Wednesday, August 10, 2016

An Electronic, Battery Powered 'Candle'

An electronic candle in the household wasn't my idea; it was the idea of someone near and dear to me. She'd had it in mind as a grave candle in memory of her father-in-law, and she did put it to that use for awhile.

But the candle proved unreliable, and it ended up on the 'things to attend to one day' shelf of our home's storage room. I came across the candle the other day, and asked my wife if I could throw it out. She replied that I could throw out the electronic innards, but she wanted the shell to be a holder for a real candle. Hmmm. I thought that was a reasonable compromise, so I embarked on making a minor workshop project out of the candle.

Here's a view of the candle operating in near darkness.

And here is is with the lights on.

I'm inclined to think that electronic candles are pretty kitschy, but maybe that's just me.

Anyway, following is my account of the dismantling of the candle so I could toss its innards, and the shell's conversion to a proper candle holder.

Dismantling The Candle

At the underside, the battery cover comes off and the three C cells come out, of course. A thin, transparent, amber-coloured top cover comes away. That leaves me with the candle's inner assembly inside it's decorative black shell. Three small screws at the bottom come out, the bail is removed and the inner assembly is free to come out the top. Here's what you end up with.

The 'flame' is in a fairly deep recess at the top of the inner assembly at the right. That assembly is a glued together unit -- there's no nondestructive way to open it. Doesn't that just beg for further action? I think it does. Here goes.

- - -

After some prying and snapping of plastic, I got to here.

There's a tiny circuit board up inside that the 'flame' LED is no doubt mounted on. The circuit board is well adhered, and doesn't want to come away easily. A 90° pick tip might convince it. Here goes.

- - -

And there we are -- a white LED, and a circuit board with what must be a tiny IC encapsulated on it.

The IC must provide a couple of functions:
  • The three-position slide switch on the underside of the unit is labelled 'ON/OFF/Timer'. Whatever the 'Timer' function does, I imagine the IC is in control of it.
  • The LED does a fake flicker, in imitation of an actual candle flame. Again, the IC must control that effect.
So there we are; the innards of a fake candle.

Making A Floor For The Candle's Shell

Since my wife wants the shell for holding a real candle, I'll have to come up with a suitable disc to install as a 'floor' in the shell. Fortunately, there's an inner lip at the bottom of the shell that will make it easy to install a floor. Here's a view of that.

That lip is most helpful. I can just drop in a disc of the correct diameter, and there are even tabs with screw holes in them for fastening the disc in place.

A Sheet Metal Disc Floor

I pondered how to go about this for awhile, and finally decided on a floor made of appproximately 0.020" thick galvanized steel. Here's what I've ended up with.

At final assembly, I'll replace those ordinary hex nuts with Nyloc nuts, so the assembly can't loosen up on its own. Meanwhile, here's how a trial assembly looks.

With that disc painted flat black, the whole thing should look like it was always a holder for a real candle.

All Done

Here's the item fully reassembled, with its floor painted flat black. I just grabbed any old candle I could find to put in it -- my wife may have a more attractive candle in mind for it.

And here's the candle burning in near darkness.

Imagine that -- a candle that never needs batteries, or is troubled by oxidized battery contacts.

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