Make: Projects

Solder a “Draailampje” Mini Flip Light

Turn them upside down, and they’re off. Turn them back up, and they’re on.

  • By
  • Time Required: 15–30 Minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

Light_Jar_Baker

This article first appeared in Make: Volume 41.

This article first appeared in Make: Volume 41.

This cute little self-contained lamp works like a charm — set it right side up to turn the light on, flip it upside down to turn it off again. I call it the draailampje — that’s Dutch for “flip light.”

While most jars will work, I find a small, hexagonal jar to be particularly pretty. My first containers were mini jam jars from a hotel. Now I use 47mm hexagonal jars, which I buy in bulk.

Making a flip light is easy and fun — great for nontechnical people or first-time solderers, it makes for a perfect workshop or classroom activity.

Steps

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Step #1: Test the LED

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  • Identify the negative (–) and positive (+) leads of the LED. The negative is usually the shorter of the 2 legs, but here's how to be sure: Slip the coin cell battery between the leads. If it doesn't light, flip it over. When it lights, the negative lead is the one touching the negative (–) side of the battery.
  • Put a kink in the negative lead if necessary, so you can find it later.

Step #2: Prepare the battery holder

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Use pliers to fold the legs of the battery holder flat, toward the outside.

Step #3: Solder the LED

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Solder the negative lead from the LED to the negative (–) lead from the battery holder.

Step #4: Solder the tilt switch

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  • Solder one leg of the tilt switch to the positive (+) lead of the battery holder and the other leg to the positive lead of the LED. Depending on the switch you're using, this may require some bending.
  • You can use a helping hands tool but I just use a bit of kneaded-rubber eraser to hold the components while I solder.
  • Clip off any excess leads.

Step #5: Add the battery

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Solder a “Draailampje” Mini Flip Light

Insert the battery in its holder, and flip the lamp assembly upside down to test the on-off action of your LED and tilt switch.

Step #6: Mount battery holder to jar lid

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Glue or tape the lamp battery holder to the jar lid, bending the LED and switch leads if necessary.

Step #7: Two ways of making

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Solder a “Draailampje” Mini Flip Light

NOTE: There are 2 ways of mounting this type of tilt switch: you can simply solder the leads, as in the example on the right, or you can strip part of the switch's coating and also solder the switch body to the battery lead for extra strength, as in the example on the left.

Step #8: Use your draailampje

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Solder a “Draailampje” Mini Flip Light

Next to the bed, at the campsite, in the rain — this handy lamp has many uses. And the light will remain bright for 5 days and nights of continuous use — just replace the inexpensive battery when it starts to dim.

Step #9: Going further

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  • Why not upgrade your draailampje? Try adding a slow-fading multicolor LED, or making it solar powered or rechargeable.
  • Let us know what you do with your flip lights in the comments, below!
David Bakker

David Bakker

David Bakker is a maker at draailampje.nl, organizer of the second Groningen Mini Maker Faire, and a writer.


  • wazzup105

    Add a joule thief to really make the most out of (old) batteries ?

    • Jessica Henricks

      Great idea!

  • Neil Hendrick

    What kind of putty are you using? I assume it holds small parts so you can solder them without burning down the house?

    • Jessica Henricks

      You got it. The putty holds everything just where you want it. Some folks love their “helping hands”, but for most of my small soldering projects, a putty like Blu Tack can’t be beat.

  • Jim

    I know a couple of youngsters who will love these.

  • Johnny Gnash

    Very cool little project! Simple, inexpensive, and kinda beautiful. Interesting use for a kneaded eraser too.

  • A great holiday project for kids and adults just getting started on soldering. Given the beginner nature of the project, a parts sourcing list would be helpful:

    Tilt Switches (50 pcs) : http://goo.gl/YPpB42
    Tilt Switches (10 pcs) : http://goo.gl/cZ9N13
    CR2032 Holders (10 pcs) : http://goo.gl/NfP0RK
    CR2032 Batteries (10 pcs) : http://goo.gl/LBniCA
    Mini Glass Jars (6 pcs) : http://goo.gl/3cVn0a
    10mm White LEDs (10 pcs) : http://goo.gl/dXBGcA
    10mm Slow Changing RGB LEDs : http://goo.gl/ujVl0z
    0.5 inch Foam Tape : http://goo.gl/psH82w

    Hope this helps.

  • Hemant Kamalakar

    Thanks for sharing this project.

    Here is another version of the Ultrabright LED Emergency Lamp (Rechargeable!)
    http://www.instructables.com/id/Ultrabright-LED-Emergency-Lamp/

  • Jakob HV Dyhl Nielsen

    Add a solar cell to the top of the lid and make it so that the light turns on when the lid is on the bottom; voila, unlimited draailampje!

    • Adaline C

      How you add the solar cell and make it so that the light turns on when the lid is on the bottom

  • Matt Weaver

    I just did this today with my daughter who is getting into soldering. We chose a jar that was too large, but it’s obviously easy to transfer the project to something smaller. We plan on making more of these. Great project.

  • TonyC

    Great thanks for the tutorial. Heres my attempt at a slow colour change version https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1ljyuEfZ1-SNlpIbFNnRmI0NjA/view?usp=sharing