camper trailer tech tips

DIY LED flexi arm light



DIY LED flexi arm light

by Rob

I had been looking around for some time for a suitable LED light on a flexible arm for use in the camper trailer without much luck. Those that are available on the market were overpriced or run on AA or AAA batteries. Going on past camping experiences, torch batteries nearly always seem to be flat when you need them the most. Because of the low battery draw LED lights are perfect for running off the 12 volt battery system in you vehicle or camper trailer when camping. Each of these 12LED 12volt downlights only draw under 200mA, so setting two of these lights up opposite each other across the table for having tea after dark you are still using less than an amp.

Browsing Officeworks one day & spied a 240 volt low watt light on a flexi arm, fitted with a gator clip at the end, similar to a bed head light, for $7. In an instance I knew what better use I could make of this.

putting it together

To dismantle the fitting inside the lightshade I just unscrewed the fitting, snapping the wire in the process.

It just so happens a 12LED 12volt downlight, available from lighting shops, fits perfectly into a 50mm PVC plumbing end cap.

From here you can simply drill a hole in the top of the PVC end cap & add it to the inside of the light shade, use the lead supplied with the light including the in-line switch & replace the 240 volt plug with a cigarette lighter plug.

However I wanted the light to have a long lead so it could be used within a good range of the outlet. I removed the lead completely along with the shade to make the whole thing more compact.

There is only 4mm between the back of the downlight & the top of the PVC end cap so I had to remove a bit off the threaded tube with a hacksaw. You could fit a mini switch into the limited space on the side the PVC end cap but I wanted a larger push on/off switch that could be easily found in the dark. The behind dash body of a normal sized 12mm switch is too large for this space.

I found that a 12mm switch fits into the end of the flexi arm, but is too long to be pushed right in. I fixed that by cutting the end off a texta colour top so the wire could pass through & pushed the tapered end into the end of the flexi arm.

Please note the black wire with red stripe is the positive lead on the LED light & the centre of the cigarette lighter plug is also the positive.

Sidewinder have a 12 volt 18LED light for $19.95 which looks the same size as the 12LED light I used & with the extra few LED's would be a bit brighter.

     Just a coat of matt black paint on the PVC end cap & it looks just like a bought one.

what it cost

Clip Lamp from light section at Officeworks $7.00
12 volt 12LED downlight $15.00
PVC end cap $1.50
push on/off switch Jaycar CAT. NO. SP0718 $1.50
5 metres speaker wire Jaycar CAT. NO. WB1702 $2.10
fused cigarette lighter plug Jaycar CAT. NO. PP2001 $2.95
total $30.05

a few photos

as the light was bought unpacked unscrew light fitting
threaded tube LED downlight & PVC end cap red stripe is positive wire
pen cap centre pin of plug is positive completed DIY LED light


july 2008