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How to Make an LED Microcope Light from a Flashlight

German Perilla has created a lovely demonstration on how to modify a LED flashlight and make it into a high powered microscope light that can be plugged into an electrical outlet. Comparable to, but much cheaper than, fiber optic lights. Do it!

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How to Make a
 Microscope
    Light
   Pictures and Layout by German Perilla


                                           1
This is the original document regarding converting flashlights to microscope lights. The power point that follows expands on those ideas 
All:
 
As part of building up our lab with scant money for equipment, I have been frustrated about the cost of high quality microscope lights. Even
old fashioned illuminators now cost well over $200.00 and still deliver sub par light compared to that from fiber optic. Recently, I was in a
camping store and was looking at the LED miniflashlights. I noticed that there were now some high intensity 3 watt varieties and picked up a
Gerber LX3.0 (about $50.00) to see if would work as a microscope light. I was impressed with how much light it put out for such a small object
(7.5" X ~1" in diameter at the head). At home I tried it out and it blew away even my inexpensive fiber optic (ecolight).
 
At the office I found that the flashlight fit very nicely into the standard Bausch and Lomb stand's illuminator hole; a little adjusting up and
down and I had all the illumination I wanted.
 
After a while I noticed that the light dimmed as the batteries drained down. I could convert to recharchables, but after reading more about how
these particular flashlights work:
 
http://candlepowerforums.com/vb/index.php?
 
(this is an amazing web site, populated by fanatical flashlight nerds who chat all day about the technical specs of every flashlight known to
mankind, check out the LED forum)
 
I realized that they had a long battery life, but that they did not hold the voltage steady and that light would dim relatively quickly.
 
The solution was to connect it to house current.
 
I had been saving wall cube transformers for years, just in case they would come in handy and it turns out that I had a couple that would
output around the 4.5V the flashlight liked. According to the experts the LED bulbs are pretty tough so you could likely run them up to maybe
6V without shaving too much off their life.
 
Make sure that the wall cube converts AC 120V (input) to somewhere around 4.5V DC and not to 4.5V AC....some convert to the proper voltage
but in AC. I didn't look closely the first time I tried this and I ran the light on AC, which worked OK, but the light shimmied around and was
distracting.
 
To do the conversion take out the batteries and run a wire down to the bottom of the flashlight. I used a dowel to which I added a tiny screw
to one end and then attached a wire to that screw and tightened it. Be careful to not let any of the wire touch the wall of the flashlight or it will
create a short. I then taped the wire to the dowel and ran the whole thing to the bottom. For the return, I ground off some of the
nonconductive anodized finish, and simply taped the end of another wire to the body. I cut the end of the wall cube off and attached the wires
to wires coming off of the light. If your first try doesn't work then switch the wires as the polarity may be wrong (this is not supposed to be
healthy for the LED, but mine survived). You can then put a switch in the line if you want, or simply plug and unplug the wall cube.
 
I imagine that price and variety will lower the price on these flashlights soon too.
 
Have fun.
 
sam

                                                                                                                                                        2
Parts and Tools Required to Make a
Microscope Flashlight Holder (2008 Prices)

              One Microphone stand adapter
              Where to find it: RadioShack
              Price $6.29
              Reference 3300372
              Joseph F. Metzger, Jr’s Idea




              2 ½ pound weight
              Where to find it: Sports Authority
              Price $2.48
              Reference 18694314


                                                   3
Parts and Tools Required to Make a
  Microscope Flashlight Holder
A   B



         ½’ 45°Bell end elbow
         Where to find it: Home Depot
         Price $0.88
         Reference UA7ADB-CTN(25)




                  Saw
                  Where to find it: Home Depot
                  Price $3.50


                                                 4
Procedure to Build the Flashlight Holder


           Cut part “B” to give the height you need for
           your microscope




          Insert The shorter part “B” into part “A”
          Glue is not necessary
          Sand to remove all the markings




                                                          5
Procedure to Assemble the Light Holder
                  The microphone holder has a
                  threaded mount.
                  Screw the microphone holder into the
                  curved tube as shown (you may
                  need to use a vice clamp to hold the
                  tube during this procedure). Also,
                  you may want to heat the tube by
                  placing it very hot water for a minute
                  or two to make it softer.

                  Make sure that the microphone
                  adapter aligns as shown in the
                  picture.

                  Finally, insert the thick part of the
                  stand into the weight hole, it will fit
                  perfectly and will provide the right
                  stability to the stand


                                                            6

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How to Make an LED Microcope Light from a Flashlight

  • 1. How to Make a Microscope Light Pictures and Layout by German Perilla 1
  • 2. This is the original document regarding converting flashlights to microscope lights. The power point that follows expands on those ideas  All:   As part of building up our lab with scant money for equipment, I have been frustrated about the cost of high quality microscope lights. Even old fashioned illuminators now cost well over $200.00 and still deliver sub par light compared to that from fiber optic. Recently, I was in a camping store and was looking at the LED miniflashlights. I noticed that there were now some high intensity 3 watt varieties and picked up a Gerber LX3.0 (about $50.00) to see if would work as a microscope light. I was impressed with how much light it put out for such a small object (7.5" X ~1" in diameter at the head). At home I tried it out and it blew away even my inexpensive fiber optic (ecolight).   At the office I found that the flashlight fit very nicely into the standard Bausch and Lomb stand's illuminator hole; a little adjusting up and down and I had all the illumination I wanted.   After a while I noticed that the light dimmed as the batteries drained down. I could convert to recharchables, but after reading more about how these particular flashlights work:   http://candlepowerforums.com/vb/index.php?   (this is an amazing web site, populated by fanatical flashlight nerds who chat all day about the technical specs of every flashlight known to mankind, check out the LED forum)   I realized that they had a long battery life, but that they did not hold the voltage steady and that light would dim relatively quickly.   The solution was to connect it to house current.   I had been saving wall cube transformers for years, just in case they would come in handy and it turns out that I had a couple that would output around the 4.5V the flashlight liked. According to the experts the LED bulbs are pretty tough so you could likely run them up to maybe 6V without shaving too much off their life.   Make sure that the wall cube converts AC 120V (input) to somewhere around 4.5V DC and not to 4.5V AC....some convert to the proper voltage but in AC. I didn't look closely the first time I tried this and I ran the light on AC, which worked OK, but the light shimmied around and was distracting.   To do the conversion take out the batteries and run a wire down to the bottom of the flashlight. I used a dowel to which I added a tiny screw to one end and then attached a wire to that screw and tightened it. Be careful to not let any of the wire touch the wall of the flashlight or it will create a short. I then taped the wire to the dowel and ran the whole thing to the bottom. For the return, I ground off some of the nonconductive anodized finish, and simply taped the end of another wire to the body. I cut the end of the wall cube off and attached the wires to wires coming off of the light. If your first try doesn't work then switch the wires as the polarity may be wrong (this is not supposed to be healthy for the LED, but mine survived). You can then put a switch in the line if you want, or simply plug and unplug the wall cube.   I imagine that price and variety will lower the price on these flashlights soon too.   Have fun.   sam 2
  • 3. Parts and Tools Required to Make a Microscope Flashlight Holder (2008 Prices) One Microphone stand adapter Where to find it: RadioShack Price $6.29 Reference 3300372 Joseph F. Metzger, Jr’s Idea 2 ½ pound weight Where to find it: Sports Authority Price $2.48 Reference 18694314 3
  • 4. Parts and Tools Required to Make a Microscope Flashlight Holder A B ½’ 45°Bell end elbow Where to find it: Home Depot Price $0.88 Reference UA7ADB-CTN(25) Saw Where to find it: Home Depot Price $3.50 4
  • 5. Procedure to Build the Flashlight Holder Cut part “B” to give the height you need for your microscope Insert The shorter part “B” into part “A” Glue is not necessary Sand to remove all the markings 5
  • 6. Procedure to Assemble the Light Holder The microphone holder has a threaded mount. Screw the microphone holder into the curved tube as shown (you may need to use a vice clamp to hold the tube during this procedure). Also, you may want to heat the tube by placing it very hot water for a minute or two to make it softer. Make sure that the microphone adapter aligns as shown in the picture. Finally, insert the thick part of the stand into the weight hole, it will fit perfectly and will provide the right stability to the stand 6
  • 7. Parts and Tools Required for the Electrical Connection 4.5 Volts Mini AC to DC Adapter Where to find it: RadioShack Price $ 37.67 Reference 2731760 Hobby Leads Assay Where to find it: RadioShack Price $3.39 Reference 2731742 7
  • 8. Parts and Tools Required for the Electrical Connection A 4.5 volts or 5 volts transformer will work, be sure that it is an AC to DC transformer not an AC to AC transformer 8
  • 9. Parts and Tools Required for the Electrical Connection Cord Switch Where to find it: Home Depot Price $3.56 Reference 030721705007 Polyolefin Heat Shrink Tubing Where to find it: Home Depot Price $1.97 9
  • 10. Parts and Tools Required for the Electrical Connection I used masking tape, but any tape will do Any sharp blade will work 10
  • 11. Parts and Tools Required for the Electrical Connection Braided copper 50 centimeters This is easy to roll Or you can use any copper wire gauge 16 to gauge 14 Electric cable gauge 24 The gauge 24 is very important because it will allow the insertion of the connecting devise later Need 30 centimeters 11
  • 12. Parts and Tools Required for the Electrical Connection Soldering Iron Price $17.96 Electric solder Lead free rosin core Price $5.00 Where to find it: Home Depot Clippers 12
  • 13. Parts and Tools Required for the Electrical Connection Phillips Screw Driver Drill bit 5/32 Drill bit 5/32 HS 961 (Long) Drill bit 3/16 13
  • 14. Parts and Tools Required for the Electrical Connection Or Drill Heat gun Drill press 14
  • 15. Parts and Tools Required for the Electrical Connection 3/8 x 36 Oak Dowel About one centimeter in diameter Where to find it: Home Depot Price: $2.00 15
  • 16. Parts and Tools Required for the Electrical Connection Gerber LX 3.0 LED Flashlight Where to find it: REI Reference 7202570011 Price $36.57 16
  • 17. Procedure to Make Contacts Tools: Final Product Soldering Iron Solder Piece of board Measure 6 centimeters of the braided copper strip, you will need two contacts (+, -) so make two of these. Bend it 90° as shown in the picture 17
  • 18. Procedure to Make the Contacts Coil the 6 cm of the copper wire from the center of the bend you just made to the end. This is how the copper wire coil should look 18
  • 19. Procedure to Make the Contacts Drill a hole in a board to hold the wire as shown. Use a 5/32 bit. 19
  • 20. Procedure to Make the Contacts Apply the solder and then smooth and spread it over the coiled cupper Two of these contacts are needed Cut the contacts so that they measure about one inch 20
  • 21. Procedure to Make the Electrical Connection Cut the Dowel to measure exactly 15 centimeters, the length of three AA batteries Tools: Drill press Drill bit 3/16 Tape Mark the center of the dowel, 7.5 centimeters from either end Place a piece of tape 8 millimeters from the tip of the drill bit, this visual guide will let you know when to stop drilling Drill an 8mm hole in the middle of the dowel 21
  • 22. Procedure to Make the Electrical Connection Tools: Drill Press Drill bit 5/32 Drill bit 5/32 HS 961 (long one) This is the most difficult part of the procedure Use the shorter drill bit 5/32 Place the dowel as shown in the picture make sure it is perpendicular and in perfect alignment with the drill bit Hold it with you hand Drill a one inch hole as a guide for the longer bit Exchange drill bits (Place Drill bit 5/32 HS 961 (long one) Drill the entire length of the dowel (15 cm) 22
  • 23. Procedure to Make the Electrical Connection The Dowel should look as shown in the pictures You should have access to either end of the dowel from the center hole 23
  • 24. Procedure to Make the Electrical Connection To turn on the Gerber LX 3.0 Led flashlight you have to tighten (rotate clockwise) the cap until batteries make contact with the led To determine where to open the hole on the flashlight, so that it aligns with the middle hole of the dowel I placed the two contacts I made in the dowel, placed the dowel inside the flash light, pushed until contact was made and took the measurement Tools: Drill Press 3/32 drill bit Open a hole in the flash light at exactly 6.8 cm as shown in the picture 24
  • 25. Procedure to Make the Electrical Connection 25
  • 26. Procedure to Make the Electrical Connection Tools: Clippers Blade Cut 30cm of the 24 gauge cable Split them apart One will be smooth, the other will have ridges or some lines printed along the outer border 26
  • 27. Procedure to Make the Electrical Connection Introduce both cables thought the hole in the flashlight until you have about one inch left out side the flashlight, refer to the pictures Strip about one inch from the long end of each of the cables and twist the individual strands of copper wire together so that if forms a single wire 27
  • 28. Procedure to Make the Electrical Connection Place the dowel parallel to the flashlight, this is the direction in which it will be introduced into the flashlight Take the smooth cable and proceed as indicated in the picture until the cable comes out Place a piece of tape to keep it in place 28
  • 29. Procedure to Make the Electrical Connection Take the cable with the ridges and repeat the procedure until the cable comes out on the opposite side (refer to the picture) Remove the tape and make sure that you have enough lag in the cable, so you are able to introduce the dowel into the flashlight. (just measure the distance) 29
  • 30. Procedure to Make the Electrical Connection Tools: Polyolefin Heat Shrink Tubing 1/8 Heat gun Soldering iron solder  Cut two equal parts of the 1/8 Polyolefin Shrink Tubing  Insert one half of the shrink tubing in the cable  Twist together the terminal and cable ends  Optional: Apply solder to secure the jointed ends  Pull the shrink tubing as shown in the picture  Apply heat with the heat gun until it shrinks around the joint  Repeat the procedure at the other end 30
  • 31. Procedure to Make the Electrical Connection Gently pull the cables until both terminals are against the tips of the dowel Refer to the pictures + - The ridged cable corresponds to the positive end of the batteries, and thus the smooth cable corresponds to the negative end of the batteries With one hand gently push the dowel into the flashlight With other hand gently pull the cable that - comes out of the drilled hole, until every thing is in place 31
  • 32. Procedure to Make the Electrical Connection The pictures indicate how it should look 32
  • 33. Procedure to Make the Electrical Connection The power adapter has two ends one that plugs to the wall, and one that plugs to the appliance  Cut the end that plugs to the appliance  Identify the two ridged cables  Optional Insert a piece of the ¼ shrinking tubing  Split about 15 centimeters of the cable  Cut the 1/8 shrink tubing in half and insert on each end as shown in the picture 33
  • 34. Procedure to Make the Electrical Connection Optional: Insert the 3/16 shrink tubing as indicated in the picture onto the flashlight wires. This will provide support to the thin cables Strip about one inch of each end of the four cables (refer to the picture) 34
  • 35. Procedure Join the ends making sure that the two ridged cables are join together and the two smooth ends are joined together Apply solder to the joins to make a better connection Place the 1/8 shrink tubing over each of the joins Apply heat with the heat gun until properly fastened 35
  • 36. Procedure to Make the Electrical Connection Use the heat gun to shrink the 3/16 tubing that cover the cables that come out of the flashlight Move the ¼ shrinking tubing over the joined cables Apply heat with the heating gun 36
  • 37. Procedure to Make the Electrical Connection Decide where you are going to install the switch I did it about 40 cm away from the flashlight  Open the switch  At the distance where you decided the switch is going to be, split the cable using a sharp blade (about 2 cm)  Cut the smooth cable in the middle and place it in the switch as indicated in the picture  Replace the other half of the switch and press firmly  Fasten the nut until the whole unit is assembled properly  Place the flashlight in the microphone holder  Plug the transformer into the wall  Turn on the switch  And you should have a working microscope light 37
  • 39. This is the change I experienced !!! 39
  • 40. German Perilla Email: gperilla@gmu.edu Cell 703 307 6770 40