Years ago I posted my thought on The BEST LED Flashlights.   Unfortunately a few things have happened since publishing that post:  Read more

The Nifty-Stuff LED Boost Circuit / Joule Thief is a device designed for two purposes:

1) To suck any and all traces of juice from your “dead” batteries.  Read more

I’ve had a lot of fun making up many different versions / modifications of these tap lights (also called touch lights, push lights, closet lights). Over the months I’ve received requests to make custom modified LED tap lights.

I noticed that on the net there aren’t many options available for LED Tap Lights or an LED touch light, etc. All I could find was an LED replacement bulb for a tap light, but it cost $10.00 just the bulb! Read more

Led’s are a great solution when replacing incandescent bulbs in many applications. One problem is that LED’s don’t like changes in voltage & current. For example, the voltage from a car battery can fluctuate quite a bit from 11 – 14 volts and this can be a big problem for an LED.  If you design the LED light for 11 volts then it will become a DED (Dark Emitting Diode) once the voltage jumps to 14 volts. If you design the light for 14 volts it will always be very dim when it is only gets 11 volts. Read more

honda-dome-led-1

This was actually one of the first LED conversions that I did, but I never posted it because I’ve been wanting to re-do it to make it nice and pretty.  The problem is that it works so well that I haven’t been pressed to make any changes.  This being the case I’m posting the modification as it is until I decide to change it. Read more

In addition to the LED tap lights I’ve made, I’ve also received requests for some custom LED lighting applications. I usually use bright white LEDs or the bright blue LEDs for these projects but have many other colors to choose from.

For most of these applications a very special circuit was designed to run the LEDs at a “constant current”. This provides a constant amount of light to the LEDs for a longer period of time and allows the LEDs to run on voltage from 4 volts to 12 volts. This means you can use multiple sources of power… even a car battery! Read more

There are a TON of LED flashlights out there, but this one is my favorite: The Dorcy AAA LED Flashlight

Here are my criteria in rating this flashlight:

  • Price
  • Battery Type
  • Runtime
  • Brightness

The price is a major factor to me because I have a habit of either loosing, braking, or giving away flashlights.

Battery type is super important because I want to use rechargeables, or readily available batteries.

I want the light to be LED based for three reasons: 1) LEDs are just cool! 2) LEDs are more efficient than standard flashlight incandescent bulbs making the batteries last much longer. 3) LEDs are really cool!

Brightness is of course important with any flashlight, but isn’t the most important factor in my overall favorite LED flashlight. I just want to be able to see well enough to get by. I’ve got a rechargeable 1milllion candela spotlight that I use when I really need to see something far away, or something I really want to light up (for example, the raccoons fighting in the back yard).

The DORCY AAA LED flashlight is my favorite LED flashlight because it is a perfect blend of the following:

  • Price – $6 – $8 at Walmart, Target, etc. (The red one below was $5.94 at Walmart on 9/17/04)
  • Battery Type – 1 AAA battery
  • Runtime – About 6 hours on a single battery!
  • Brightness – Pretty bright considering light is produced from a single AAA battery and 5mm LED. Adequate for 95% of my needs.

As you can tell by the majority of my posts on this site I am very concerned with overall value. For the money spent I believe I’m getting a great LED flashlight! It is an inexpensive light that is compact and bright.

Update 4/3/05
While the Dorcy AAA LED light is great for so many uses, I found I needed something with a bit more oomph!  COSTCO TO THE RESCUE!

Costco started selling a twin pack of bright white Luxeon LED flashlights.   They came in a twin pack for $28… that’s $14 a light, and for a Luxeon Flashlight, that’s not bad.

costco-luxeon

Update 2/25/09: See my new post, LED Flashlight Review – AA Models


Buy Pre-Made Tap Lights Here

PROBLEM: The Mini Tap Light puts out too little light and drains too much juice!

SOLUTION: Replace the crappy little excuse for a bulb with EIGHT bright LEDs.

MATERIALS:
4 – bright white 3mm LED’s: 3mm, 3.3V, 30mA
4 – bright blue 3mm LED’s: 3mm, 3.3V, 30mA
1 – Mini Tap Light
8- 20 ohm resistor.

INSTRUCTIONS:First step is to take everything apart and remove the cheap christmas tree light bulb. NOTE: I marked the three pieces, the dome, lid, and base with a marker to make sure I put all the pieces back in the same spot… this WILL help!
Second step was to cut out a thin piece of plastic the size of a half dollar (a little more than an inch in diameter), something like this:

I used a punch to put holes into the plastic and slipped the LEDs into place. I used a hot glue gun to get the LEDs to stay in place and alternated between blue, white, blue… with all the positive leads in the center. I bent all the negative leads into an outer circle and soldered them all together. I soldered a resistor to each positive leg and had them all converge into the center where I soldered them all together. I then soldered some wires from the LED array to the base and switch. Finally I hot clued the assembly to the dome. I guess I could have just stuck it on the base, but I stuck it to the dome so the lights would be right up against the top.


(okay, so I didn’t have 20 ohm resistors and soldered 2×10 ohms together… sue me)
Finally, I put everything back together (remember I marked the pieces for easier assembly)

Below I adjusted the settings on my camera so you could see the LEDs better:

For comparison, here are the two lights side by side. I measured the draw and even though the new LED tap light is MUCH MUCH brighter, the draw is about the same, even a bit less! The original light on the left draws 160 mA while the light on the right was drawing about 150 mA!

About a week after I made this mini tap light LED mod I ordered some industrial strength glow-in-the-dark powder. This stuff glows REALLY bright for about 3 minutes and can last up to 10 hours with pretty decent glow. I decided to put a little on the top of this tap light so I could find it in the dark. I created a little stencil and used clear fingernail polish. I laid on a thin layer of polish, dusted it with powder and let it dry. I did this about 5 times and then put a final “clear coat” over the top.


Here is the finished product:


Below is my Emergency Tap Light Modification: This one uses 4 – 5mm blue LEDs and one flashing red 5mm LED. I bypassed the switch for the flashing LED and resisted the current using a 3.3K ohm resistor and a 15K ohm resistor in series. This brought the current down to something like 1.1 ma draw. You can’t see it flash in the day, but it flashes just enough to find the Tap Light if you are in the dark.I thought this would be a great emergency / power out light since you could find it if the power went off.

My original tap light LED modification: here.Buy Pre-Made Tap Lights Here


I wanted to do a conversion / modification of the flashight I found at the Dollar Tree. I based my mod on this page:
http://lambda10.tripod.com/8led.htm

MATERIALS:
8 – bright White 5mm LEDs:
1 – Dollar Tree 4 – AA Flashlight
8 – 30 ohm resistor.
Misc. wires, solder, etc.

Here is the flashlight prior to the mod.

Here are the LEDs and the resistors all set in place and soldered.

Here is the final assembly ready to go into the flashlight. Looks like something out of The Matrix!

Here is the final light. Unfortunately the 5mm LEDs I used were too tall so I had to cut out the lens to make them fit. It is a bit of a bummer, but I don’t think it will make too much of a difference.

Here are some beam shots:

Order: First Mod, Second Mod, Original Bulb

Footnote: The original bulb was pulling 500ma with 4 NIMH batteries while the 8 LEDs pulled 356ma.

In July 2003 I bought about 120 LEDs and have since been converting everything I can get my hands on. I’m not an electronics buff, but I love to tinker. Below are the very first mods I made:

The LEDs that I work with are the standard bright white or blue LEDs, the specs are:

  • MCD (brightness) between 4k and 7k.
  • 3 mm & 5 mm
  • 3.3 – 3.6 volts
  • 30 maI compared the LEDs I have to the $4.99 ones I got from RadioShack and these seem to be just as good!

Below is a group picture of my first mods… all completed in about 2 hours!

Top left to bottom:

  • 8 AA battery swappable flashlight: I can put a bunch of dead AA batteries in there and use different sets of LED / resistor combos
  • Continuity Tester: Pulled the incandescent bulb and put in a red LED
  • 14.4 v. Makita type light: 4 LEDs in series… not as bright as I’d like, so I’ll have to redo it.
  • 8 LED Coleman lantern mod
  • 2 LED tap light MOD: so when the nieces come to visit I can leave it on all night!
  • 9 V battery clip: Similar to the 8 AA battery flashlight and uses the same connectors / LED / resistor combos.


 

Rob’s LED TestCenter: Since I’m not educated in the ways of electronics I decided to do some trial and error. Below is my testingcenter contraption that allows me to swap different resistors and different loads to see the effect it has on voltage and amperage. It is made from quite a few recycled parts… see if you can name them before scrolling down! :o)

From top to bottom:

  1. Old Fluke multimeter (measuring milliamps)
  2. Newer multimeter (measuring voltage)
  3. My testingcenter contraption… made from:
    1. Recycled PVC to hold 3 AA batteries
    2. Recycled computer power supply port (for multimeter leads)
    3. Recycled computer wires / plugs (to swap resistors quickly)
    4. Recycled computer IDE cable mini-breadboard (pulled the backing off of the upper plug and soldered the connections) allows me to test up to 17 LEDs in parallel)

Mini-mods: I took some old parts and batteries to make a testing flashlight. I first soldered a few LEDs and resistors to the 9v clips… then I ran out of clips. What I did have was more computer parts. I ripped the wires that go from the HardDrive and power LEDs on the front of the PC and realized that the “plugs” where the wires connect to the motherboard are just the right size to plug an LED and/or resister leg into. The middle 9v (blue and red) has one of these plugs, and the two LEDs to the middle left plug into it just fine!

So, what’s the point of these? Well, mostly just to test out different configurations of LEDs and resistors. With the quickly swappable clips and quick plugs from the computer I can use an otherwise dead 9v or a bunch of dead AAs to power my lights.

Here is my newer “tap-light” mod. It has two sets of two LEDs, parallel and serial. I made this because we have nieces and nephews spend the night who like to have a night-light on. This one burns forever and is just the right amount of light. Works great for a nightlight next to our bed when we need one!

Well, that is mostly it for now. I’ve seen some great LED mods here: http://www.candlepowerforums.com but I’m not anywhere close to the skill of many of these guys!

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