But blue-light light boxes are expensive. So I decided to try making a low-cost alternative version with flexible LED strips. It turns out to be very easy to build one into a mint tin. (I can't get Altoids where I live, but there's a locally available knockoff whose tins are the same size.)
I've used mine for several months now, and I'm having much less trouble with my SAD than I did with my bright-white light box. Also, I kind of like the tiny, tidy package of it.
This project requires you to be able to solder.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
1. Mint tin. I can't get Altoids tins where I live, but these are precisely the same size and construction. I used a blue one, for obvious reasons.
2. 45 cm of self-adhesive blue flexible LED tape, plus connector and adapter. You need the stuff that's made to be cut into 5-cm lengths and soldered together. I can get 50cm and a connector for €4 and an adapter for €9 (plus shipping and handling). I don't know prices outside of my area.
3. Cardboard: you'll need at least twice the footpring of the mint tin, about 2mm (1/16") thick.
4. 3 plastic bottle caps to use as spacers inside the box. (If you don't have the right size, you can layer up cardboard instead.)
5. Wire to connect the LED circuit. I used jumper wires for breadboarding, which are really, really easy to work with. With more patience, you could use ordinary wire.
6. Wire to tie the cord down. Its electrical conductivity isn't important. Its ability to hold stuff together when twisted is.
7. About 3" of ribbon to make the tab to pull the LED panel up for maintenance purposes
8. (not shown -- forgot to get this out for the photo) translucent plastic for the diffuser. I bought mine from a local art supply store. It's about 1mm thick, stiff, and looks frosted.
4. Awl, for piercing the tin
5. Pliers to cut wire and crimp
6. Needle-nosed pliers. Actually used because their closed jaws are a good cone to widen a hole in the tin.
7. Soldering iron, solder and soldering iron holder
Not shown: glues (ribbon to cardboard, bottle caps to cardboard)