[FAB] A1: Flashlight, or the Importance of Planning

Assignment

Build a flashlight using any tools or techniques you’d like.  I’m defining a flashlight as:

portable
creates light


I’ll be pretty forgiving of these rules as long as it lights up.

Approach and inspiration

At first I wanted to make a remote like flashlight made out of wood. I even cut out a piece of wood out of an old wooden pallet laying around ITP (shout out to Lanni who had the same idea and she gave me my first coin battery). I don’t know I just felt like something “natural” or “rustic”. Once I prepared my wooden remote, I had no idea what to do with it next. There was no passion. The thing that did give me passion was a cork from a wine bottle of Bordeaux (my favorite type of red wine).

The “idea”

So, ok, I have a cork. What should I do next? Wait, how do flashlights work again? Ah, ok, I got my LEDs and a battery. Wait what, I just connect the anode and cathode of an LED to a coin battery and that’s it? I don’t need anything else? Well, ok cool I guess I am done. Let’s just use the pressure from hands and be done with it.

The first idea, a cork flashlight.
The pressure exerted by the fingers on both ends of the cork allow for the LED connect to the battery and therefore turn it on.
The idea

Improvement and first failure

In a way I was done, but I was not satisfied. I knew what could be done. I saw some other examples and they were really cool. At the same time I knew my potential. I knew I could do a little more, I knew it wouldn’t be amazing, but I knew that I should try a little harder. The next logical step is a button. Where do I get one? I got lucky and got so many materials from the very kind Yen (spelling?). He provided me with a few batteries and a loooong strip of double sided tape. I found a button and here is the result:

Well, the button didn’t work. Yen suggested a bigger button and provided me with it. I am so lucky and grateful. But before I would proceed with connecting everything, I decided to sketch out my schematic. And it worked! Having a written plan helped me out a lot actually. More than I’d like to admit. It’s a basic circuit, but having a reference image helps a lot.

The next step would be putting it all together in a cork. The battery was already glued onto it, so the only part that was left is to put in the button. I used a variety of tools to basically make an opening and the natural tightness of the cork kept the button in place. After I reconnected all the wires a big problem arose. A problem that took me two hours to solve. I would press the button, but it just wouldn’t work without extra pressure.

And to be honest, I couldn’t figure it out. I needed to finish the project and I needed to find a way. Soldering it together came to mind, but it was late and I am not experienced. So after multiple failed attempts with various types of tape I found a paper clip. They naturally hold bunch of papers together and I thought that that kind of pressure should be enough. And it was! To complete the tightness I applied some hot glue so that nothing goes loose. Here is the final product!

The final product.

Final thoughts

I am not going to lie, this was challenging. What I envisioned worked, but how I got there can be improved greatly. For one, I think soldering things together would be super useful. The “casing” can be better too. Instead of putting wires on the outside and all it would be better to hide everything inside a shell of some sort. It would be much prettier and sturdier probably. Time to learn more things.

I do have to admit that learning through trial and error is quite satisfying. I have little patience for videos and tutorials (especially when their materials don’t match mine). I will definitely have some questions in the next class.

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