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Food Living Outside Play Technology Workshop

A high-power LED torch using a single AA-battery


by qs on August 7, 2008

Table of Contents

A high-power LED torch using a single AA-battery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

Intro: A high-power LED torch using a single AA-battery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Step 1: The circuit and layout. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

Step 2: The parts list. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

Step 3: Making the tube 'body' . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

Step 4: The Assembly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

Step 5: A quick test... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

Step 6: Final assembly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

Step 7: What's next? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

Related Instructables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

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Comments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

http://www.instructables.com/id/A-high-power-LED-torch-using-a-single-AA-battery/
Intro: A high-power LED torch using a single AA-battery
This high-efficiency design can power LEDs at 100mA of current and is not much bigger than the battery that powers it. The unique circuit uses 2 commonly available
transistors (BC327 and BC337) in an oscillator to boost the 1.2 or 1.5 volts from a rechargeable (nickel) or alkaline battery to the 3+ volts necessary to light a LED. No
fancy ferrite inductor is needed as we will be using the metal jacket around the battery as part of our coil.

Image Notes
1. Optional: Anything from 1u to 15uF will do

http://www.instructables.com/id/A-high-power-LED-torch-using-a-single-AA-battery/
http://www.instructables.com/id/A-high-power-LED-torch-using-a-single-AA-battery/
Step 1: The circuit and layout.
The circuit uses a BC327 (PNP) and a BC337 (NPN) transistor. They are connected as a blocking oscillator at about 100kHz through the 150pF capacitor. Each cycle
starts with the coil being charged, then this charge, plus the voltage of the battery, about 3.5v, is applied across the LED. The 1N4148 diode takes this voltage and stores
it in the .1uF cap, which is used to drive the transistors, resulting in a much more powerful and efficient circuit.

The 22uH coil consists of 35 turns of #28AWG wire over the battery, using the metal in the shell to multiply the inductance.

A simple diagram shows the placement of the parts.

Image Notes
1. Optional: Anything from 1u to 15uF will do

Step 2: The parts list.


The LEDs are standard 25mA 5mm 120000mcd white LEDs from eBay. The rest are available from Radio Shack or surplus at places like http://www.AllElectronics.com.

BC327 PNP transistor


BC337 NPN transistor
1N4148 Low-signal diode or similar (Virtually any silicon diode)
0.1uF ceramic capacitor (can be anything larger)
150pF ceramic capacitor
12uF 6v tantalum cap (can be anything over 5uF)
100K resistor (controls brightness: 470k for 50mA; 68K for 120mA)
4-ft of #28 or #30 AWG wire wrap
Perforated copper boards, pre-trimmed as shown

http://www.instructables.com/id/A-high-power-LED-torch-using-a-single-AA-battery/
Step 3: Making the tube 'body'
Cut a strip of paper 11" long, 1/4" wider than the length of the battery. Apply stick glue as you wrap it around the battery. This will be stiffen up the tube.

Use the widest battery you have as the template so that the tube is loose enough for the battery to be removed and replaced.

Set aside to dry while you assemble the circuit board.

http://www.instructables.com/id/A-high-power-LED-torch-using-a-single-AA-battery/
Step 4: The Assembly
Start by placing the 4 LEDs. Make sure the shorter (-) leads are on the outside. You will need to make sure they are all flat against the perfboard. Solder the shorter leads
(only) to keep it secure.

Then 'fold' the longer leads over to its neighbor so that all the + leads are connected. Note that only 3 sides are connected and ends in a 'hook' which extends a bit out
from the board. This will be where the coil is connected.

Continue with the BC337 and the BC327 transistors and the other components. Note that one lead (the 'E') of the BC337 and all connetions to B- are also left pointing up.
See the images below. The red sleeving is used to prevent shorting - from a connection error... (:P)

When all is soldered and checked, slip the smaller perf-board, copper-side up. This is the level all the B- connections are made. You should be able to wrap the leads so
they can touch each other. DO NOT solder them yet!

http://www.instructables.com/id/A-high-power-LED-torch-using-a-single-AA-battery/
Image Notes
1. Hook in + lead for connection.

http://www.instructables.com/id/A-high-power-LED-torch-using-a-single-AA-battery/
Step 5: A quick test...
If you have a 22uH inductor handy, you can test your circuit by connecting one end of the coil to B+ and the other end to the 'hook' left in Step (4).

Touch B- to the wires at the center of the small perfboard and the LEDs should all light up. SUCCESS!

On to the the final assembly bits now.

Image Notes
1. I've got a setup running so I can check out parts before putting them into lights.

Image Notes
1. Fit the end of the 22uH to the 'hook'
2. 22uH inductor

Step 6: Final assembly


Crease and push in one end of the paper tube as much as you can to add support. Then make 2 pin-holes at the base of the crease. Push the negative end of the 12uF
capacitor through one of the hole.

Solder this wire to the wire cluster in the middle of the perfboard before pushing it out the other pin-hole.

Start the coil by soldering the stripped end to the 'hook' on the main perfboard and start winding around the tube over the battery and the 12uF capacitor. Solder the other
end of the coil to the + side of the capacitor.

The wire of the capacitor is long enough to reach around to the positive of the battery - that is your on-switch. Push it to touch the battery and you get LIGHT!

Do NOT look into the light - it will be bright!

http://www.instructables.com/id/A-high-power-LED-torch-using-a-single-AA-battery/
http://www.instructables.com/id/A-high-power-LED-torch-using-a-single-AA-battery/
http://www.instructables.com/id/A-high-power-LED-torch-using-a-single-AA-battery/
Step 7: What's next?
I hope you have lots of fun making these lights.

Here are a couple of different combinations: 4-LEDs or 1 120mA LED. The single LED is simple enough that I soldered the components directly onto the leads of the
LED. Sealed in 3/4" heat-shrink tubing.

You will find much more about LED circuits at my Website: http://www.quantsuff.com Give me a visit and let me know what you are building this week!

http://www.instructables.com/id/A-high-power-LED-torch-using-a-single-AA-battery/
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Comments
50 comments Add Comment view all 93 comments

Havoc481 says: Jun 3, 2011. 8:15 PM REPLY


hay quick question i don't care if you think its stupid but what would happen if you where to apply 3.5 to 4v to this circuit what would the out put voltage be.

qs says: Jun 4, 2011. 6:52 AM REPLY


It will be zero.

The additional drive at the base of the transistor will not allow it to turn off and it becomes a short circuit, quickly draining the battery until it is destroyed.

http://www.instructables.com/id/A-high-power-LED-torch-using-a-single-AA-battery/
Shalendar says: Jan 31, 2011. 11:36 AM REPLY
I'm having trouble finding 25mA 5mm 120000mcd white LEDs on any reputable site.

qs says: Feb 7, 2011. 6:57 PM REPLY


Any 25mA LED will work. The mcd rating is just how bright the 'spot' is.

Shalendar says: Feb 7, 2011. 9:36 PM REPLY


the 25mA leds i have didnt work. My guess is that the voltage was wrong. The LEDs i have are 2v. I'm pretty sure that the LEDs you used are at least
3v. I'll have to see if I can get higher volt LEDs and try it again.

Rusdy says: Apr 10, 2009. 4:47 AM REPLY


I wonder how efficient this circuit is (i.e. volts and current input and output)

qs says: Apr 10, 2009. 8:07 PM REPLY


With a new alkaline at 1.6v, it's 78% efficient, but drops to about 65% with a 1.2v Nicad - it has to do with the Vce drop across the transistors at 200mA.

Rusdy says: Apr 11, 2009. 7:51 PM REPLY


I was a wee bit pessimistic when I saw the circuit. But after testing it myself in PSPICE, I stand corrected. It is pretty damn efficient for such a simple
blocking oscillator circuit (as they're not really efficient). Those components choice, do give efficient conversion. At 1.2 V, PSPICE simulation does
give around 40-50% efficient, and it's consistent down to 1V. The transistor does play a big factor here though (as you commented), definitely need
high gain in high frequency, your typical hobbyst transistor (such as BC547/557) won't give the same efficiency (and less brightness as well for the
LED). I wish I saw your circuit first, before I ventured out to LM2623 from National Semiconductor. It definitely gives 70-80% efficiency down to 0.9V.
Unfortunately, it only comes in a surface mount (for a very good reason, with upto 2MHz switching frequency), so it's pretty expensive to work with.

qs says: Apr 11, 2009. 9:01 PM REPLY


I've been experimenting with the flyback circuit since the first Joule Thieves went around the web. You can see my efforts here on my website.

Normally I use low Vce transistors like the 2SD965 which really helps in the efficiency, but, in designing this circuit here, I wanted one that can be
duplicated by the average hobbyist without access to the fancier equipment and components.

I'm glad you like it.

Sagar Gondaliya says: May 16, 2009. 7:36 AM REPLY


your ideas are amazing. i was just wondering, i dont have a very good monitor so i cant read your schematics on the webite. could you maybe
post some computer generated ones so i could read them? thnx very much in advance -a fellow maker

qs says: May 16, 2009. 10:16 AM REPLY


Tell me the ones you are having trouble with and I can try and send you better images.

Also, some of the circuits on my website link to larger ones too.

Sagar Gondaliya says: May 16, 2009. 1:41 PM REPLY


im mainly having problems with the hack-lite one. thnx

qs says: May 16, 2009. 8:44 PM REPLY


Here's a bigger image. Or you can try this link which is accessible from the smaller pic on my website as well.

Let me know if this is helpful.

http://www.instructables.com/id/A-high-power-LED-torch-using-a-single-AA-battery/
Sagar Gondaliya says: May 17, 2009. 6:26 AM REPLY
yea it is. thnx

zorba02008 says: Aug 11, 2010. 4:30 AM REPLY


thank you for reply

zorba02008 says: Aug 10, 2010. 3:11 AM REPLY


What will happen if we replace the 1.5 v battery by 3 v battery ? can i use a mobile battery instead of one AA battery (rated 3.6 650ma) ? How can
inductance of coil affects the efficiency of this circuit (low or high)? thanks for your efforts

qs says: Aug 10, 2010. 8:16 AM REPLY


For Lithium (3.6v) operation, please see my response to Newzy.

zorba02008 says: Aug 4, 2010. 8:54 AM REPLY


i finished my one and add something i think it is very important (reflector) like in the images.......

newzy says: Jul 10, 2010. 5:50 AM REPLY


@mchenson could you plz post all the details of the component that u used in your ckt..becoz u have not used c3 and value of c2 is much more.it will b
helpfull.. @qs thanx for ckt..it is a nice 1..what is output voltage and current of this ckt??and if i use primary battery then 4 how many continuous hour will it
last??can i add more led and 2 aa battery instead of 1??what modifications i have to made??? thanx a lot ..

http://www.instructables.com/id/A-high-power-LED-torch-using-a-single-AA-battery/
qs says: Jul 10, 2010. 8:39 AM REPLY
With Two 1-1/2volt alkaline batteries, the KISS design would be best: Direct connect the LEDs to the batteries. As long as they are White, Blue or Violet
LEDs, their Vf is at or higher than the 3-volts supplied by the batteries. This ensures that the batteries are used 100% efficiently. It may not be cute or
exotic, but it is the best solution.

If you are squeamish, a 22-ohm resistor in series with the LED will reduce the current (and efficiency) a bit to avoid overdriving the LED.

With 3000maH primary batteries, a single LED (@25mA) will run for (3000 / 25) = 120 hours.

qs

newzy says: Jul 10, 2010. 8:41 PM REPLY


hii qs thanx 4 the reply..if u dont mind then can u explain me about theoretical calculation of this ckt??/like how to calculate voltage and current
acroos o/p theoretically...it will be helpfull 4 me..thanx 4 ur cooperation..

joinaqd says: Dec 19, 2009. 4:17 PM REPLY


i have 2 questions:

1.) What colors are the band markings?

2.) If i have ferrite, how many turns would be needed to run this thing?

Sandivar says: Oct 25, 2009. 8:46 PM REPLY


Great circuit, and I look forward to building it just as soon as I can buy the required parts.

However, I do have a question: You use a 22 uH inductor to test the circuit; why wouldn't you just use the same 22uH inductor wired into the circuit and skip
wrapping the wire around the battery?

(And where can I buy some of those types of inductors, by the way?)

qs says: Oct 26, 2009. 9:53 AM REPLY


Any inductor of the correct value will work in this circuit, but inductors are not nearly as common or cheap as other electronic components - that is why I
try to come up with home-made solutions for them.

One source I've used is eBay - there are a few Asian sources, like this one which has them at about 10c apiece.

carpeteknus says: Jul 29, 2009. 7:00 PM REPLY


Excelent ! lined up for my next weekend project :) Do you know how long will a new alkaline battery last? my rough math says around 20 hours for a 2000mA
h(2000mAh/(4x25mA) ), but i'm not sure that's the complete discharge calculation

sign-up says: Jul 29, 2009. 8:54 PM REPLY


Remember that the LEDs are run at 3.3v, while the battery is only 1.5v

Using the power calculation:


Input = 2500mAH * 1.5v = 3,750mWH
Output = 4 * 3.3v * 25ma = 330mW

So, to get operation hours: Input / Output = 11.4 hours. Of course there is also a penalty in the conversion (in-)efficiency we have to factor in, about 75%
by my observations, which lowers the operation time to about 8-1/2 hr.

Biotele says: Jul 21, 2009. 1:23 PM REPLY


This is awesome ! You use the battery in place of the the ferrite. Does it have to be BC337/BC327, or could it be any type of NPN/PNP pair like 3904/3906?

qs says: Jul 21, 2009. 2:00 PM REPLY


To optimize performance, it really needs to have the components specified. However, that said, the real key is the NPN transistor. It has to have the
power handling, gain-bandwidth and a low enough Vce for the kind of current draw we need. Ideally it should have been a 2SC965 or similar device
designed for disposible flash-camera use, which shares most of the same requirements as our project, including a 1.5-volt power source.

Biotele says: Jul 21, 2009. 2:54 PM REPLY


what is the function of D1? Is it to clamp the voltage at C2 to a certain level?

qs says: Jul 21, 2009. 6:01 PM REPLY


The diode rectifies the output voltage of about 3V to more than double the drive to the transistors, like a supercharger on a car engine. It also
keeps C2 from discharging when Q2 (the BC337) conducts.

http://www.instructables.com/id/A-high-power-LED-torch-using-a-single-AA-battery/
Davidl3 says: Jul 5, 2009. 8:09 AM REPLY
When you said "25mA 5mm 120000 mcd white LEDs," didn't you mean "25mA 5mm 12000 mcd white LEDs?"

imakethings says: Feb 24, 2009. 8:50 PM REPLY


what is the difference between PNP and NPN

tanmanknex says: May 15, 2009. 8:03 PM REPLY


a simple explanation is that they are built differently and are thus wired up slightly different.

qs says: Feb 24, 2009. 9:29 PM REPLY


It's probably too involved to get into here, but a good place to start is on Wiki, then follow some of their links to get more in depth information.

ralegg says: May 11, 2009. 7:03 PM REPLY


Could you list out which parts go to certain points in your electrical diagram? I am not very good with circuitry but I am trying, I have all the parts on your part
list but your diagram has listed a 1N4148 diode, is this necessary b/c it's not on your list? Thanks

qs says: May 14, 2009. 7:41 PM REPLY


Yes, the 1N4148 is required. I will add it to the list.

ML159 says: Apr 24, 2009. 5:26 PM REPLY


When I try to build the circuit the light just doesn't seem to light... I have to admit that I do not have every part specified and used different parts, is that the
main source of my problem? I am using a bread board to test it and so far I have managed to get other "joule thief's" to work perfectly fine. I have been to
you website and I have to say it is pretty amazing, kudos. I tried building those but i managed to get only one to work very poorly. Yet again I did not use the
exact parts specified so that might be the problem. I am open to any suggestions as to why it doesn't work... thanks.

qs says: Apr 27, 2009. 1:22 PM REPLY


I think you have answered your own question. Keep in mind that we are trying to light up four LEDs at full brightness, so, yes, the components are
extremely important, as you are finding out first hand. The BC327 and BC337 transistors are fairly easy to find, they are even available on eBay. Good
luck, and keep at it!

ML159 says: Apr 27, 2009. 4:11 PM REPLY


Thanks for your help! I think I am starting to get it to work.

dog812 says: Feb 27, 2009. 4:01 PM REPLY


Hey i was wondering.. Would a circuit like this work for my applications with my LED hula hoops? I would like to make them less expensive for people.. using
a single AA or 2 AA in a drop in style holder would be awesome.. Please message me i would love to ask you some questions..

qs says: Feb 27, 2009. 4:08 PM REPLY


I can't see why not - in fact this other 'ible I made should give you an idea what it can do!

joinaqd says: Jan 9, 2009. 6:13 PM REPLY


ummm....i got a transistor from a camera,and one from a computer-cooler-fan..how do i know which one is PNP and which is NPN?

qs says: Jan 9, 2009. 6:28 PM REPLY


The best way is to see if there are some identification numbers on the transistor body - usually ending in a 4-digit number. That will tell you what type it
is. qs

-Aj- says: Feb 23, 2009. 5:40 PM REPLY


google the part number along with "data sheet"

so in this case you would search "BC337 datasheet" (without quotations)

here is the datasheet i just found for the BC337 transistor


http://www.datasheetcatalog.org/datasheet/fairchild/BC337.pdf

http://www.instructables.com/id/A-high-power-LED-torch-using-a-single-AA-battery/
shams says: Jan 11, 2009. 8:19 AM REPLY
I have couple of c547b and c557b.Will they work well?plz i need help

qs says: Jan 11, 2009. 10:30 AM REPLY


If they are 2SC547 by Hitachi (google "2SB547"), then they are hi-voltage (500+) drivers, which needs at least 5-volts to even WORK - so they are NOT
usable in low voltage, high-gain circuits like the one here. Try obtaining BC327 from your local Radio Shack or Circuit City (in the US) or off eBay.

shams says: Jan 11, 2009. 11:51 PM REPLY


And i live in Bangladesh(2nd place in 7 wonder of the world).There is no radio shack or ebay.What about bd135 and bd 136 and i've got some bunch
of bobbin inductor from ccfl i dont know the inductance cuz the hole thing is wraped around a black plastic thing.Will higher inductance will give me
better performence or power?how about the choke i have for ccfl?

shams says: Jan 11, 2009. 11:45 PM REPLY


no its only bc547 and bc557.And where do i look for gain in datasheet?Is it dc current gain?In datasheet it is written in dc voltage section "(IC = −2.0
mAdc, VCE = −5.0 V) min=420 max=800

qs says: Jan 12, 2009. 10:32 AM REPLY


You are reading it right - because the bc557 is a PNP type (like the bc327), the values are negative. In this circuit, the NPN (bc337 / bc547) is the
one doing the "heavy" work, you should look at the spec sheet for that. Aside from the hfe or DC-gain, which should be over 200 at 100mA (and it
is), you should also be concerned with the Vbe value, because it specs the LOWEST battery value that the circuit will still work. Also, the Vce
value is how much power is WASTED - so the lower the better; which means the bc547 is not ideal since it 'loses' almost half the power at
100mA. Finally, the 'Peak Collector Current' is the maximum the transistor will handle before it goes POP. Icm for the bc546 is only 200mA, which
means a drive of no more than 50-60mA - half of what the bc337 can do. In summary, although the bc547+557 pair will probably work, they will
not be as bright, nor can you push it as hard. You can use the wire from your coil by disassembling it, and using it to make your own - using the
paper form as described above. Coils for these kind of circuits tend to be less 'powerful' the higher you go - they have more wire for more
resistance, and worse, they slow down the circuit so that there are more losses.

shams says: Jan 13, 2009. 1:05 AM REPLY


hand wound inductor is good or 22uh inducter that has been used is good?

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