then touch the solder to the heated area while removing the iron, make sure to coat the heated area with solder. Give this a few seconds to cool down and move on to the next resistor. You should attach the two resistors to the two nodes in the middle of the four.

Once the solder has hardened there, solder the other end of the resistor on the other side of the blue part, it does not have to be at the very end of them, you can do it halfway and snip off any excess. After this dries, your lights will be connected and secured.

Step 4: Add the Button

This next step is simple, insert your button/switch into the last remaining hole and secure it with the attached hex nut, make sure to use a wrench to tighten it up. Make sure to rotate the switch in a way where its connectors are similar to an equal sign when looking directly down over top of it, this will make it easier for the next step.

Step 5: Starting the Circuit

To start this off take your 22 gauge black wire, and cut off two pieces. One log enough to go from the left light prong the the very right prong, while having enough slack to arch near the end of the resistors that was soldered. Then cut your second piece of wire a little under half that long. Next take your wire strippers and clean off both ends to expose about 1/4 of copper wire for both wires.

Take your long wire and, using the same technique you use in the previous step, solder it to the prong the farthest away from the switch. This next solder is going to be the hardest, taking the other end of the wire you just soldered and one end of the other wire, solder them together on the prong closest to the switch. Once those three are completely secured to one another take the last loose end of the wire and loop just the copper part through the hole in the connector of the button. Once you bend that end of the wire into a U shape through the hole, solder it down, be careful not to solder the two button connectors together.

Step 6: Completing the Circuit

The circuit is almost complete, just one more step, attaching the batter holder. Pick up your battery holder and look at the wires coming out of it, they should have some of the wire uncovered but you might need more so take your wire strippers and strip off about 1/4 of a inch.

Take the black wire of the holder and loop it, using the same technique as the other wire, through the empty battery connector and solder it in place. Finally take your red wire and solder it to the spot where the resistors were soldered together in Step 3. Be careful when attaching these together that you attach all three parts together and do not accidentally separate the two resistors. If you do separate them just reattach with all three parts together.

Step 7: Attach Your Battery Holder

Now that your wires are all hooked up and soldered together, insert your 2 AA batteries into the holder and try out your light. Note that there are some things that can go wrong, here are a few things to look out for:

  • No lights turn on. If this happens take a few minuets to look at all of your connections and make sure that they are properly soldered and connected. If it appears that they all are, check your material and make sure your resistors are not too strong.
  • One light turns on. This just means that your other light is just blown, take your iron and reheat the solder to release your wire and replace the light by taking out the plastic cap holding it in place. Once the light and cap are back in, re-solder the resistor and wire to the light the same way it was before and test it out.

Once both lights are working and there are no more problems, use super glue and attach your battery holder in the tin and close the top.

Step 8: Test Out Your New Homemade Flashlight

And voila, here is your new flashlight that you can use anywhere. Test it to make sure it works by flipping the switch on and off a few times and then your done. You can take it to your next outing with friends and show it off, making sure to not be left in the dark.