DIY Astro Light

Last night at the Ft Bend Astronomy Club January meeting our president Derek Newton led us all in a DIY project to create a perfect little red light made from a Streamlight Key Mate with a replacement red low-voltage red LED.

I figured others might want to try this out since it wasn’t really all that hard. There are a couple of delicate steps but if I can make it work so can you.

You need one of the Streamlight Key Mate flashlights, a low-power red LED like you can find at Radio Shack, a small pair of pliers, and some small wire cutters. The kind of small tools one might use for craft projects are better than those used in heavy-duty electrical work.

Remove the head of the flashlight so you can get at the lamp housing. Then apply steady but rather gentle pressure and twist the lamp housing loose from the head. The white LED lamp has a very small spot-solder point that you have to break. Of course be careful with this part or your flashlight is broken!

You have to tug pretty hard to get the lamp housing out once you have loosened it from the head of the flashlight so be careful not to mar the plastic where the lamp sits or getting the old one out and the new one in will be a real pain.

Now loosen the leads from white LED until you can pull it out of the housing. Next put the red LED lamp through the 2 small holes where the white lamp leads were.

One should run straight up through the center and one will run through an opening on the side of the housing. Now bend the leads back onto the small channels just as the white lead had been. One lead should now stick through the center hole and be bent around and pointing back towards the LED and the other will be bent down and jut into the area where the bulb is.

Now trim the two leads to remove the extra but be sure to leave about an 1/8 of inch for the lead next to the bulb. This lead must make contact with the metal plate in the head of the light. The other lead will make contact with the included batteries once the head is screwed back on to the light.

Next line up the 2 plastic posts in the head with the lamp housing and snap it back in place. All you have to do now is screw the head back on and the light should work. You may have to reverse the batteries if like me you got the anode and cathode leads backwards when you inserted them but that doesn’t matter to me.

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