Day 54 @ ITP: Intro to Fab

Week 1, Assignment #1:
Make a flashlight.

Some flashlight inspiration
1) Video: 



I researched three different ways of making a flashlight (links and video above). I initially wanted to follow the one with a clear tube that shows the electronics and solder my own battery pack to an LED. Then I looked at one that used an older fashioned 3V bulb and two D batteries. But after realizing how I would have to acquire or buy some parts to do either of these, I ended up going for some hybrid of the three, to create one that wouldn't require buying anything I didn't already have and could be made by recycling things I had in my closet or around my house (of which there are plenty, though I have kept some stuff around to potentially use or recycle). I took apart an old cheap plastic flashlight and inspected how it worked. This one worked very similarly to the project with the two D batteries and the 3V bulb. It used a copper attachment to create the switch that connected the batteries for the light to turn on. I also took apart an old bike light meant to go on the front of a bike's handlebars like a mounted flashlight, which I had not been using, and took out the battery compartment attached to the LEDs, which worked similarly to the one required for the tutorial with the clear tube. I decided to use this as my light instead as it was basically garbage to me as it was, and the LEDs were already wired to the battery pack and working, so I could use it for this project.

I used a paper towel tube to create the handle of the flashlight, cutting it down a bit and retaping it together with electrical tape. I wrapped the cardboard tube around the battery pack so that it would be held in place, further securing it by taping it down with electrical tape, and cut a hole in the tube to access to the pushbutton on on the battery pack. Voila! A flashlight. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos at this point of the process, but it was just a paper towel tube cut down to a smaller size and sealed with electrical tape, and the battery pack + LED inside, with a hole for the switch. It was a very rudimentary flashlight. I experimented with putting different filters on the top of it to filter the light, and using mylar as a reflector, and with various parts as tube caps. 


Then I found the YouTube video on making a flashlight using plastic bottles. I remembered I had a green plastic Ginger Ale bottle, then rinsed it out and cut it up to add a green attachment to the top of my flashlight. I stuck the bottle side of the bottle with the cut off part into the top to create a shield for the light. I also used the plastic bottle cap as an end cap, which incidentally fit the tube perfectly. Now it seemed a bit more like a legitimate "design", and I didn't mind the color combinations either, or how the light reflected through the green plastic to cast a greenish glow. I'm still not sure if I will add an additional lens or filter, as the LEDs themselves are almost blindingly bright. However I do think I will use this flashlight, which is a plus!


I realize I should probably manually wire my own LEDs to a battery pack for this project. Before Thursday if I can find time, maybe on Wednesday afternoon, I would like to make another similar style of flashlight but through soldering a battery pack to an LED myself, or if not definitely for a future project. But though it is not super hand made, for this first attempt it seemed efficient to recycle this battery pack from the bike light, as I was focusing more on how I wanted to put it together with what I had rather than on assembling the electronics from scratch. And the research for making this flashlight did help however to understand more how different portable flashlights work and how I could make it work. So I think my conclusion after getting this far is that I will make another one but with my own wiring, using this one as a model for it...the only major design flaw I see with this version it is that it is not easy to disassemble and requires taking off some electrical tape and re-taping it afterwards to put it back together, though it can be done. Also, maybe next time I will use rechargeable batteries.