DEvan's DIY Pages - PROJEKT #1: LED Marker Beacon

OK...while this might sound like a silly project for some people, there will be many others who share my DIY approach to solving a common camping hazzard. As many know tie lines for tents and shade structures can be a serious problem when walking or biking around camp at night, and most off the shelf means for lighting and marking them are either rather costly or have a very short life span. I've tried solar powered landscape lights, but they're not always located in enough sunlight to fully recharge and tend to not last the night. Chemical glowsticks work really well, but become garbage in a day or two and must be replaced. Coleman makes cheap battery powered camp markers, but they use expensive coin batteries that only last about 20 hrs. Cheap LED blinkys have the same problem plus they tend to be prone to dying from shock or weather exposure. There are also some fancy LED lightsticks that are shock resistant, waterproof to 1000 feet, and have a 200 hr battery life...but they cost $20 each. This adds up quickly when you need a half dozen or so to properly mark your camp.

Frustrated with the options, I decided to play around with making something that would work almost as well as the expensive diving lights but at the price of the cheaper camp lights...the best part is I've added a very simple daylight sensor so the unit only lights up from dusk until dawn, making a pair of standard AAA batteries last for over 3 weeks of use! You simply activate them and tie them in place when you set up camp and turn them off when you're packing camp back up...every night they turn themselves on and the flashing LED blinks away until daylight sets them to rest again. They're waterproof (they float LED end up even), shock resistant, and cost under $5 each to make. Most of the parts came from online suppliers, the rest are readily available from almost any local hardware store or electronics supply store. Assembly time is about 10-15 min. for each unit with only minimal soldering skill needed for assembling them.

Look over the available options first, some of you may find one of them perfectly suitable. If you decide to make your own from these instructions please let me know how they work out. If anyone has any questions feel free to contact me directly...if lots of people have similar confusion I can either modify my instructions or put up a F.A.Q./Help page.

Here are the links to both My DIY marker and also the available products mentioned above showing both base cost and opperating costs
My DIY campsite LED Marker Beacon - uses two AAA for 250 hrs run time
Batteries are $0.49 ea. (times 2) / $0.0039 per Hour to run each unit
Cost=$4 ea.
+$0.33 ea. per week to use
Coleman campsite LED marker light - uses three 357 button cells for 20 hrs run time
Batteries are $1.99 ea. (times 3) / $0.2985 per Hour to run each unit
Cost=$2.50 ea.
+$25.07 ea. per week to use
Nite Ize clip-on LED marker band - uses one CR2032 coin battery for 200 hrs run time
Batteries are $2.49 ea. / $0.0124 per Hour to run each unit
Cost=$10.99 ea.
+$1.04 ea. per week to use
Tektite Mark III dive lightstick - uses three AAA batteries for 200 hrs run time
Batteries are $0.49 ea. (times 3) / $0.0073 per Hour to run each unit
Cost=$19.95 ea.
+$0.61 ea. per week to use
Glo-Toob Mil-Spec LED lightstick - uses one #23A 12v photo battery for 30 hrs run time -
Batteries are $1.98 ea. / $0.0660 per Hour to run each unit
Cost=$19.95 ea.
+$5.54 ea. per week to use

Camp Marker - Page 2

© 2005 DEvan Brown

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