Introduction: 100% Clear Light-up Journal

Hello fellow DIY enthusiasts -
     Have you ever needed to write in a journal without having a lot of light on in the room? A night car trip, sibling trying to sleep in same room, or taking notes during a top-secret stake out? Then this Instructable is for you!!!

If you like this Instructable, be sure to vote for it on the "Make it Grow" challenge!

     This Instructable will show you how to construct a 100% clear (cover, pages, etc.) journal that lights up with two brightness settings so you can write/read at night.  And, with the pages of the book being clear, it has a really neat look when it is closed as you start filling in pages. And there is no need to be concerned about privacy issues - after the first few pages are filled in, it is next to impossible to read from the outside when closed.

      I actual got the idea for this project from a misunderstanding as I was walking though the store one day. A display that read "Light Up Journals" caught my eye, and I immediately thought it was something like this. When I went and looked at it, however, it was just a normal journal with a book light attached. As I was walking away disappointed, I stopped and thought "Wait - that's a good idea! I bet I could make one of those..." Thus, this project.

     Ready? Let's get started!

Step 1: Parts List

Below is everything you will need for this project:

Parts List:
   1. 3M Transparency Film for laser printers (Walmart; Office Depot)
   2. 22 gauge wire - solid core or stranded does not make a difference (RadioShack)
   3. High-strength fishing line (Walmart)
   4. MN21 / A23 Battery holder (RadioShack)
   5. MN21 / A23 Battery (RadioShack)
   6. Extra-fine point Sharpie (Walmart)
   7. Resistors - 620 ohm (Blue, red, brown) & 4700 ohm (yellow, violet, red) (RadioShack)
   8. 2 Mini-switches - I used 3-way, but 2 way would work just fine (RadioShack)
   9. 3 high-intensity white LEDs (RadioShack)
   10. 1/8" Plexiglas cut into 3 pieces - 5.75"x7", 5"x7", & 0.75"x7" (Lowes; they will cut this for you)
   11. Clear packing tape (not shown) (Walmart)

Tools List:
   1. Soldering Iron
   2. Drill
   3. Drill bits
   4. Ruler
   5. Solder
   6. Hot glue gun
   7. Wire Snips
   8. Clips to hold components being soldered
   9. Paper cutter
   10. Needle-nose pliers
   11. Binder clips (not shown)
Optional:
   12. Wire strippers (or use knife)
   13. Multimeter (to troubleshoot)

Note 1: I did not end up using the white paint shown in the photo below.

Note 2: I experimented with many different kinds of pens and transparencies - the ones in the parts list above were the only ones I found that write well without streaking. If you cannot find those exact types, there may be other combinations that work; you will just have to experiment (before you build the journal!)

SAFETY NOTE!
In making this journal, you will be working with several potential dangerous tools - keep the following in mind:
     1. When soldering or using the hot glue gun, these tools are very hot. Wear gloves, especially with the hot glue gun since any glue that gets on your skin will stick there and burn.
     2. Whenever you melt plastic (the notch in the Plexiglas and one side off of the battery holder), MAKE SURE you do this in a well-ventilated area - many plastics are known to release toxic fumes when they melt.
     3. Wear gloves when using the drill, and be aware of what is underneath what you are drilling. I used a scrap piece of wood under my project so it would not matter if I went all the way through.

Step 2: Solder the Circuit

The circuit for this project is very simple - just 2 switches, 2 resistors, 3 LEDs, and a battery. For the wire connecting everything, I used white just because it seemed to be more in keeping with a clear journal.

First, lay out all your parts on the Plexiglas cover about where you want them. Reference the photos in the next step to see where I placed my switches, etc.

Second, using the schematic below as a reference to see what parts need wires connecting them, cut wire lengths to fit and strip the ends of the wire. This is key, getting just the right length and no more - there is just not room in the spine of this book for extra wire. Speaking of conserving room, see photo below for how I attached the resistors directly to the switch. Lots of connections will be close to each other, but that is OK - in the next step we will be fixing it so they never touch.

Third, using mini alligator clips to hold everything together while you work, solder each connection. When you are finished, it is going to look like you just created a rat's nest on the table (see photo below). Before you go to the next step of installing the circuit in the journal, pop a battery in the holder just to make sure everything is working (look to make sure no connections are touching first!)

Step 3: Glue Circuit to Plexiglas and Cut Pages

Using the series of photos below as a guide, hot glue your circuit down to the 5"x7" piece of Plexiglas that will be the back cover. Using little dabs of glue to fasten everything down, stick the battery in one more time and make everything lights up like it should. Once that is confirmed, hot glue the living daylights out of the circuit. This is not only making sure it is completely secure, but also encasing the soldered connections and wires so that there is never a danger of a connection touching another connection and shorting something out. The photos below are at the "Dab" stage, see later steps for the finalized version.

Now to cut the pages. Measure the back cover to see how much room you have left after gluing the circuit - if you kept the circuit tidy and compact, you should have room for 5-1/8" x 6-7/8" pages (by leaving a hair on all sides so the pages do not overlap the cover). Using a page cutter, like the one shown on the Intro step, cut as many pages as you want in your book. I found it best to use a small piece of masking tape on the page cutter to mark where to align the page so I did not have to find the exact tiny mark each time.


NOTE: You can make this book as thick as you like - for me, however, I liked a relatively thin 5/16" worth of pages (82 sheets). In order to accommodate this, and to make it easy to change the battery as needed, I removed one side of the batter holder (using my soldering iron to melt the plastic away) and made a corresponding hole in the front cover (using the drill) as shown in the next step.

Step 4: Prepare and Hinge Front Cover

The remaining two pieces of Plexiglas will become the front cover. The thin piece will be hinged with clear packing tape to become part of the spine.

NOTE: As mentioned in the previous step, I cut a notch out of the smaller piece to make it easy to change the battery. I did this by marking on the plastic where I wanted to cut with the Sharpie, then using a narrow drill bit in the drill I pressed the Plexiglas against the side of the bit as it was running. This is just one way to do it - if you have a router, that would obviously be a better way of doing it, or you could even use the soldering iron to melt it away like I did for the battery holder.

To hinge the two pieces of Plexiglas together, first align them on the table as if the book were lying face up on the table. Then use scissors to cut the packing tape (so the ends are not jagged, making it possible for the tape to tear at the cover joint), and lay a strip all down the seam. Now pick up the two pieces and allow the smaller piece to flop over (as shown in the second photo). Keeping it in this position, place another piece of tape up one side, over the two edges, and down the other side. It is important to do it like this, because if you just flipped them over and tape the backside like you did the front, they would not "hinge."

Step 5: Attach Front Cover

Almost finished!

Using binder clips all around three edges, clamp the back cover, pages, and front cover together. Using a 1/16" drill bit, make holes all the way through the spine as shown below, making sure to not put holes directly in front of where the LED's are going to be shining into the pages.

Using the fishing line as thread, bind everything together by threading it through the holes as many times as possible (I could get 4 passes through the 1/16" holes), using the needle nose pliers as necessary to push it through the holes and then pull it tight. Once you have threaded it as much as you can, cut the fishing line leaving about 1/4". Lay this remaining bit down and fasten it with a dab of hot glue.

Step 6: Finished!

You did it! You created a clear journal that you will make you the envy of people everywhere. Just pop in the battery and you are ready to go!

Remember, if you liked this Instructable, please vote for it on the "Make It Glow" contest - thanks!

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