ITP Blog

Intro to Fabrication - Week 1

September 06, 2018

Our assignment for the first week of Fabrication class:

Build a flashlight using any tools or techniques you’d like. I’m defining a flashlight as:

- portable
- creates light

I decided to start simple and prototype a circuit that lights up an LED. This is because the last time I attempted to build and solder something, I built a mechanical keyboard with broken “J”, “P”, “3”, and ”;” keys…

Prototyping Circuits

Here is the breadboard prototype I built using pieces from an ”Introduction to Modern Electronics” kit and information from this Instructables tutorial (rudimentary circuit diagram included). Only one LED was burnt out during this process.



breadboard prototype

Prototyping Flashlights

After prototyping a working LED circuit, I started to experiment with the flashlight’s form. My initial experiment involved recycling a handheld radio to both power and act as a switch for the flashlight.

handheld radio

radio breadboard

This didn’t work as expected because I was reusing the radio speaker’s wires which didn’t have a high enough voltage to power an LED. Yang, a second-year ITP student, helped me use an Arduino to turn the radio’s dial into a basic penoptimeter.

photo yang


Back To The Junk Shelf

But because I didn’t want to build a flashlight with an Arduino in it, I went back to the junk shelf. Ben’s advice was to build big, so we found PVC pipes that could fit a 9 volt battery, the LED, the resistor, and all the wires. I also swapped the breadboard button for a threaded toggle that could be attached to the pipe using a nut. Finally, a plastic eyeball was used as the “cap” of the flashlight and glued to the smaller PVC pipe that shared the eyeball’s diameter.

junk shelf pieces

taped pipes

Before assembling the components into the flashlight, I tested the circuit (and my amateur soldering skills) on a breadboard.

breadboard test

Here is footage of the final product: video

Future Thoughts

Some thoughts I had if I were to redo this project or continue to build on it:

  • Paint the flashlight black to give the eyeball a visual pop
  • Use a counter sink bit so that I don’t have screw heads sticking out of the flashlight
  • Give the flashlight’s bottom a proper cap so it’s insides aren’t visible

Adrian Bautista

NYU ITP documentation blog.
Words are my own.