How to create a flashlight using an old tic-tac container, 3 ni-mh aaa batteries, and about $1.50 in parts.
Please note that not only is this my first instructable, but I did this with absolutely NO planning whatsoever. It was more of a "Hey, I wonder if I could build that" kinda idea more than anything else.
So yours will probably look and work better.
Step 1: What You Need
Solid core wire, 22 to 18 gauge. You can find this at Radioshack
Popsicle sticks. These are at craft stores
On/off switch. I cannibalized this off of an old solar lamp, but Radioshack has them
3 Ni-MH batteries. And yes, they do need to be Ni-MH (because Ni-MH is 1.2 volts as apposed to 1.5 volts). Again, I would recommend Radioshack
small Tic-Tac container. find these at your local corner store
White LED. I like THIS store, because it has free shipping. I bought 100 white LEDS for $8. And you can NEVER have too many LEDs
Super glue. I would check "The Home Depot" for this.
Tin Snips (scissors work, but tin snips make it amazingly easy to cut through Popsicle sticks
wire strippers. I ended up not using these
hot glue gun
heat sink (to use while soldering LED)
Tools and supplies not in picture:
drill-bit the same diameter as your LED
hot glue sticks
about 1-2 hours of free time
Step 2: Starting Work: the Cap
After you have eaten all of the Tic-Tac's (or thrown them away), you can begin.
Start by drilling a hole that is the same diameter as the LED into the lid on the side opposite from the dispenser.
If your hole is to small at first (as mine was), wiggle the drill bit around until the LED fits.
once you have the hole for the LED, on the dispenser side of the lid, mark how much space you need to clear out for the switch.
I was using a slide switch, and so I needed a large hole. I marked where I needed to cut using a sharpie, and then drilled it out with a Dremel tool. (see pic) I then cleaned up the somewhat ragged hole using a nail file.
After you have a hole for both your LED and your switch, it's time to put them in. I noticed that the switch wouldn't fit because of the screw hole, so I had to cut it off using the wire cutters. I then put super-glue [gel] onto it and put it in. After the super-glue [gel] had hardened for a minute, I went ahaid and hot glued it in nice and tight. then I repeated the process for the LED, minus the super glue. When both were in, I stripped one of the wires to the switch and soldered one of the leads from the LED to it. After it was cool, I clipped off the excess and pushed it all the way down into the cap, and filled the cap almost all of the way up with hot glue (leave about 1/4 of an inch of space).
to finish off, I super-glued the cap shut so that it would be easier to get off the body, and then I used a 3 volt power supply to test the whole setup.
Step 3: Now for the Body
I started off by cutting a length of Popsicle stick to the width (or length?) of the bottom of the Tic-Tac container. But when I tried to put it in I noticed that there is a bump in the bottom of the container that prevents it from sitting flat. To fix this, I simply cut another Popsicle stick to the length of the bottom, and then cut it in two and trimmed the parts to fit on either side of the bump, enabling the other piece to sit flatly on top of it. Then I hot glued them together.
You'll notice that the batteries have slack space on either side of them when sitting in the container. I rectify this by putting Popsicle sticks in between the batteries. But then there wasn't enough space, so I trimmed them to about 1/3 of an inch. there is a slight notch in one of them, which will be used to connect two of the batteries together.
I got about seven inches of wire and stripped it, and then coiled most of it around a pencil tip to create a spring for the negative terminal of one of the batteries to sit on. I coiled the rest of it around a different pencil and hen flattened the coil for the positive terminal of one of the batteries to sit on.
I also stripped about 6 inches of wire and coiled one end for a positive terminal of one of the batteries to sit on, and because of the height differential, had to put another Popsicle stick underneath it. I then put it on one of the side spots for a battery to sit (see pic). I put hot glue underneath all of the metal things, and secured them on.
then, because my case had started to crack a little, I wrapped the whole thing in electrical tape to make sure it didn't break. It had been my intention to cover it when I was done, so I just decided to go ahead and do it now.
Step 4: Finishing Up
Then there's the problem of how to connect the last two batteries, and how to connect the remaining lead from the LED to the circuit. I made another one of the wire things to connect two batteries together, and then put it in the cap of the Tic-Tac container. I have no sage advice on how to position it, but once you've got it in the right spot, hot glue it in. for the LED lead, I really had no idea, and so I simply sort of bent it out a little, and it touches the positive lead from the battery and works.
Once I had it all working, I quickly taped it all shut so that it wouldn't break.
I know that this is kinda a sucky end, but I was really fed up with it and just decided that since it works, I may as well leave it... for now.
Step 5: Whats Next
When the batteries die (which I estimate is about 40 hours of run time), I intend to fix it to make it easier to replace them.
I have plans to make a Joule thief, and power an LED that way. I have also thought about using a joule thief, Ni-cad battery and a solar panel and making a flashlight that recharges itself, although I would have to use a larger Tic-Tac container for that.
Comments and constructive criticism are welcome, and I hope you enjoyed my instructable.