Home » Circuits
Light From Flat BatteriesButton or coin cells that appear to be flat in their normal function may yet be discharged further. This is because in many cases, for instance, a quartz watch stops to function correctly when the battery voltage drops to 1.2 V, although it can be discharged to 0.8 V. Normally, however, not much can be done with a single cell. In the present circuit, a super-bright LED is made to work from voltages between 1 V and 1.2 V. This may be used for map-reading lights, a keyhole light, or warning light when jogging in the dark. When a yellow, superbright LED is used with a fresh battery, it may be used as an emergency reading light or to read a front door nameplate in the dark or to find an non-illuminated doorbell.
Normally, LEDs light at voltages under 1.5 V (red) or 1.6–2.2 V (other colours) only dimly or not at all. The present circuit uses a multivibrator of discrete design that oscillates at about 14 kHz. The collector resistor of one of the transistors has been replaced by a fixed inductor, which is shunted by the LED. Because of the self-inductance, the voltage across the LED is raised, so that the diode lights dimly at voltages as low as 0.6 V and becomes bright at voltages from about 0.8 V up. The circuit requires a supply voltage of 0.6–3 V and draws a current of about 18 mA at 1 V.