14 September 2009

DIY: LED campsite illumination

In the eternal quest to lighten up the load of my kayak I have been searching for some time now for an alternative to the old gas lantern to illuminate the communal camping area at night.
On my kayak trips we tend to congregate in one spot where we all cook and socialize together.
On backpacking trips the general consensus seems to be the use of headlamps as light source (less weight) but while kayaking more luxurious item can be had for that purpose.
Some fellow kayakers carry an extra gas canister and use a small gas lantern.
That light seems adequate and lasts long enough.
One problem: bulk and weight.

So, on a recent trip of two weeks of paddling with all supplies carried in my kayak I needed something small and light.
I have used previously a relatively small sized lamp purchased at an auto parts store that used LEDs as light source. It was compact but not that bright. It was rechargeable but the battery would not last.
On eBay I found the perfect compact light.

It's a cluster of 8 LEDs (superbright FLUX) mounted on a little PCB.
The LEDs power supply is 12V. which is perfect for my SLA battery that I recharge with a solar panel (see article here).
The LED light is so small and light (smaller than a box of matches) and will illuminate approx. for 8 hours on a fully charged battery (consumption 130mAh).
At AUD$ 5 (and $5 postage from Hong Kong) it is hard to beat. I purchased mine from Kittybabie

the cluster of LEDs 35mmX22mm

it comes with sticky back foam (that I removed)

detailed view of the back with micro resistors.
I have extended the power supply cable to about 2 mt long so I can secure the light to a branch above camp with a twist tie and have the battery somewhere on the ground.
The LED light offers superb even and wide illumination of an area large enough for several people to prepare dinner.
I still use my Candlefire to add atmosphere to the sterile blue light that the LED light emits (I'm not a fan of "cold" light) and to keep biting critter at bay (citronella in the wax).

illuminated camp with LED cluster light

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