I was inspired by this project that used hex nuts to create a small, pocket-sized flashlight. I loved how raw and industrial it looked, but it was missing something. I wanted to create something that was larger and looked more finished, with a better mechanism to turn on and off the light.
Link to original project
- Ben Light
- Michael Simpson
- Sebastian Morales
Below is the list of materials I used for this project.
- 8 5/8″ hex nuts
- 2 3/4″ hex nuts
- 1 5/8″ hex nuts
- 1 5/8″ bolt
- 5 ultra bright LEDs
- 2 AAA batteries
- Electrical tape
- 1 small sheet of 3mm acrylic (white)
- 1 small sheet of 3mm acrylic (clear)
- Copper Tape
- Solder wire
- Red and Black wire
- PLA plastic 3D printer reel
- Small tacile button
- Hot glue gun
- Epoxy (Metal on Metal)
- Hack saw (for metal)
- Soldering iron
- Sanding machine
- Sanding block
- Large clamp
- 3D Printing Machine
- Long, round file
- Laser Printer
I first needed to figure out how to make the batteries fit into the 5/8″ hex nuts. The holders I originally was using were made from plastic and I used the sanding machine to sand them down. I also filed the insides of all the 5/8″ hex nuts to increase the space within the nuts.
While sanding the plastic battery holders down, I was having some difficultly attaching two of them together so that they would be able to be removed as an entire unit. After several discussions, I landed on 3D printing to print a full 2 battery holder. I then sanded that down until it was able to fit within the hex nuts. I found the file to the battery holder on Thingiverse and then printed it out.
For sanity checking, I made sure I was able to still complete the circuit when the batteries were in. Sucsess!
I then cut three pieces from the acrylic: one to hold the LEDs, one with holes just big enough to the lights to poke through and a clear lens cover to provide protection to the unit.
Large circle with holes: .565″ with .130″ holes (same size for the clear circle, without the holes)
Smaller: .5 with .130″ holes
I cut the smaller circle so that it would fit through the entire module when I pulled out the internal battery unit. The larger circle I hot glued into one of the 5/8″ hex nuts. It fit perfectly in there.
I originally was using steel ends for the batteries but switched to copper tape as it was much much easier to handle and solder to.
I then cut the LED legs and soldered red and black wires to the anodes and cathodes, respectively.
After I finished soldering all the wires to the 5 LEDs, I used electrical tape to cover up any open connections.
I then grouped all the positive and negative leads together, soldered then and game then each one common lead to then connect to the circuit.
I then sawed off the part of the bolt I didn’t need, which was about 5 of the 6 inches.
I then wrapped the rests of the open connections in electrical tape after I soldered them to the battery holder and completed the circuit.
After verifying that the connection and light was working, i began to apply the epoxy to the hex nuts and applying pressure to provide a solid contact point for adhesion.
I then took a fine-grain sander and brushed across the body of the flashlight to produce “brushed” effect on the metal.
I thought the project went pretty smooth after figuring out how to implement a switch interally with the bolt. I made several mistakes throughout that I hope to avoid in the future. For one,, make sure that all your wires are properly soldered, because if they are weak, they will break off, which required me to go back, un tapes them, cut the the old wire and reapply the solder to a new wire. I sent through this 3 or 4 times at one point.
Also, make sure the internals of the hex nuts are filed before applying the epoxy. I forgot to file the last one as that was connected to my bolt and had to file that after the epoxy had dried.
3D printing was a fantastic tool that helped bring the internals to life. If I knew how to modify the file within a program, it would have saved me a bit of time from sanding the original piece down to what I needed.
Copper tape was also a great addition, to connect the batteries. Steel does not solder well.
One thing that ended being a real pain was aligning the LEDs to the holes in the end. That was not successful. I should have not placed the cover on the light and shpuld have put the battery inside the light while it dried. I should have also put a string to help pull out the battery/light fixture as it is now stuck in there….forever.