Broken down? Turn your pencil into a flashlight.

by Paul Michael on 21 July 2007 20 comments

pencil light

If there's one thing I know about travel, it's be prepared. But it's sometimes easier said than done. We all know we should carry emergency supplies in the trunk of the car, and one of those essentials is a flashlight. It can help you see the root of the problem under the hood or the beneath the car itself, and obviously it's invaluable at night. But if you don't have one, you can still see the light...if you have a pencil!

This clever guy shows you, quickly and easily, how to turn a regular pencil into a very bright light using only the pencil, some speaker wire and your battery. Remember it well, it may just save you from a night on the side of the road.

Photo by The Stock Exchange

 

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Guest's picture
stephen

Don't mean to rain on your parade, but I see one almighty great flaw with this: I'm in the dark without a light - and I'm supposed to split a pencil down its centre, extract the lead, attach to leads to the 24V battery and twitch to the lead...

It would be the only time I hope there is a smoker in the car!
Why?
Because I'd burn their cigarette-lighter and all their matches before successfully splitting a pencil down its centre without breaking it into several dozen pieces. Both in frustration and improbability.

But the video is well produced, the font-choice, the muzac, yeah, whoever created that put a lot of dollars into into showing us one amazing act of frugality!

Guest's picture
Guest

Surprised you were the only one to point out that flaw in the scheme!

So you carry around a pencil and speaker wire in your emergency kit...how do you find them without a FLASHLIGHT?
How do you do the pencil split, etc... without a FLASHLIGHT?

Maybe they should just carry a FLASHLIGHT in the emergency kit instead?

This guy has been watching too much McGuyver.

Guest's picture
Guest

But if you're wiser, you should probably do this even before the light goes out - meaning, you should prepare your materials while there's still light. If and only if, you have anticipated that there will be a light cut-off, or electrical cut-off.

Paul Michael's picture

...the inside of your car has a dome light. Something to see by while you perform the process, so that you can get outside and take a look at the problem. But I agree, it's not the easiest solution, merely a last resort.

Guest's picture
Guest

that better be a LAST resort. if the wires touch together when the pencil lead burns up, they can weld themselves together turning the length of wire into a red hot mess, or even cause the battery to explode. theres also the issue of severe burns or catching something on fire with the white hot pencil lead. this is a neat idea, but quite dangerous.

Guest's picture
Jared

I'm seeing a small market here for creating a long cord that plugs into your cigarette lighter and has LEDs at the end...

Paul Michael's picture

is a nice idea. Alas, it's been done .

Myscha Theriault's picture

Wow. Too bad my quicktime is malfunctioning. . . this sounds really neat.

Guest's picture
Fred

Maybe this will come in handy one day. Thanks!

Guest's picture
Guest

I THINK I WOULD RATHER USE THE DOME LIGHT BULB AND NOT THE LEAD IN MY PENCIL. SHOULD I JUST HUFF THE LEAD FUMES AS IT BURNS TOO.

Guest's picture
Guest

No but you should definitely turn the caps lock off.

Guest's picture
Guest

Though the material in a pencil is commonly referred to as "lead" it is graphite, i.e. it is carbon (C) not lead (Pb). See http://science.howstuffworks.com/question465.htm. So, breathing fumes from its burning probably wouldn't be much worse than breathing the smoke from burning logs. If it was really lead (Pb), it would be much worse.

Guest's picture
Guest

That would be graphite fumes...carbon...not lead

Guest's picture
Guest

A better idea is to remove the light bulb from the head lights, connect it to the wires and - you have a mobile light.

Guest's picture

Hey it sounds like a nifty idea...that is until someone tries it and their car battery blows up in their face, or they are burned, or shocked.

Who they gonna sue...probably not the guy who made this video.

Guest's picture
Expendable

This is to be used only if you don't have a working flashlight or AAA membership. Very McGuyverish - it's better to keep a working flashlight in your car for this. Or park under a streetlight to change that tire.

Guest's picture
Guest

My God...i hate to imagine the UV radiation coming from that light !!
I would not look into the light.

Guest's picture
Guest

nice; you burn up AND you car explodes!cool =)!!!!

Guest's picture
Guest

then u wouldn't even need to fix ur car:
u'd b dead and ur car would b thin air by then!

Guest's picture
tin

the demonstration's cool, yet it's not practical♫ heeheehee
anyway thankies!