• Son Luu

Flashlight for My Grandma


The initial inspiration for my very first DYI project of a flashlight came from a story featured in National Geographic of Sep 2018. The story was about Katie Stubblefield who went through a four year process of face transplant, giving her "a second chance at life." The idea ended up falling apart after I realized I didn't have all the materials I needed for such big idea project and my choices of material were not good to execute the project. I wasted 4 hours of work with hand-drill, and wood, and soldering a series of 14 LED lights together to make the shape of a face. I scrapped everything and started fresh. This time, scaling down my aspiration, my new idea came from Ben - my Fabrication professor's story about him making a flashlight as a gift to his grandma. The flashlight barely worked but was treasured by her for the rest of her life. He found it again after she passed away and showed it to us in our first class. With the materials I had left and was able to find in the junk shelf, I decided to make a new version of the flashlight but with some kind of added feature.



AA battery holder was sold on Amazon. The rest of the material was found at the ITP shop and junk shelf



Drill a hole in the middle of the wood piece to let the LED go through.

Solder longer wires to the (+) and (-) ends of the LED so I had more to work it. Then, I solder the appropriate ends to the switch and the batteries.

Make sure to have a closed circuit.

I decided to not use any hot glue or tape to keep everything together. I wrapped around everything with electric wires found at the ITP shop. The wires last a long time and look a lot better than tape and hot glue.

Adding a bell at the end of the wood piece. The metal bell cover was found by the trash bin in the ITP shop.

And, here it is. A basic LED flashlight that doesn't take up too much battery power with an added feature.

Failure during the process:

After sealing all surfaces, the light didn't work. It couldn't be turned on. It took me about 30 minutes to inspect and diagnose the root cause. But, I wouldn't have known for sure what the reason for the failure was until I took everything apart. This process took a long time and wasted a lot of material I had already used and now had to replaced. It was a short circuit due to the positive and the negative wires touching each other from the space inside the enclosure which was very tight. I was forced to take the wires out, separate them, find a goo enough position for them to not touch each other and then sealed it off with hot glue.

Failed Attempt with Initial Idea:

The initial idea took a job of soldering 14 LED lights. I had to give up the idea because there was not enough energy source to power a series type connection of all the LED's. In addition because there were too many lights, it would have been too difficult to diagnose any short circuit issues without looking into every single connection. The piece of wood was also too thin and fragile. By drilling too many holes in very close proximity from each other, I ended up cracking the sheet of wood.


It was a fun project. I learned to be more efficient with hand drill and choosing the appropriate sizes of drill bit. In addition, the choice of wood material is also very important depending on what is planned to be accomplished. I also learned to check all the connections of electric wires and the paths they go through several times before putting them in place and sealing them off inside an exclosure, especially if wiring problems, if any, cannot be seen easily from the external view of the enclosure. And last but not least, hope for the best and prepare for the worst by getting extra material, tool replacements, and back-up ideas.