Introduction: Bat Signal Night Light

About: Hobbist, IT professional, teacher.

So my 11 year old and my mum decided to enter this "Scrap Craft" contest organised by her estate for the school holidays and they had to fill up a form showing what they were going to make. My son drew the Bat Signal (of all things) and weirdly, the management accepted it!

Now as far as I can tell, there are about 30 or more "Bat Signal" Instructables already, so what would make this one different? Well for one, its not meant to be a signal of any sort, its a night light. Either placed on a bed side table for kids as they sleep or if you screw in a wall hanger, you can mount it on the head board.

Oh and the other thing about this project, all the materials were picked out of a dry dumpster - even the led light!


Don't expect you to go dumpster diving, but heres what you'll need:

1) LED lamp (try to get those with a flexible tubing)

2) Pringles (or other chips can with a TRANSPARENT cover - translucent covers diffuse the light too much, but if you like the diffused look, go for it).

3) Not too thick cardboard (something you can easily wrap around a cylindrical object with)

4) Hot glue gun, contact glue, super glue, scotch tape, 3M spray glue

5) Dremmel with cutting, sanding and finishing bits

6) Small nails or screws

Step 1: The Light Tube

Yeah, I didn't know what to call this part, so "The Light Tube" it is!

Using a chips cardboard can, cut out a short length at the bottom and make up the rest of the tube length from the top. You're going to have to join these two pieces together with scotch tape. The reason for using the top and bottom of the can is that the base is typically made out of thin metal and the top, well that has the metal ring that the plastic transparent cover can fit over. Most cans are too long, so you got to cut them down to the size you want, but you need to keep the top and bottom bits, so the only way to do that is to cut and join. Don't worry about the joint line, we'll be covering that up later.

After you have the length you want from the tube, mark out the area on the bottom piece (thin metal) where you will cut so the lamp can fit for the light to shine through.

Using the thin cardboard, cut it to the length of the tube you have and spray it with the 3M spray glue and then wrap it around the tube. That will give a uniform surface and cover the joint line (see pics).

A little black spray paint and the tube is more or less done. Just need to add the trimmings.

Cut strips of thin cardboard about 1 cm in width and the length will be the circumference of the tube. I used two strips glued together to give it a more significant thickness so it stands out, but you can just cut it from thicker cardboard. Anyway, spray those black and glue 1 of the strips to the bottom of the tube (covering the rim of the metal base) and the other to the middle of the tube. You will need to glue the third stirip around the outside of the transparent cover. Put the cover on, and your light tube is complete.

Step 2: The Y Pivot Mount

Yup, didn't know what to call this either.

How you make this, depends on the diameter of the tube you have. Just make sure the distance between the prongs of the 'Y' can fit around the tube (and the trimming you glued on earlier) snugly. Making a template with paper helps a lot.

Once you have the template, cut out a few pieces from cardboard and glue them together. That will give you a thick piece that will be sturdy enough for the tube to pivot on. Get strips of thin cardboard to cover the edges (so you don't see that it has several pieces glued together) and spray it black.

Once the paint is dry, mount it to the centre trimming of the tube using either nails or screws. Make sure the nails/screws don't completely penetrate the wall of the tube, but only just enough to hold it in place and allow the tube to pivot.

Step 3: The Base

The base of the night light will be the base of the lamp.

First things first, you got to dismantle the light so you can cut out the slot for the Y mount.

Use a dremmel to make the slot, makes it a lot easier and you can smooth out the slot too. Don't worry if its a little too big, you can fill it out with hot glue and smooth it out later.

Once done, spray it black (and the rest of the lamp parts too).

Note: This kind of plastic (shiny) is very smooth and so paint typically doesn't stick to it well. What you want to do to make sure it does stick, is to sand the surface down a bit, get the shine off and make it dull, which is what I did in the picture before I painted the pieces. That leaves microscopic scratches in the surface which helps the paint to adhere to the plastic.

When the paint is dry, put the Y pivot mount through the slot and hot glue it down. Make sure the stem of the Y pivot mount is short enough to fit into the lamp base before you hot glue it in place. I didn't check and after gluing found I couldn't reassemble the light. I had to remove all the dried hot glue, remove the mount from the slot and cut the stem and then re-glue it into the slot.

Note: If you don't want to use a lamp like the one I have (with the flexible tube and lamp head) but want to use a lamp that is just flat or in one piece and you just want to stick it to the back of the tube or the inside of the tube, then use styrofoam or several pieces of cardboard glued together to make the base. Just make sure it has weight to it so that the whole thing doesn't tip over from the weight of the tube and lamp.

Step 4: Base Hole

Cutting the base hole where the light will shine trough will require a dremmel with the cutting bit. Best to drill pilot holes around the area where you want to cut through, so its easier to cut.

Once you've cut through, use the sanding bit to smooth the edges out and get it as close to a proper circle as possible.

Note: If you are not using the lamp as a base and just want to stick a small light on the inside of the tube, then there is no need to cut the hole.

All that's remaining is to spray the base. Make sure you stuff the hole you just made with newspaper or something so the paint doesn't end up on the inside of the tube.

Note: If the lamp head you have fits the base completely, then there is no need to spray the base.

Now just hot glue the lamp head with the lights lined up over the hole you made and reassemble the lamp and add one Bat logo cut out to the transparent cover and its finished!

Step 5: The Final Product

And there you have it - one dumpster material Bat Signal Night Light!

Very simple build even my 11 year old had no problem with this.

Because it was a scrap craft project, I had to use cardboard so the finishing isn't exactly what I like, but if it wasn't I'd have used 3mm thick EVA foam for the covering and trimmings which would give a much cleaner finish.

Also don't expect to have the Bat logo shining on a wall at some distance away - most of the lamps typically aren't that powerful and the LED lamps have multiple LEDs all at some uniform distance from each other and this will cause multiple shadows so all you're going to see is a blur on the wall. This is a NIGHT LIGHT not an actual signal!

This is a good holiday project for parents and kids to do together, so I hope you enjoyed making it together from this very simple Instructable and as always, apologies if it wasn't good - cheers!

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