iCan Party Light



The videos and photos don't do this justice. The human eye has persistence of vision, so the colors "linger" a bit more than the camera can show. What you see above as a single white square is, to the human eye, flashing red-blue-green. Also, the light is brighter and more vibrant to the human eye. It's mesmerizing.

You get a sense of what the eye sees as the can begins to swing in the last video above. There's no camera or editing trickery there; the colors just "separate" due to the motion.

The process of popping holes in the can is fun too; it's better than bubble wrap!

Demo Video


This one is as easy as it looks. You just poke a grid of holes around the can and on its top and bottom.


Before putting holes in the top or side of the can, you'll want to put an array of holes in the inverted-dome bottom surface. (I like a hex pattern, personally, with a center hole.) We start with the bottom surface because it's the strongest part of the can. The can's bottom will need to take a lot of impact force, and you'll need the sides of the can to be strong. If instead you were to weaken the entire can-structure by putting lots of holes in the can's side, it would collapse or bend out of shape as you hammered-in your bottom holes.

To make your bottom-holes, you'll just use a hammer to nail-in (hammer-in?) a nail until it pokes through and makes a hole. If you have the finger-and-hand strength, I recommend putting pushpin holes in first in order to locate the spots where you'll make your larger nail-holes. The trick to using the pushpin is to twist the pushpin tip clockwise-and-counterclockwise (i.e., back and forth) under pressure over the same spot until the material abrades-away enough for the tip to push through.

For the metal lid, I recommend that you make an array of holes by hammering-in a small nail. If you're using a plastic lid, then of course you don't need any holes at all. The entire top will glow.

When making holes in the side of the can, the technique is different. To keep the sides of the can from denting, you'll want to put pushpins in the top and bottom of the Aluminator all around its circumference. This way, the sides of the can will be held taut from top to bottom as you punch. [The next version of the Aluminator will have a ring of holes around its circumference at the bottom, too.] Be careful when you're punching holes in the side of the can that's closest to the lid or bottom; since the material there is tougher, it's easy to dent as you're applying more force. For the bottom ring of holes, you might want to start with pushpin holes before enlarging them with the slider.

When working on the side of the can, I like to start in the middle, since this is the most dentable part of the can,. If perfection is your goal, then I recommend that you poke a starter hole with a pushpin, then use the slider to enlarge it. This puts less strain on the can, so you're less likely to dent it in. Also, I find that fast pokes do less denting-in on the can.

The technique for putting a half-panel rotation in the can is simple. Insert pushpins in both holes in the sleeve. Remove them. Lift up the can a few millimeters so you can see both holes in the can (each, a "can-hole"). Rotate the can until the second can-hole is above the first hole in the sleeve (a "sleeve-hole"). Reinsert. Gently use a pushpin in the first sleeve-hole to find the second can-hole. When they are aligned, reinsert the pushpin in the first sleeve-hole and through the can. Then insert a pushpin in the second can-hole to better anchor the can in the sleeve, since the original can-holes may now be a bit loose.

If you like, you can mark the side of the slots in the Aluminator at pre-determined intervals using a ruler. This way, you can more easily create a regular cylindrical grid of holes. Or, you can make something like this with one or more spikes:

Hanging and Lighting It

Sometimes the drink-hole in the top of the can is too small to insert your lights. You can enlarge the top using the slider as shown in the video. This takes a lot of bit of force, and you have to angle the slider so it hits the wall at about a 45-degree angle, then push in. It might be easiest to just open the lid with a can opener.

If you want to hang the can so it rotates freely, you can tie dental floss or black string/thread to the tab of the can. The can's tab is fairly fragile, so I recommend that you replace the tab with a picture hook like this:

You can remove the tab by fatiguing-off the metal (bend it back and forth until it pops off from the metal weakening at the bend point). Then pop a pushpin hole in the very center of the lid from the outside-to-inside direction. Then screw-in the brass picture hook, but be careful not to overtighten it or the hole will expand too much and be near-useless. The hook is readily removed (because the aluminum bends easily), so you may consider using (i) hot glue or (ii) superglue or (ii) a "nut" made of plastic straw segments on the reverse side to lock it in place.

The blue light you see in the photos is a finger-mounted LED. The flashing red-green-blue light is a LED bracelet that I twisted inside the can in a helix shape.

The purple LED in the photo came from a light-up balloon I bought at Walmart, inverted, and threaded through the can's tab. These LEDs only last about a day, and they don't have rechargable or easily-replaced batteries.

The hangable, remote-control, color-changing LEDs I bought here on Amazon.


If you're wanting to write words or drawings on the side of the can with holes, so that they light up with your message, that's easily done. First write your message in marker on the side of the can where the dot-lettering will appear.

Then remove the top lid by using the can opener. Aggressively stuff old socks or shop rags into the can with pressure until it bulges slightly. Then lock the rags in the can under pressure by pressing the plastic lid on the top until it grabs the rim on all sides. The idea is that the uniform pressure of the rags against the inside wall of the can will keep the can's metal from deforming or denting as you poke your holes.

Then poke your holes in your letters or drawings. Take care to hit the endpoints of the letters first, and make the dot-spacing a bit closer together where you have curves. It's best to practice holemaking that you have two kinds of holes you can punch: a normal hole made by fully penetrating the can with the tip and shaft of the pushpin, and a smaller hole made by partially inserting the tip.

If you want to to turn the can into a projector, then you need to punch the mirror image of your letters in the can. Then open a hole in the back wall through which you can shine a pinpoint light source, like a cell phone flashlight, or a very bright LED. Then cast the image against a wall.


Turn on a finger-LED. Enclose it in a ziplock bag. Stuff it partway in the iCan Party Light. Blow in a little air into the bag. Seal it up. Insert if fully in the can. Now float that baby in the pool.

Attach a string of dental floss to the can's tab. Swing it in a circle. If the LED is one of the multi-color flashing kind, you'll get the color separation shown in the video.

The disco light makes a great cover for a homemade nightlight.

Wal-Mart sells a disposable LED light-up balloon for about $0.80 per balloon. You can invert the balloon to expose the imbedded LED device and then pass it into the can. Thread the balloon through the tab of the can. Then pull the activation strip to light the LED for 12 or so hours (then it dies, and you can't replace the batteries). You can either blow up the balloon or hang it from a ceiling or light. You'll recognize the following as a lit version of the photo above:

The disco light looks best with a bright LED, but a softer tealight candle sets a nice mood.