Intro to Fab 9/11- Homemade Flashlight

Ok, so let me first post about my initial failure with this project while it’s fresh and I’m still frustrated. I read at least 5 blog sites FOR KIDS on how to make a homemade flashlight. I need a kid to show me how to do this 🙂 Here’s the sketch I made after consulting the Internet:

Here’s a knolling post of all of my materials. The wire was even free from a really kind Greenpoint business owner 🙂

I stripped both ends of two pieces of wire and wrapped the exposed ends to the brass fasteners I attached to a paper towel roll:

Ah, simpler times.

Pre-chaos work space.

I used cardboard to hold my little flashlight bulb steady and attached it to one of the ends of the stripped wire with electrical tape:

I taped two D batteries, negative to positive, and attached the other wire to the negative end of the batteries.

I added my paper clip to match up to both brass fasteners to close the circuit and- whew- this is so easy, no mess!

(It’s about to become a huge mess)

I spent most of the night trying to dissect what went wrong, as well as an actual flashlight, to see what I may have missed. I cut open the tube, checked my wire connections, and used way too much electrical tape:

For my own sanity, I attempted to at least make either of my lightbulbs light up by closing a circuit around the two batteries:

I saw a couple of sparks on one end of a battery, but that’s as much success as I achieved tonight. I did notice that my copper wire is a double strand. Could that be affecting the circuit? I’m going to go to the PComp floor tomorrow and try again with single strand wire. Stay tuned…

Day 2

To get inspired (and try a different lightbulb) I went on a field trip to the lighting district. Lighting Plus has closed permanently, according to Yelp, so I found this gem on Chrystie:

I browsed, checked out the number of bulbs I had no idea existed and treated myself to a couple LEDs and flashlight bulbs. I feel galvanized and ready to start this flashlight from scratch.

First, I stripped the ends of much thinner wire, attached both strands to brass fasteners with one end taped to the negative end of a battery and the other wrapped around a lightbulb I bought at the store on Chrystie:

I had a circuit at this point, but the connection was loose. That’s when Nicolas stepped in and graciously taught me how to solder (thank you!).


It’s hideous but it works! I think the obvious lesson I learned in this assignment is that I’d better get used to failing, frustration, and that it’s going to break a gazillion times. After it began to get messy, I tried to settle into the uncertainty and just enjoy the process of making something with my hands. And I’ll admit, when that circuit does light up for the first time, you are pretty damn proud. Also, whoever reads this monstrosity of a blog post all the way through should be proud as well (thank you!).

One thought on “Intro to Fab 9/11- Homemade Flashlight

  1. Ben Light says:

    Nice work. And don’t worry, having something not work the first time is pretty much the process. You will try many ideas and have many attempts at getting something to work.

    I like the use of cardboard as the body. And I like the lightbulb and big batteries, very old school flashlight.

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