Intro: Mail Box Light
This document describes a rapid implementation of an idea that arose from a need.
The idea has room for growth and improvement; and it is by no means complete as presented.
Reaching inside your dark mail box at night can be quite an experience, since you dont know what creepy crawling creature is lurking inside with all your letters. After having a few unpleasant surprises I knew that I had to shine some light on the matter.
I remembered I had a spare solar accent light in my garage that had the potential of resolving my problem.
Step 1: List of Items
*-Solar Accent Light with dawn to dusk light sensitive sensor (any type or model).
*-Rechargeable battery for solar light.
*-Magnetic switch or any other type of momentary mechanical switch.
*-A few inches of low resistance speaker or telephone wire to extend the length of the LEDs wires. The amount of wire depends on the dimensions of your mail box and the way you are going to route your wires. Fig. 1
*-Mail Box cover or lid (any type).
Step 2: Implementation
Remove mail box lid from mail box. (Fig. 2)
Open your solar light (fig. 3) and carefully cut and set aside the LED assembly from the rest of the circuit without damaging any of its components (remember the color code or polarity of the wires). Make sure you keep enough wire on both sides so later on you can splice an extension connection.
The modifications to the mail box lid depend on the type of solar light available, some are suitable for inside mounting others have to be mounted on the outside (this was my case).
Step 3: Puting All Together
Once you decide how to mount your assembly, drill the necessary holes to secure your fixture to the lid and include an extra hole to run the wires coming from the outside. Which ever option you take remember (the obvious) that the solar cells have to be facing the outside in order for the battery to charge and the LEDs to come ON when needed. Choose a location to secure the ON/OFF switch.
Solder one of the low resistance wires from the pc board assembly to the Normally Open connection on the momentary switch. Solder to the Common terminal of the switch a wire to the LED assembly keeping the same polarity of the original accent light.
The remaining open connection has to be soldered directly from the pc board to the remaining LED terminal assembly.
Mount lid to mail box and route all the wires in a way they wont interfere with the postman, run the rest of the wire and LED assembly to the inner top of the box and secure it. How you secure it depends on you but remember to keep it clear from the mail.
Step 4: How It Works
During the day the solar cells will recharge the internal battery, and the LED lights will remain inactive due to the integrated switch on the door keeping the circuit OFF, once the lid is open the switch will turn the LEDs ON for as long as the lid remains open. The battery charge life depends on available daily sun light and the duration of the light ON events. The battery can be substituted by a capacitor.