Intro: Solar Tent Light
This instructable is about adapting an inexpensive solar powered garden stake light into a light one would use to light up a tent at night. I have already used one such light to light up the area in my basement where my desktop computer is. I use it to light up the area with some ambient light so that one could move around at night without having to turn on other lights. In that application, I de-soldered the LED, installed the main housing on the outside wall and connected the LED to a lead fed into the wall over the area to be lighted up. No switch is installed so the area gets lighted as soon as it is dark outside and stays lighted until the built in rechargeable battery drains out. In winter the light is on for a few hours in the evening. In Summer, I see it on even in early AM hours providing several hours of light.
So, I thought of adding a switch to the stake light and a hanger so that the light could be used as a small solar powered lantern useful for ultralight camping or bicycle touring. The light collects solar energy during the day by hanging from your backpack or bicycle and at night would light up the tent with some ambient light to accomplish minor tasks such as dressing/undressing. The switch is intended to turn the light off so that you could turn it on only when needed, sleep in natural light/darkness and keep it turned off during stealth camping. It will need to be turned on during charging.
Step 1: Materials
Materials needed are as follows.
1. Solar Garden Stake Light = I got one from Walmart, e.g., http://www.walmart.com/ip/9.5-Solar-Powered-Outdoo...
The price shown online is $5 but I had paid $1 for mine last summer at a local store.
2. A small on/off switch. Mine was small slide switch salvaged from a broken amplified speaker.
3. Some solder, soldering iron, etc.
Step 2: Step 2: Disassemble
1. There is a strip of thick paper to be pulled out so that the light becomes operational.
2. Disassemble the light by first removing the stake. We don't need the stake. Save the plastic or metal tubing for some other purpose.
3. Remove the acrylic globe of the light by twisting a few degrees to the left.
4. Remove 3 screws holding the solar cell and the main body together.
5. This will expose the solar cell, charging circuit, battery, etc.
6. The LED is held in place by some hot glue. You may remove that to make handling easier by releasing the cap.
Step 3: Add Hanger
- Now drill 2 holed in the top and use some insulated wire - about 4 - 6 inches - to make the hanger loop. Use knots on the inside to hold it in place. You may do this later, too.
- I installed the switch on the lead coming out of one of the battery terminals. The switch has leads about 2" long so that it was glued to the outside of the cap and the leads fed inside through an existing slot (for the paper strip)in the cap.
Step 4: Reassemble
Now put the light back together using the 3 screws.
Twist on the globe.
Turn the switch on and the LED will light up.
If not, charge it for a few hours in the sun I believe that the switch needs to be on during charging so that the current will flow in to the battery.
The acrylic globe is not really necessary but it seems to protect the LED and the switch.
For true ultralight adaptation, the globe may be discarded or cut in half so that it extends a bit over the LED protrusion to save a few grams in weight.