LED Flashlight PCB Contacts

One of the myriad cheap LED flashlights around the house & shop stopped working. This one consists of an aluminum shell with a pushbutton switch in the screw-on rear cap; somewhat to my surprise, the switch worked fine.

Poking around the PCB in the front revealed the problem: only friction held it in place against the springs contacting the three AA cell battery container. Pushing a bit harder shoved the lens and the LED / reflector / PCB assembly out:

LED flashlight PCB
LED flashlight PCB

The spring in the middle contacts the positive battery terminal. Those three square pads pressing against a locating shoulder inside the shell, but two of the pads have a solder layer and one is bare. I don’t know if the long lead on the LED at about two o’clock is a deliberate attempt to form an additional contact.

Peering inside the shell reveals three teeny nubs on the locating shoulder that could, presumably, dig into the solder pads:

LED flashlight - shell contact points
LED flashlight – shell contact points

If you’re having trouble spotting them, so did I. Running a fingernail around the shoulder helps: one is at the bottom, another about 10 o’clock, and the third at about 1 o’clock. They’re not evenly spaced at 120° to match up with the pads.

With only friction holding the PCB in place, I understand why the flashlight didn’t work; given enough of an impact, the battery would push the PCB just far enough forward to make the connection at least intermittent.

I aligned the two solder-coated pads with two nubs, shoved everything together, pressed the lens firmly in place, and we’ll see how long that lasts…