Fundraising Keychain LED Flashlight

Sometimes an organization will send a little gift in the mail accompanying a plea for donation. These small tokens are sent as a psychological tactic to generate a return that far outweigh their low cost. I’ve received things like address stickers, notepads, and the occasional calendar. And now, I can add “keychain LED flashlight” to the list.

This item was included in a request to donate to Doctors without Borders, a well-respected organization well worth donating more money to. Whether they sent me a keychain flashlight or not. But it is on the teardown bench because I’m curious about the implementation details of a freebie giveaway that must have been designed for the lowest possible cost.

A power switch slider illuminates the commodity 5mm white LED. Judging by the exterior, I expect to find a LED and a coin cell battery inside, based on the width probably a CR2032 or CR2035. The power switch would have been designed to open/close the circuit with minimal parts. I see a seam on the side of the device, so the silvery plastic body must consist of at least two pieces. The switch would be the third silvery plastic piece. White plastic on top and bottom may be two pieces or a single piece. So not counting the keychain itself, I expected five pieces of plastic plus the LED and coin cell for seven parts.

My expectations were proven wrong as soon as I removed the first piece. White pieces top and bottom were indeed separate pieces, held together in a friction fit. A good friction fit requires tight tolerances which costs money. I had expected cheaper loose tolerances which would have meant holding things together with glue, but this wasn’t glued together.

Once I removed top and bottom white plastic pieces, rest of the flashlight was easily disassembled. Power comes from a trio of tiny LR621 coin cell batteries, not the single CR2035 I expected. As a result, there was more empty space inside than I had expected including an empty rear cavity that is big enough to hide a microSD card or three. The power switch was indeed a clever mechanism, but it required an extra piece of metal that I thought it might have done without.

This little LED flashlight was indeed an extremely simple and low-cost device, just not quite as simple or low cost as I had thought it would be. Nice to see my assumptions proven wrong.

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