This is my all time favorite camping lantern I made this lantern and so can you. It's simple it's cheap and it has the best beam diffusion I've ever seen on any camping lantern.
Step 1: For Easy to Follow and Best Visuals.
In the above video you will see a quick and simple step by step instruction for building the lander. For those of you who prefer written/picture for, follow me--------->
Step 2: Parts List
The parts list for our camping lanternis pretty short. The things that we’ll need are:
2. An LED or LEDs, I’ll be using three batteries so I’m gonna use 3 LEDs.
3. A piece of aluminum for a heat sink. You could get some flat bar from the hardware store just whatever you have laying around. I will be using aluminum sheet metal.
4. A switch. I want to use a dimmer switch so I ordered this PWM Control.
5. A diffuser we’re going to use this chocolate icecream bucket.
I know some of are thinking right now. "Dude seriously", but I’m telling you the beam will be spectacular!
Step 3: Cut the Heat Sink
I marked a circle on the sheet metal using a piece of string and then cut it out and sanded the edges smooth.
Step 4: Attaching the Parts.
Using thermal epoxy I attached the 3 LEDs and 3 battery holders. I also laid down a one ohm resistor too. This is added to reduce the maximum current to the LEDs.
Step 5: The PWM
Next I marked the holes for my PWM to sit and also ran the screws through the center of each battery adapter ( the epoxy keeps them from spinning since there was only one screw hole).
Using 4-40x 1" screws I made stand offs for the PWM control.
How to solder
Step 6: Solder It Up.
In a 3 series pattern I soldered the wires in. At this time I also checked the max current to the LEDs and found that I had 1.75 amps which was still too high so I added 2 more of the 1 ohm resistors in series to bring the max down to about 850ma.
Step 7: Attaching to the Bucket
For this I used some spray glue, and then also a few screws from the bottom side for strength. A holed was drilled in the side of the bucket for the PWM control knob.
Step 8: Beam Shots
The first picture is a control shot. The diffusion on this lantern is the best I've ever seen. I think its much softer than even the store bought lanterns that use florescent bulbs. Having total control over the output via the PWM is a nice feature too. It makes for some super long runtimes.
Step 9: Alternatives
If you don't want to go to the trouble of building the complete lantern you can make a simple one by cutting a hole in the top for a flashlight, or strapping a head lamp to the side.
Step 10: Thanks for Watching.
For more indestructible like this be sure to follow me.
Others you might like.
Water cooled LED flashlight
5,000 Lumen LED Maglite Conversion