Hack a Free Flashlight for a Portable Backlit Sign

Caleb Kraft

Senior Editor for Make: I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity of the masses! My favorite thing in the world is sharing the hard work of a maker.

I'd always love to hear about what you're making, so send me an email any time at [email protected]

401 Articles

By Caleb Kraft

Senior Editor for Make: I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity of the masses! My favorite thing in the world is sharing the hard work of a maker.

I'd always love to hear about what you're making, so send me an email any time at [email protected]

401 Articles

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Electronic components like LEDs or LED strips are really cheap now. However, no matter how cheap you’re getting them, they’re not free. Ben Brandt, however, figured out a way to get some nice LED stips for free.

If you’re familiar with Harbour Freight, the low-cost tool depot, you’ll know that they love to give out coupons for free or cheap items when you make purchases. Brandt collected these coupons and received free LED flashlights as he was buying tools and supplies for other projects. On their own, they’re just cheap flashlights, but after some hacking, they are perfect LED strips for use in other things.

Brandt started by ripping apart the flashlight and noting the construction of the LED panel. A few smart cuts and a some solder connections results in an LED strip, ready to use for his backlit sign project.

His wooden enclosure is pretty clever too. I particularly like the way he’s housing his batteries. Even a battery holder can cost a couple bucks, but Brandt just drilled a hole in some wood to get the job done. After harvesting the terminal ends and the the on/off switch, brandt had the full circuit necessary to make a portable backlit sign, at zero additional cost.

Be sure to check out Ben’s youtube channel for more fun projects.