Toothbrush Goes From Mouth-Whitening To Room-Brightening

Some of the hacks we see make us wonder why they aren’t already a commercial product, and this electric toothbrush turned rechargeable flashlight is one of them. Sure, these things exist, but we haven’t seen one with a dedicated charging stand. They usually just take micro USB or whatever, so it’s on you to remember to plug it in. How great would it be to have a fully-charged flashlight always at the ready, especially one in a position to illuminate the room? Although [wannabemadsci] makes it look easy, this conversion took quite a bit of doing.

Perhaps the most amazing part is that [wannabemadsci] found a halfway decent flashlight at the dollar store. Better than average, this thing has a main light, a side light, and takes 3xAAs instead of a couple of AAAs. The only issue is that the toothbrush batteries don’t quite put out enough voltage for the flashlight’s LED, so [wannabemadsci] used a booster board.

Of course, there’s a lot more to this hack than sawing off the USB connector from the boost converter so it fits. The toothbrush handle had to be modified to accept the flashlight guts, and the threads relocated from the flashlight. Since the battery charge indicator shines through the momentary button on the toothbrush, [wannabemadsci] wanted to reuse it, but it required a small board that converts it to a latching push button. Finally, the flashlight bezel had to be painted white. Paint is such an easy thing to do, and this detail makes all the difference in how professional this looks.

There’s a lot you can do with a functioning electric toothbrush as your base, like brute-forcing the pins of a lock with vibration.

Non-Contact Probe Works Better With A Little More Complexity

Non-contact voltage probes have been around a while and some test equipment now has them built-in. This is one of those things that you probably don’t think about much, but surely it isn’t that hard to detect AC voltage. Turns out there are a lot of circuits floating around that can do it and [nsievers51] tried a bunch. Many didn’t work very well, but the best used a 4069 CMOS hex inverter. A dollar store flashlight provided power, a case, and an LED and the result was a good-looking and effective probe.

The circuit came from the Electronics Library website and is fairly complex for this sort of device. The CMOS inverters have a high input impedance so they pick up the weak signal. Instead of directly driving an LED, two inverters form a ring oscillator that generate pulses around 1 kHz. At that frequency, the LED appears to be on, but battery consumption is less severe. A single 2N2222-style transistor drives the LED.

We’ve seen a number of variations on this tool in the past. Many of them only use transistors.

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big LED flashlight

Own The Night With This Ludicrously Bright DIY Flashlight

If you’re a flashlight person, you know that there’s little you would do to get the brightest, most powerful, most ridiculous flashlight possible. You might even decide to build yourself a ludicrously powerful flashlight, like [Maciej Nowak] did.

If you choose the DIY route, be warned that it’s probably not going to be a simple process, at least if you follow [Maciej]’s lead. His flashlight is machined out of aluminum rounds, all turned down on the lathe to form the head of the flashlight. The head is made from three parts, each of which acts as a heat sink for the five 20-Watt CREE XHP70 LED modules. The LEDs are mounted with care to thermal considerations, and wired in series to DC-DC converter that provides the necessary 30 V using a battery pack made from four 21700 Li-ion cells. The electronics, which also includes a BMS for charging the battery and a MOSFET switching module, form a tidy package that fits into the aluminum handle.

The video below shows that the flashlight is remarkably bright, with a nice, even field with no hotspots. Given the 45-minute useful life and the three-hour recharge time, it might have been nice to make it so anywhere from one to five of the LEDs could be turned on at once. Some interesting effects might be had from switching the LEDs on sequentially, too.

Given the proclivities of our community, it’s no surprise that this is hardly the first powerful flashlight we’ve seen. This one broke the 100-Watt barrier with a single COB LED, while this ammo-can version sports an even higher light output. Neither of them looks much like a traditional flashlight, though, which is where [Maciej]’s build has the edge.

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101 Uses For An Everready — Flashlight History

For some reason, I’m always interested in why things are called what they are. For example, I’ve been compelled in the past to research what Absorbine Senior is. Not that it is important, but Absorbine Junior is a smaller size of horse liniment, so you don’t have to buy a drum of ordinary Absorbine just to rub down your sore thumb. So it isn’t a mystery that I would find myself musing over why we call a flashlight a flashlight.

You don’t think of a flashlight as flashing, under normal circumstances, at least. Turns out the answer lies in the history of the device, its poor beginnings, and our willingness to treat imperfect components as though they were much better than they are. That last point, by the way, still has ramifications today, so even if you aren’t a fan of flashlight history, keep reading.

Portable Lighting

Ever since people learned to use fire, there’s been a desire for portable lighting. Torches, candles, and even oil lamps have all had their place. But burning things for light in small cramped spaces leaves a lot to be desired. It isn’t surprising that people quickly turned to electricity when that seemed to be feasible.

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100% Printed Flashlight: Conductive Filament And Melted-in Leads

Conductive filament isn’t an ideal electrical conductor, but it’s a 3D-printable one and that’s what makes [Hercemer]’s 3D-printed flashlight using conductive filament work. Every part of the flashlight is printed except for the 9 volt battery and LEDs. Electrically speaking, the flashlight is a small number of LEDs connected in parallel to the terminals of the battery, and turning it on or off is done by twisting or loosening a cap to make or break the connection.

The main part of the build is a 3D-printed conductive cylinder surrounded by a printed conductive ring with an insulator between them. This disk- or pad-shaped assembly forms not only the electrical connection between the LEDs and battery terminals, but also physically holds the LEDs. To attach them, [Hercemer] simply melts them right in. He uses a soldering iron to heat up the leads, and presses them into the 3D-printed conductive block while hot. The 9 V battery’s terminals contact the bottom when the end cap is twisted, and when they touch the conductive assembly the flashlight turns on.

Anticipating everyone’s curiosity, [Hercemer] measured the resistance of his conductive block and measured roughly 350 ohms when printed at 90% infill; lower infills result in more resistance. You can see a video of the assembly and watch the flashlight in action in the video, embedded below.

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Emergency Torch Runs Without Batteries

It’s always good to have a torch on hand for emergencies. Unfortunately, sometimes these torches can be forgotten, and wind up with dead batteries when you need them most. For those cases, this build from [techrallyofficial] is just the ticket.

Instead of a battery, the torch relies on a 1.5 farad supercapacitor to store energy. The body of the torch is constructed out of PVC pipe and fittings, and packs strong neodymium magnets inside. A coil of wire wrapped is formed around an old solder spool, which, when shaken past the magnets, generates a current. This is rectified with a series of diodes and charges the supercapacitor, powering the light.

It’s a classic design that is available commercially, but it’s one easily replicated in the home shop, too. It would make a great educational project, particularly as students would be left with a useful device to take home at the end of the lesson. We’ve seen others resurrect commercial builds with upgrades, too. Video after the break.

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A Supercapacitor Might Just Light Your Way One Day

Sometimes the simplest hacks are the most useful ones, and they don’t come much simpler than the little supercapacitor LED flashlight from serial maker of cool stuff [Jeremy S. Cook]. Little more than an LED, a supercapacitor, USB plug, and couple of resistors, it makes a neat little flashlight that charges from any USB A power socket and delivers usable light for over half an hour.

It’s neat, but on its own there’s not much to detain the reader until it is revealed as a “Hello World” supercapacitor project from an article in which he delves into the possibilities of these still rather exotic components. Its point is to explore their different properties when compared to a battery, for example a linear voltage drop in contrast to the sharp drop-off of a chemical cell. In the video below the break we see him try a little boost regulator to deliver a constant voltage, with consequent severe loss of lighting time for the LED. It’s by this type of experimentation that we learn our way around a component unfamiliar to us, and the article and video are certainly worth a look if you’ve never used a supercapacitor before.

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