Have you ever been night skiing? The one thing missing from night skiing.... fun lights! That is why I decided to wrap an old set of ski poles with blue mini LED lights. It looks great against the snow and makes it very easy for your buddy to find you on the slopes.
This is a very easy DIY project involving two sets of mini LED lights ($7 each), 6 double AA batteries, some zip-ties, and packing tape.
The lights are very bright and will run for 48-hours non-stop on a set of batteries. I used Duracell rechargeables.
Enjoy and happy skiing!
Step 1: Supplies & Tools
2 packages of mini LED lights, blue. I bought mine from Amazon, RTGS for $5.75 per package (price now is $6.25). Each package contains a string of 20 lights spread over a length of 7 feet. These particular lights do not blink. Click here for the Amazon link.
You'll need a few nylon zip ties (clear). Home Depot for a few $. I bought a 20 pack of Commerical Electric brand, 7-inch long Precision Lock Cable Ties.
Clear Scotch-brand shipping packaging tape (heavy duty). Do not skimp on the quality of your packing tape. This is the key part to keeping the lights attached to your pole.
Pair of pliers or scissors - something to cut the zip ties.
Drill with a 3/16" drill bit.
Step 2: Step 1: Modify the battery case
DRILL 2 HOLES
The battery case has no good attachment points so what you can do is drill two holes and run a cable-tie through it. See the photo. Remove the battery case cover. Look closely at the interior of the compartment. You'll want to drill the hole close to the side of the middle battery compartment because in the next step, you'll be running a cable-tie through the two holes.
There is very little space inside the battery case for the cable-tie. That is why it is important that you DO NOT center the holes in the middle of the compartment, but instead - place them off to the side. Do your drilling from the outside of the case (from the back of the case, opposite of the battery compartment cover).
Start with the smallest drill bit you have, drill the two holes. Switch to next largest bit, drill again. Work your way up in bit size.
With the batteries in the case, it will be a tight fit with the cable-tie. I recommend using a rubberband or tape to keep the battery cover in place while skiing.
Step 3: Step 2: Mount the case to the pole
You can mount the case either vertically (long end of the case parallel to the pole) or horizontally. Mounting the case vertically makes the case not stand out as much when you look at the pole. It's a little more complicated to attach to the pole and the case can twist, which can cause the switch to flip.
I mounted the battery case vertically one one pole, and horizontally on the other pole as an experiment. Although the vertical mount made the lights go on, it never made the lights go off - whew. You choose.
Run a cable tie from the outside of the case, through one of the holes. Then push the end back through the other hole. You should have a battery case with two ends of the zip tie sticking out from the back of the case. (The back is the side without the cover.) You can lay the pole over the battery case and cinch the cable-tie tight around the pole. The cable-tie should be tight enough to keep the case from sliding down the pole. Use the pliers to cut off the excess cable-tie end.
As a precaution to keep the case from slipping, we'll use a 2nd cable-tie below the case on the pole. But first, wrap the excess insulated wire from the lights around the pole close to the bottom of the case. Use another cable-tie around the insulated wire and cinch it tight. Cut off the excess cable-tie.
Run a cable tie from the outside of the case, through one of the holes. Then push the end back through the other hole. You should have a battery case with two ends of the zip tie sticking out from the back of the case. (The back is the side without the cover.) Unlike the horizontal mount, you will not put the pole through this cable-tie. Instead, put the end through the other end and pull it tight. Cut off the excess. We'll call this cable-tie the case-tie.
Now run two cable ties through the case-tie and around the ski pole. Feed the cable-ties through their respective ends and pull tight. Cut off the excess cable-tie. This will hold the case against the pole. Notice how the battery case can swivel.
Step 4: Step 3: Wrap the lights around the pole
Now comes the fun part. Put batteries in the case and turn on the lights so that you can see how it will look as you wrap the lights around the pole. Make each wrap around the pole about one inch away from the previous wrap. You will only wrap the lights down the pole - not back up the pole. So you may need to adjust how close the wraps are so that the end of the light string ends at the bottom of the pole (above the basket).
Fortunately, the light string ends with two tiny wires that you can use to twist together at the bottom of the pole.
Once you have the poles wrapped, you will need to secure the lights to the poles with some packing tape. I choose clear packing tape. Even though the packing tape is 2-inches wide, you can cut it into strips. Wrap the light string every 6-12 inches of pole length. Try not to wrap the tape over the LEDs. Wrap the tape around the light string wires, not the LEDs. It's not a big deal if you do - it just makes the LEDs a little less bright. The LEDs do not put off any heat so there is no issue of melting anything.
That's it - have fun and enjoy your new illuminated poles!