May 2, 2011

Weekend Mod

This post is dedicated to a quick mod I did to a piece of equipment I had lying around on my bench. Anyone with some level of dedication to home electronics will probably recognize the “helping hands” and magnifier combo in this picture.

Mine was too cumbersome to use as an all-in-one tool but I did like the alligator clips mounted on the posts because they were useful for tricky soldering jobs. I decided to modify the magnifier piece to include more LEDs with a better driver circuit and mount the magnifier onto an old Luxo lamp from the 70’s I had in a junk box. This post will largely be a photo montage of my progress.

This is the crappy circuit that was originally in the magnifier. It’s mostly made up of flimsy wire and cheap LEDs.

I took the LEDs from an old string that was meant to be mounted underneath a bed. There was some internal drive circuitry that I also ripped out to use in place of batteries.

The pictures to the left show the battery cover on the magnifier. I drilled a hole in the cover and mounted the DC input jack on top so that the driver circuitry would be hidden once the final product was assembled.

Originally, the magnifier casing was silver like the battery cover. I painted the rest black to get a cool two-color scheme going. I also drilled about 6 additional holes around the bottom side to mount some more LEDs.

This is a picture of all the new LEDS wired up and held in place with a little bit of hot glue. The red and black wires are power and ground respectively and feed back to the drive circuitry mounted under the battery cover. I also added the magnifier lens back in.

These are a few pictures of the assembled unit with the new lights. The black wire coming out of the top of the battery compartment is the power supply equipped with a SPST switch so I can easily switch the LEDs off or on without having to unplug anything.

 The final (sort of) product! I took the metal frame from an old lamp and painted it black to match the scheme on the magnifier. In the future, I am going to create a swivel base so that I can rotate the magnifier when I need to use it. As of right now the lens piece rotates on a sphere so I can position it to any angle and lock it in place with a wing nut and screw I have holding the lens to the metal frame. I wanted to post this because I made it completely from stuff I had lying around my house in only a few hours. As much as I enoy building a circuit from scratch, I am continuously amazed by the hacker/maker community and the incredible projects they create out of other people’s garbage. It may not be up to the quality level of a store bought magnifier, but it cost me $0 as opposed to $100+ for retail.


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