Introduction: Mini Project #8: Mini Distress Signaling Device (Pen Disguise)

About: Hi I'm Alex and I love to make stuff! I mainly work with different metals but I also love to explore new (to me) materials and dabble in woodworking, jewelry, knife making, design and many more.

Hi Instructables Community,
in this weeks Mini Project we are making a Mini Distress Signalling Device (Gadget) that can be disguised as a pen.

If you want to see this device in action I suggest you watch the entire video or use this link to jump directly to the "action" bits.

I got the idea for this project when I was thinking of what items could be crafted when using items from my Pocket Survival Kit or Altoids Survival Kit. I was thinking about how it would be possible to use Mini Light Sticks to a better effect. The concept has been around for some time to use a large Light Stick on a length of cord to create a distress signal that can be seen from the air for some distance. If you swirl the light stick around you create a large circle of light that can be identified from an aircraft at night. You would usually use this if other methods like flares, strobes or smoke can be used or are not available. In addition there are infrared light sticks available that are invisible to the naked eye and are used primarily during military operations at night.

To apply this method to a smaller scale I realized that one small light stick would be not enough and after some trial and error decided to use three light sticks together. The silicone tubes that come in each pack of two are usually used to attach the light stick to your fishing pole. We use them to connect the three light sticks to each other. To protect the light sticks against external mechanical influences I was looking for a suitable container. After some further trial and error I found that Edding Permanent markers (Freeze Markers - 8000 series) have the perfect dimensions to accommodate all parts and are also perfect to disguise the signalling device as an every day item.

Please note that this signalling device has its limitations and should not be relied upon as your sole means of signalling.
• Due to the smaller size the device emits far less light than a regular sized light stick which makes it more difficult to spot even if SAR Teams are using Night Vision equipment.
• Removing the light sticks from their packaging reduces their shelf life
• Please make sure that you keep them out of sunlight to maintain a reasonable shelf life.

If you like this Instructable please vote, fav, share, subscribe & comment. I have just started my own Blog which you can visit here. You can also check my YouTube, Facebook and Twitter sites for current and upcoming projects.

Take care & stay safe

Cheers Alex

Step 1: Materials and Tools Needed

  1. Braided Fishing Line, upholstery thread or something similar

  2. Split Shot fishing weights (I recommend 1.5g - 3g)

  3. 3 Small Glow Sticks of your favorite color (Although I recommend green due to its higher visibility) - 4.5x37mm / 1 1/2" length

  4. An Edding Permanent Freeze Marker

  1. Scissors

  2. Drill with 6mm drill bit

  3. Needle Nose Pliers

  4. Standard Jaw Pincers

Step 2: ​Preparatory Steps

  1. Start by removing the three light sticks from their packages - also keep the two silicone tubes
  2. Measure and cut 60cm / 23" to 1m / 1 yard of braided fishing line
  3. Use the Needle Nose Pliers to remove the felt tip and internal color storage from the marker
  4. Use the pincers to snip of the end of the writing part (see picture for the exact position)
  5. Use your drill to extend the hole to 6mm / 1/4" you can then trim and deburr the cut with a scalpel
    1. (Optional use rubbing alcohol to clean the inside and outside of the marker)
  6. Create figure 8 loops with each end
    1. One loop has to be large enough for your fingers
  7. Attach the split shot to the other - make sure this is done properly or you risk to lose your split shot.

Step 3: Assembly

  1. To assemble the signalling device start by threading the fishing line through the marker tip as shown in picture two. The split shot now rests in the marker tip separated from the rest of the contraption.
  2. Thread the two silicon tubes on the fishing line from the other end and move them to the split shot leaving a gap of approx 5cm / 2"
  3. You can now insert the light sticks into the silicon tubes - Two sticks sharing one tube (Sounds weird doesn't it?)
  4. Now wrap the fishing line around the light sticks (Check the video as I have no proper pic for this) and insert all into the marker case.
  5. Screw the cap back on and you are done.

Step 4: Finished Item and Use

To use the signaling device all you have to do is to unscrew the marker tip, activate the light sticks by snapping them carefully, attaching the loop to one of your fingers and start spinning the entire device.

You should aim towards the sky or towards an approaching aircraft to mark your position. You could also use this for other signalling purposes for example from ground to ground.

If you like this Instructable please vote, fav, share, subscribe & comment. If I have just started my own Blog which you can visit here. You can also check my YouTube, Facebook and Twitter sites for current and upcoming projects.

Take care & stay safe

Cheers Alex

This Instructible has been entered to the Epilog and Make it Glow contests so if you like this project please give me your vote.

Epilog Contest VII

Participated in the
Epilog Contest VII

Make It Glow! Contest

Participated in the
Make It Glow! Contest