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Wind-Triggered Lantern

An LED, a feather, and a spring.

Wind-Triggered Lantern

Create a little magic in your yard with this flickering garden lantern triggered by the wind, made with spare parts you probably have lying around your house.

Steps

Step #1: Attach the LED to the battery.

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Wind-Triggered Lantern
  • Solder one of the LED’s leads to the battery holder. I got the battery holder for the flat 3V button cell battery from an old PC that I’ve been scavenging parts from. (It’s the battery that powers the internal clock, and I guess every PC has one.)
  • You don’t need a battery holder at all — you could just tape one of the LED’s feet to the battery — but a battery holder makes things easier.
  • Remember to test the LED first, so you know you’re attaching the correct lead to the correct side of the battery.

Step #2: Make the flickering mechanism.

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  • Solder a flexible piece of metal to the other side of the battery holder. I happened to have a long, thin spring from the CD-ROM drive of an IBM ThinkPad I took apart a while back; it works great. Another option could be a copper thread or wire, as thin as possible, or a piece of guitar string.
  • Then bend the unsoldered lead of the LED so it curves around the spring without touching it.
  • Attach a feather to the spring with a piece of thread. When the feather moves in the wind, it pulls on the spring, which touches the foot of the LED and closes the circuit — which equals blinking!

Step #3: Hang it in the garden.

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  • For weatherproofing, cut a slit in the lid of a jar and put the feather through it. Fiddle with it until the mechanism moves freely.
  • Use 1yd or so of strong wire to wrap around the jar, to make a “harness” and a handle. Then go out and hang it in the garden (or run around with it, giggling, like I did).
  • Possible improvements: Add a solar cell and battery. Create a prettier casing, perhaps using beeswax? Or maybe even add sound!

Conclusion

This project first appeared in MAKE Volume 17, page 92.