Introduction: Blue LED Mouse

Picture of Blue LED Mouse

Tired of that standard red light under your mouse? Switch it out!
all you need is a soldering iron (and preferably a desoldering tool as well), a multimeter, and the color led you want (and possibly a resistor).

I used a cheap $10 Ativa brand mouse from Office Depot, and a blue led (3.4V 8000mcd).
This particular LED will NOT be available at your local radio shack, I specially order a batch a while back since it is a low voltage blue LED. (and quite bright too)

You can use any color of LED you want, as long as the rated voltage is 4V or lower and the luminosity is around 4000 - 8000 mcd.

I've recently (Mar-5-08) put a UV LED in a cheap HP mouse I got a while back to mod. After overriding the resistor, the mouse pumps out the 5 volts require to blast the 3.4v led. It needs a small resistor, as it frequently starts to overheat and will stop responding for a few seconds.
Kinda strange, though it makes since with UV light, the mouse works fine as long as it's not on a black surface.
As any kid who's fooled around with a blacklight will know, black objects barely show up if at all. Naturally, the light is not reflected to the eye, and the mouse is blind on very dark surfaces.

Step 1: Disassembly

Picture of Disassembly

unscrew the top panel from the base.
The screws are usually hidden under the mouse's "feet", or those little black pads.
Once they're out, there may be a locking tab you have to push to pry the panel off.

If you get a cheap mouse, the inner components will be nice and big and easy to work with. the fancy ones will have capacitors and resistors that measure about 2mm x 4mm x 1mm. Those are not fun to place and re-solder.

Step 2: Test Your LED

Picture of Test Your LED

Before tearing anything out, make sure the LED will work.

To do this, plug in the mouse and simply touch the leads from your LED to the same corresponding leads of the one thats already installed.
Make sure you have the leads correct; it is a diode and only works one way.

The red LED found in most standard mice is a 1.7V rated diode, and that resistor is holding the power down to that level so the LED doesn't overheat and burn out.

If your LED does not light up, and you have it positioned correctly, then it is not receiving enough power.
Mine was not getting enough power using this method.

Connect a multimeter to the leads of the installed LED to see how much voltage is actually going across it -both at idle and when the mouse is moved.
If you are not getting enough power for the LED you want to put in, use the multimeter to see how much power you would have if you override the resistor.
To do this, place the black prod from the multimeter on the anode of the led (negative side) and the red prod on the other side of the resistor than the LED is connected to.

Conveniently enough with this mouse, the voltages were (I believe) about 3.2V at idle and 5V when moving.
To test the override, reposition your LED in the same place you just put the multimeter.

As you can see, the two LEDs had consistent luminosities.

If your LED still won't light up, find a lower voltage LED.
If your LED is too bright, consider some smaller resistors to replace the installed one with.

Ultraviolet LEDs have the lowest wavelength, and thusly the highest voltage required to light em.
Blue LEDs are the next down on the list
Followed by Green and the rest of the visible light spectrum in it's order.
Red are just the most common used because they consume the least power other than Infrared. I don't believe infrared light can be sensed by a standard mouse eye though. (some higher end mice do have infrared LEDs)

To find the right resistor without guessing, you'll need some good ol' evil- i mean... math.

You have resistance (r), voltage (V), and current (I, uppercase "i")
The resistance is measured in ohms, the voltage in volts, and the current in amps.
Current = Voltage/resistance -or- I = V / r

the circuit in mice will usually be running at .02 amps. So the resistance you need to drop the voltage by half a volt (.5V) can be expressed by the equation:
r = V / I
r = .5 / .02
r = 25 ohms

so you would need a 25 ohm resistor in that case.

Here's an easy calculator for power and resistance and such:

Step 3: Replacement

Picture of Replacement

Once you have the correct resistor (if needed), go ahead and take out the pcb (that brown or green board holding all of the components). It's held in usually by a few screws and possibly a few more locking tabs.

It should be fairly easy, especially with big components, to find the LED and the resistor that chokes the power going to it.

Use the desoldering tool to heat up and suck the solder off of the the leads to the LED and resistor (from the underside).
Bend and clip your LED's leads to match the red LED's.

If you need an override for the resistor's spot, the freshly clipped LED leads will work just fine.

Place your pieces in the correct holes and solder them in. The desoldering tool can work for this, but using a normal soldering iron will do a better job.

Step 4: Test and Reassembly

Picture of Test and Reassembly

Go ahead and plug the mouse in and if the light comes on, mount the pcb back into the base.
Get the cord back into it's slot through the base, and screw the top back on.

If the mouse's feet will not stick back on over the hidden screws, regular emblem mounting glue, super glue, or even silicone sealant will work to stick them back in their place.

The light is one idle in the 2nd from the last picture, and is active in the last one.


zikicamiskovic (author)2010-11-24

did the blue led work like red or?

Ollus (author)zikicamiskovic2011-10-19

today i did this mod with white led i got from a flashlight cigarette lighter :) it is more precise, but it has to be flat on white surface. Blue and violet (not UV) work the best though :-)

jtc10512 (author)2011-03-24

LOL did this to match the color scheme of my computer and i didnt even see this instructable before I did it. I just ripped a spare blue LED from an LED christmas light set i had.

Mavamaarten (author)2010-06-27

I tried this with an infrared LED, and it worked :) It looks like the mouse is dead, but it still works ... Sooo kewl :D

zim_256 (author)2010-06-23

The mouse sensor is a CMOS sensor and it works best with red and infrared light. If you change the led to another color, you are really decreasing the sensitivity and accuracy of your mouse. Also if you use some of the "high brightness" LED's, you're over-saturating the sensor with extra light and again decreasing the performance in the worst case, the best case will be that the mouse sensor has an automatic feedback circuit to control the light the sensor receives and if you put a really bright led, the control will reduce the brightness to avoid saturating the sensor, so the led will be no brighter than the stock led.

Briguy9 (author)2009-07-21

I have one of those IR mice. It has the same thing on the bottom as a red LED, but it's in a little hole and it's tiny, and no light coming from it. Also, it works like the best mouse i've ever had. Another thing: It's wireless!

Briguy9 (author)Briguy92009-07-21

Actually I just looked at it and if you look at from the perfect angle you can see a tiiny red led pulsating on and off at about 6 times per second.

lilpepsikraker (author)Briguy92009-12-17

That's not IR you are seeing. Look through your digital camera/cell phone camera, you should see the IR light being emitted, as cameras can "see" IR light.

junits15 (author)2009-07-17

wouldn't it be cool to use a UV led? I think that would be awsome especially if you put it on a UV sensitive mousepad!

geeklord (author)2009-06-13

If all the LED's in the spectrum work fine, I'm geussing that companies choose red, because it is the cheapest. Green and Red are cheaper than Blue an White.

NetReaper (author)2008-06-12

So if red works great and blue works ehh, than green should be fine because it's a middle wavelength. Right?

guribe94 (author)NetReaper2009-01-19

any led will work because all the light is doing is allowing the camera on the bottom of the mouse to see so any color you want will work it has nothing to do with wavelengths

bennielava (author)NetReaper2009-01-01

Green works. Tried it with success.

Technoled (author)2008-09-02

Here is the Blue Optical LED Mouse site where you can modify your USB mouse or buy a blue one : Blue LED Mouse

Redgerr (author)2008-07-18

lol i never even thought of changing out the led. lol, i might actually do this one before i get a new mouse if im not lazy and dont get the parts, thanks for putting this idea into my head lol

Zaione (author)2008-07-06

Well i'm now a proud owner of microsoft mouse with a white led of 6V while the red one only uses a 5V so I think I did wel there XD

lol it gives the feeling to be more accurate =S

alex_verity (author)2008-06-23

Great instructable i decided to try it out my led required no added resistors it is smaller than the original but it works fine.


thevadj (author)2008-03-20

Would one of the multi-color LED work? You could have an every color mouse

NetReaper (author)thevadj2008-06-12

ya, i saw one of those on Amazon. Thats a great idea!

gb78 (author)2008-05-15

I just did it to an old USB mouse after reading this instructable (very nice, BTW). It looks cool, but now it doesn't move the cursor when over my desk as it used to, thou works very well over light blue and orange surfaces. I have other optical mice which work over the same desk (a gray-like white), and that got me very curious. I didn't override the 100ohm resistor feeding the led, and the bright seems just the same as the previous red led. I believe this is more about wavelength than amount of light, but anyway, anyone got any clue?

DeLorean4905 (author)gb782008-05-19

Yeah, after the UV mouse experiment, i'm beginning to think that mice companies chose red for more than just low power consumption. my UV mouse works great so long as I don't pass it over anything black. I have a red light in my room for when i just want low light, because you can still see a great deal even though it's dim, your eyes don't need to adjust much when the light turns off. I think you're right, since Blue is so close to UV in the spectrum, the short wavelength may be to blame. But it looks cool, and THAT"S whats important! lol

Yerboogieman (author)2008-02-12

what if its a 3v LED?

well... if you're going to be moving the mouse around a lot, like a really involved game, you might consider putting a resistor (my guess is something like 100 ohms should lower it by about 2 volts at 20mA). otherwise, when the mouse is active, it applies the full voltage of 5.x volts,which will cause a 3v LED to overheat if it's on for more than, say, a few minutes straight.

well generally thats what you want to use, assuming you remove the resistor leading to the LED' position on the board

GorillazMiko (author)2008-02-06

What if I use a higher than 4v voltage blue LED, but add in a higher resistor?

well if the LED is rated for a higher voltage, then it will take more power to light it up. So you would have to use a lighter resistor, if any at all. If it is higher than 4, you probably won't need a resistor. Also, an LED will do fine being powered by more voltage than it's rated for, but it will get hot and burn out if too much voltage is passed across it. I think the general rule is something like 20% above the rated voltage should be fine without heat. The life of the LED may be shortened though.

jonny_s (author)2008-01-29

great idea, and I was excited to see that someone else had the Altoids tin mouse idea as well, I made one a while back. It may soon become a blue LED Altoids mouse...

richms (author)2008-01-28

I did this and it became really sensitive to what surface the mouse was on. i used a variable resistor inplace of the stock one and no adjustment of the brightness was as universally good as the stock red led. I then put in an infra red LED like a remote uses - now there is no visable glow at all. I like that more because the flash across the wall when you pick up and reposition the mouse is really annoying at night time.

LinuxH4x0r (author)2008-01-28

Cool! I got the same mouse and did the same thing, but i took it out. I'm going to pack in a few more red ones later. Nice job!

killerjackalope (author)2008-01-28

I'll happily test the UV leds I have some here off a USB hub mouse mat thingy... I'll post the result... if it takes any extra work other wise just use your as base...

Thanks! the only one I have at the moment is in a little key chain UV MiniMag sort of thing.

I used the led to try and make the mouse move by illuminating with it and i worked so I'll do the hack at some point this week and see if it lives, they're good high powered ones the same diameter as the original whic helps...


!Andrew_Modder! (author)2008-01-28

i did this once. it broke my mouse, like it just did not move right and it lagged. but i think i didnt use a high enouf powered LED ( i just got a random blue one from radio-shack.)

The lag could be caused from several things: - like you said, low power - the distance of the eye from the surface having changed (it's amazing how touchy these can be) - or one of the components getting too hot during modification - I'm sure there are more possibilities, these are just what come to mind. On the distance between eye and surface, the altoids mouse was a pain to get it just right. But once it was at the right level, it worked fine. I've been using that mouse for about 2 years now. (saw one like it in PopSci a long time ago and thought it was cool. but i don't know if that one was a LED or ball)

GorillazMiko (author)2008-01-28

WOW! Amazing Instructable! It looks great, and I like the Altoids tin with the Curious George on it. My mouse isn't the see through kind, but the scroller has a red light, so I'll try to make it blue. Awesome Instructable! +1 rating. (added to favorites)


darth2o (author)2008-01-28

I actually think that optical mice are at optimum efficiency with red LED's. Does it still work?

DeLorean4905 (author)darth2o2008-01-28

Well I made this mouse about a year ago and tried adding something to it... I think I tried to see if it would fit inside of an altoids tin to make another one -it didn't- and i got one of the components too hot so it died. I believe the infrared mice are the most efficient, but you can't tell if they're on or not. Plus the lights are pretty! jk The red ones should be the next most efficient

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