Have Your Camping Cooler Light Up Like Your Fridge When You Open It for $5!

Introduction: Have Your Camping Cooler Light Up Like Your Fridge When You Open It for $5!

About: Special Effects designer, nerd, maker, a monocle and high collared cape away from being a mad scientist.

At night when camping or having a campfire in your back yard. Finding 'your' drinks in the cooler is a pain. You cannot see what drink is yours in the dark of night. Then you freeze your hands fishing around in the ice pulling several out that are not yours. Finally, in pain, you pull your frozen club of a hand out with your drink.

You can put a puck light your cooler but remembering to turn it off after you crawl into your tent or once the party is over never happens. Lets face it, batteries are not cheap. I don't want to buy new batteries each time you use the light and also don't want to be in the middle of the woods, open your cooler and remember that the batteries are dead and that you should have changed them when you got home.

Here is a $5-15min solution to your first world woes.

I do not have a night picture of this working... low light pictures suck... Attached is a snapshot of it working in my kitchen. I am sure you get the idea of it and how handy this little bad boy is

Annnnd... here is a video we have done on this build if you need any clarification on any of the steps

Step 1: What You Need...

Things needed:

  1. Cooler
  2. Puck light from a hardware store or dollar store
  3. Tilt switch from Newark
  4. Soldering iron
  5. Solder
  6. Needle nose pliers
  7. small wire cutter
  8. sharpie
  9. utility knife
  10. Batteries for the puck light
  11. chutzpah!

Step 2: Take the Puck Light Apart and Cut Wire...

First you need to take the puck light apart and tinker with its ticker...

  1. Picture 1 shows the puck light taken apart, it is pretty simple. If you have issues watch the video in step one.
  2. Next you need to cut one of the wires to the battery right close to the solder joint. CUT ONE WIRE NOT BOTH!

Step 3: Soldering and Placement of Switch

Now we solder the switch in:

  1. Solder one wire from the tilt switch at the battery terminal. The stiffer of the two wires is best.
  2. Solder the second wire to the lose wire you cut (after stripping the sheath from the end of the wire unless you like the smell of burnt plastic...) to the other wire on the tilt switch
  3. Position the switch so that it is out of the way of the cover and at an angle that allows for it to be a closed switch when vertical and open when horizontal

Step 4: Close That Bad Boy Up and Put It in the Cooler

Before you close up the puck light test it by turing it on. by pressing the little white switch in the middle of the puck light. Then tilt the light up vertically and see if it turns on, rotate the light around its circular axis so the tilt switch bottom, the end of the cylinder that does not have wires sticking out of it, is pointing down. Next tilt the light to horizontal with the LED's pointing down and see if it turns off. Adjust the angle of the tilt switch until you get things to operate right.

Now put the puck down on the table and make note of what is considered up. This is the top part of the light when put in the vertical position where the light turns on. Put the silver cover on the LED's and mark the up position with the handy dandy sharpie.

Put the rest of the puck light back together.

Stick to the cooler lid. On the inside obviously with the 'up' mark pointing up...

Now go party on and not freeze your hands finding your drink and possibly steeling your friends drinks causing animosity in what could have been an epic camping trip or party.


If you enjoyed this Ible don't forget to like it and vote it up the ladder in the Great outdoors contest. PLEASE!https://www.instructables.com/contest/greatoutdoors2014/ .

Share it to your friends on facebook, twitter, or what ever platform your friends hang out on. And lastly take a look at our other instuctaIble's. They are dripping with cool geekyness as well, and totally rock if do I say so myself. Finally check out our website http://MechanicalMashup.tv if you want.

Here is the video we made on the build if any of this is not clear for you.

YouTube video

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    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Yup it's the little things in life that make it good :)


    Reply 8 years ago

    Such a good idea I bought lights like this for my coolers several years ago. For $1 each.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Love this, my mind would have immediately gone to arduino, light sensor, yada yada. So much simpler than my brain could concoct :)


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    My brain could not concoct the code required for such an endeavor so I had to find alternate less coding like ways :)