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.
Projects from Make: Magazine
An LED, a feather, and a spring.
Attach the LED to the battery.
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.
Make the flickering mechanism.
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!
Hang it in the garden.
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!
This project first appeared in MAKE Volume 17, page 92.