18650 area lamp from 3aaa cheapie aka "polishing a turd"

these are just long enough with the board moved forward to use 18650.
its a mix of the cheap whites it came with and warm whites.
sanded the front of the tube for good contact and a rough surface for ca glue.sanded the pill bottle for a close press fit.
the 4 i replaced with warm whites got their - leads folded over the board edge and trimmed flush with the top.this takes up the extra diameter and makes the contact.
pressed in level,thin coat of ca on bottle mouth,and press it in.
jb weld 5 minute aplied to outer edge of board on the inside for added strength and some heat conduction.





the phillips thing is a t5 fluorescent tube sleeve.that makes the spacer for the battery.
next one gets a copper disk with a chinese “poor mans nichia high cri neutral”luxeon clone led!

Nice mod. I used to have one of those things in my car, until I saw a cell phone put out more light. Depending on the efficiency of the LEDs, it may be a very nice area light. Very compact and light weight.

well i wasnt satisfied with the light produced vs power consumption.
800 ma and it was anemic.
so i punched it apart again.cleaned out the jbweld and found that with a bit of grinding with a dremel i could make a us quarter a press fit!
yes my new ready made copper(mostly) slug costs 25 cents.
ground a flat on washingtons face and reflow soldered a “nature white” 3w luxeon clone in the center.
drilled a hole for the + at the edge and glued a circle of plastic cut from a old dish smartcard.used a contact from a hf magnet light.
pressed it in to about 3/16ths deep and a thin bead of jb inside.after it set i did the same topside and pressed in my pillbottle.
went from meh to very nice at about 1a on a hot 18650 settling to about 850ma.gets nice and warm but not hot.
looks like the free hf 9led will work for this too.
the ebay 3w nature white is surprisingly good!
now i want some in warm and cool.

well v1.1 is the black hf free 9 led .
had to grind the quarter a bit.
this time i sprayed the bottle with matte clear.
less loss than sanding.a flattop unprotected 18650 just fits with the quarter in 3/16” deep.
plenty to seat bottle at the same time as i jbweld top edge.does double duty.

I made a few of these last summer for hanging around our campsites, in tents, etc. from the cheap $2 lights.
The three, 3-AAA ones on the left have a single warm white LED & resistor, these will run for 10 + hours on even cheap 15-cent Zinc batteries, ( or 25 + hours on rechargables) the smaller three lights on the right have the same LED and a resistor added to their boost drivers, and get 8 hours run time on a single basic AA Alkaline battery.

i doubted i was the first to do this.
i recognise the caps on the right as nozzle protectors for drink bottles.
but what are the rounded ones?
going to make some resistored units for long run too.whats nice is i have some 3 aaa holders with the long snout that will fit.
so if i run out of 18650’s i can fall back to 3 aaa.

the ones on the right are definitely water bottle caps. :slight_smile: the left ones were some random small round spheres i found and cut in two, then frosted them with fine sand paper.

well the perfect diffusers were right under my nose!
i noticed some “paint pots” on the upstairs bench.
these are just short pill bottles ganged on a tree.only issues are i dont know where they came from.they are marked $1.99
and its hard to clean off the remains of the tree after cutting them loose.
its nothing horrible to look at.at 3/4” tall they do the job well and are compact.perfect fit to the i.d of the tube and the jbweld holds them fine.
i rough up the i.d and o.d where it seats to ensure a good grip.
k2 tffc has too low vf to dd.
hits over 2a!
.47 1/2w tames them.
3w luxeon clone ok dd…
“nature white” seems the brightest with k2 tffc 180 lumen@700ma very close.

looking froward to see new photos. :slight_smile:

I used some old frosted plastic bulb on a $3 Ultrafire S5, something like DBSAR’s half dome but I used the whole globe. Fits like a glove, no tape/adhesive needed.

I can’t remember which one exactly but pretty sure the LED bulb was one of the $0.01 promotion offer or something. This is why I try not to miss those :slight_smile:


Very nice turds!

those last pics are of the 3rd rebuild of the prototype where it gets a diffuser upgrade.

I just finished building a dozen more of these using various diffusers and $2 flashlights.

did up 10 more here.
most expensive part being the quarter as a heatsink.
harbor freight freebies.
leds were free as i ordered neutral white chinese 3w leds for a job and got cool white.seller sent the right ones and told me to keep these.
and the batteries are free laptop pulls.
all my neighbors each have 1 or more.
we get lots of power failures due to storms.
one of these held to the ceiling from its lanyard with a tack or pushpin does a lot!

I found some other interesting LED cheapies at the local dollar-store that was shaped like an Incandescent light bulb with a hanging lanyard. I modified them with a better W/W LED and a resistor and they work great on 3-AAA cells for 14 hours.

Yes they are. Someday alkaline batteries will go the way of the buggy whip so these mods wont have to be done.

nice thing about these is they can still be used with 3aaa if you have the holder with the extended + contact.
but even the best aaa are pathetic in these so 18650 all the way!

big lots had a 10 pack of assorted camo patterns for 4.99 on sale.
grabbed the last 3 they had.they work fine in these mods.check local stores.beats playing games to exploit the hf coupons….

Nice find.