Introduction: Cheap Bright Head-Mounted Magnifier
I've tried several inexpensive head-mounted magnifiers and had the same problem with all of them: getting enough light onto what I'm doing. The builtin lights are too dim. A separate light is awkward and often casts shadows where I want to see.
LED lights and Lithium-ion batteries have made bright headlamps accessible and affordable. Mounting a bright headlamp onto head-mounted magnifiers solved my problem. The light is bright and lines up nicely to illuminate what I'm working on.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
First step - buy a magnifier and a headlamp*
I've used these magnifiers for quite a while: They offer three levels of magnification and are reasonably comfortable. I wear them over my glasses. For my particular eyes, the area of focus is 7 inches from my eyes with low magnification, 5 inches with high magnification and 4 inches with the loupe. This means holding things closer than usual to work on them.
I bought this head lamp based on positive reviews. It's very bright, and the beam can be adjusted by pulling the lens in and out. The weight of the lamp and the battery compartment balance each other nicely when they're mounted on the front and back of the magnifier. I don't feel comfortable leaving it plugged in to charge - I make sure to disconnect it after a few hours.
There are lots of similar headlamps available. The base of this particular lamp is easy to mount on this particular magnifier. The lamp pivots up and down on the base, which allows me to point it where I want.
* No, I did not receive any pay or free products or Amazon kickbacks or anything.
You'll also need a few zip ties, a handheld drill, needle nose pliers and some improvised tubing (see step 7).
Step 2: Remove the Magnifier's Light
The magnifier comes with a tiny LED light, which hinges in front. Tip it up vertically and remove it.
Step 3: Remove Straps From Headlamp
Remove the elastic straps from the lamp and its battery compartment. Unclip the coiled electric cord from the elastic strap.
Step 4: Drill Holes to Mount Lamp
The magnifier now has a rectangular flat space where the light was. Drill a hole in the two back corners. Size the hole according to the zip ties you'll use. I used smallish zip ties that fit in a 5/32 hole.
Step 5: Mount Lamp to Magnifier
Thread zip ties as shown through the holes you drilled in the magnifier and the side brackets of the "base" of the lamp. (White zip tie is show for clarity - I actually used black ones.)
Be careful not to catch the headband in the zip ties!
Take turns tightening the two zip ties until the lamp fits snugly, then brace the zip tie with needle-nose pliers while pulling tight. Clip off excess.
Step 6: Drill Holes to Mount Battery Compartment
The back of the magnifier is a lightweight plastic casing with a dial to adjust the size of the headband strap.
You'll drill holes to mount the battery compartment to the headband casing.
First, turn the dial counter-clockwise to make the headband as large as possible.
Drill a hole through each end of the casing 2 inches away from the center, sized to fit the zip ties you're using.
Drill carefully and try to drill each surface of the casing separately, to avoid nicking the headband strap as it goes through the casing. Second picture shows a nicked strap.
Step 7: Prepare Battery Compartment for Mounting
The battery compartment needs to be adapted to allow it to be mounted on the headband casing.
I made tubing by cutting sections of the outer insulation of a power cord, 5/16 inch diameter and 5/8 of an inch long.
I slipped the tubes onto the side brackets of the battery compartment (which had held the elastic straps), then pulled them down to cover the opening in the bracket.
Step 8: Mount the Battery Compartment
Loop the zip ties as shown through the back of tubing on the bracket of the battery compartment. (White zip tie shown for clarity.)
Leave the zip ties fairly loose, just tight enough to keep the battery compartment in position. If you snug them down tightly, the battery compartment will cover the dial that adjusts the size of the headband.
Good luck - I hope this illuminated magnifier works well for you!
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