Introduction: Illuminated Keyboard Hack

Picture of Illuminated Keyboard Hack
Turn your ordinary keyboard into an illuminated one for under $5. This is an easy keyboard mod that takes about 1/2 hour to do. Watch the video to see the test results and then follow the Instructable for more details. Enjoy!

Step 1: What You Need...

Picture of What You Need...

1. A Keyboard. Any keyboard will work.
2. 2 LED's. I used 5mm High-Brightness White LED (2-Pack) $1.99
Radio Shack # 276-017
3. Telephone wire. This needs to be solid core wire.
4. Heatshrink tubing. I had some in my parts bin.
5. Soldering iron and solder.
6. Wire strippers and snips.
7. Drill and small drill bit.

Step 2: Disassemble the Keyboard

Picture of Disassemble the Keyboard

Remove all the screws on the bottom of the case and remove the top. You will be looking for a small circuit board that comes from the connector.

Step 3: Modify the Circuit Board

Picture of Modify the Circuit Board

I decided to use the Scroll Lock key since that is pretty much a useless key on most PC keyboards. Locate the LED that identifies it as the Scroll Lock LED. If your keyboard does not hace a Scroll Lock key you can just as easily use the Num Lock key. De-solder the existing LED and remove it. Save it because you can never have enough LED's.

Step 4: Wire the Circuit Board

Picture of Wire the Circuit Board

Using your telephone wire, remove two strands from the outside shielding. I chose Red and Black for Positive and Negative. Solder two red wires to the + LED position on the circuit board. It should be marked which one is +. Solder two black wires to the negative contact.

Step 5: Finish the Wiring

Picture of Finish the Wiring

After drilling two small holes in the top of the keyboard, run a black and red wire through each hole and after attaching the circuit board, close up the case and screw it shut. Now twist the wires together to give them added strength.

Step 6: Final Steps

Picture of Final Steps

Take a length of heat shrink tubing and just slide it over each of your wired pairs. You can heat it up if you want to but I didn't because it looks better. The heatshrink tubing is strictly to make a cleaner final product. Now strip the two ends of your wiring and solder on your LED's paying attention to polarity. Plug in the keyboard and illuminate it by pressing the Scroll Lock key on or off! You can easily adjust the wires because they bend in any shape or position you need. Let there be light!


ishan udyoga (author)2014-05-25

i made some desktop button for this you can on/off this light any time on desktop. if you don't have Rainmeter installed. just copy paste this code in to notepad and save it .vbs format -

set WshShell = CreateObject("WScript.Shell")

WshShell.SendKeys "{NUMLOCK}"

hamzahshahid (author)2014-01-24

HI. This project is amazing. You did great work. I appreciate your working. At this site I saw the homemade USB keyboard light it is also easy and handy..

Berkin (author)2008-11-25

Can anybody tell me what the backwards "R" and the "U"connected together mean? I see that symbol on almost all circuit boards and electronics I have.

kclewis (author)Berkin2013-06-04

worleyll (author)2008-05-31

Instead of putting the lights on top, drill the holes in the back an during the day, fold them down

anghellix (author)worleyll2012-02-29

I like your idea. I was thinking more on the sides like wi-fi router antennae.

Thanks Kipkay, for contributing this simple and effective instructable.

Maxaxle (author)2011-11-28

Cool idea, though I seriously doubt I'll ever need to use my computer in the dark.

James Longpaw (author)2010-11-13

I would use my scroll lock but I figured out that my mouse changes profiles every time that I press it. so I think I'll just use the useless f-lock key.

the_burrito_master (author)2010-08-15

Nice work,I love that keyboard all these newage ones stink. I'm going to do this to my netbook (when I get it after thanksgiving) but with blue :D

eyerobot (author)2009-10-01

Iv'e been trying to think of a better way to illuminate my keyboard, Than by using a scanner bulb, And this is exactly what I needed. Thank you.

DrCoolSanta (author)2009-09-21

Awesome hack, I loved this. Gonna do this soon

Mr. Squishy (author)2009-03-17

Newer Mac laptops coome with illuminated keyboards. But how do you do this with laptops with non-illuminated keyboards?

You could connect 2 LED's with a USB but you'll need a USB port aviable. If you won't some extra information just send me a message :)

dowd95 (author)2009-05-23

Great instructable...about to go make mine

steimel386 (author)2008-12-18

I'm going to give this a try but instead of on top of the keyboard I'll see if there is enough room under/around the keys to give it a more stock look. ... I wonder if I could use spacers or something to produce more room under the keys

Millawi Legend (author)2008-11-29

cool what lse u can do is take the front of a key board a its like touch screen

agis68 (author)2008-11-25

Excellent instructable, Nice Job and CLEVER!!! 5/5

stringstretcher (author)2008-11-19

Mine works! Took 15 minutes, super big, blue LEDs and they look GREAT. Thanks for sharing!

j2020j0908 (author)2008-10-28

Sorry for posting an irrelevant comment but I think you'll find my question interesting none the less... Doesn't he sound just like Christian Bale from the movie American Psycho? LOL

ctoon6 (author)2008-10-13

i bet you could try just putting the LEDs in the keyboard instead of looping up like that

nitrox027 (author)2008-10-12

I used blue leds because when playing games there less distracting and i used paperclips instead of the wires because they are nice and clean and kind of modern looking

Derin (author)2008-08-31

Interesting idea,detailed instructable.Good job Kipkay!

friedfish1982 (author)2008-08-14

I guess i would try it if i didn't already own a Logitech g15 gaming keyboard. But i bet you spent allot less money then i did.

Rikasu (author)2008-08-14

You're my hero. You're the reason I joined this site (and all the cool stuff.)Only one word can describe you: Brilliant. One day I hope to be as creative as you.

cool! (author)2008-06-01

Great idea. Another cool thing would be to iluminate a clear keyboard from the inside.

dashman94 (author)cool!2008-06-09

It would be great if someone could find a way to wire each (or just maybe a few) specific key to where whenever you pressthat individual key it lights up, how all the wiring would still fit inside the clear keyboard, I have no idea.

Redgerr (author)dashman942008-07-16

lol that would be sick, but i doubt we have the technology to do that, unless the keaboard was like 2ft deep lol

Joe Martin (author)Redgerr2008-08-08

Thats very easy to do the only problem would be getting the legs of the led to stick the the silly "ciruct board printed on cling film" thing they use in keyboards. Thinking about this in my head it would be very easy as theres plenty of room inside each keycap for an led, I'll just have to look out for a clear keyboard at a boot sale soon. P.S Sorry would upload the pictures of my lit keyboard but my card reader is playing up!

Redgerr (author)Joe Martin2008-08-12

lol ya, i have a keabord that lights up from underneath.. i was just talking about when you press it it lights up :O now that i think about it it could aswell :O welp, lol thanks :)

emuman4evr (author)cool!2008-06-05

Lol, I had the exact same thought. Youd just put the LEDs under the two home keys (F&J; for you typing illeterates).

Bartboy (author)2008-05-30

cool! one problem, if u have the light on and dont want scroll lock on.

Kipkay (author)Bartboy2008-05-30

What do you use the scroll lock for? Have you EVER used it? I know I haven't. In fact if you ask most people, most have no idea what it does.

Yerboogieman (author)Kipkay2008-05-31

Whats does scroll lock do? Also, what voltage are the LED's?

REA (author)Yerboogieman2008-08-10

scroll lock alows you to scroll through a long page using the arrow keys. it was a handy tool during the DOS era.

AT (author)Yerboogieman2008-05-31

Not much! But it is used in a few applications. If you go way back, it was common to use it in a spreadsheet program (Lotus 123 or Excel) to move the spreadsheet around without moving out of the cell with focus. Try it next time you are in Excel. Turn on Scroll Lock and use the arrow keys and the whole spreadsheet will move but the cell with focus will keep focus.

Kipkay (author)AT2008-05-31

Key words "go way back". LOL! Thanks for the info!

Kipkay (author)Yerboogieman2008-05-31

Standard voltage. 3.3V.

cormac3050 (author)Kipkay2008-08-08

ummm...... what does scroll lock do????

REA (author)cormac30502008-08-10

Wiki entry: "Scroll lock is a key (often with an associated status light) on most modern computer keyboards. The behavior of the key depends on the particular software in use. The scroll lock key is a remnant from the original IBM PC keyboard. In the original design, scroll lock was intended to modify the behavior of the arrow keys. When the scroll lock mode was on, the arrow keys would scroll the contents of a text window instead of moving the cursor. In this usage, scroll lock is a modifier key like Alt and Shift (which modify the function of other keys) and, more specifically, a toggling lock key like Num Lock or Caps Lock, which have a state that persists after the key is released. Today, this particular use of scroll lock is rare. Only a few modern programs still honor this behavior, such as Microsoft Excel (in the behavior of arrows — when scroll lock is on, the selection does not move), Lotus Notes and Forté Agent. In modern GUI environments, scrolling is usually accomplished using means such as scrollbars or scroll wheels. Therefore scroll lock can be regarded as a defunct feature in almost all modern programs and operating systems; some keyboards lack scroll lock altogether. Scroll lock has fallen into such extremely infrequent use that some of the lighter-weight Linux desktop environments don't even support it at all, such as Xfce."

Xial (author)Kipkay2008-05-31

It's used in FL Studio, actually, to control scrolling of a play area. Because of that, I would have to use my NumLock light instead of the Scroll Lock, since I always have NumLock on at night. :)

Bartboy (author)Kipkay2008-05-30

Yeah, you're right, but surely it does something? Maybe?

lefouduparadis (author)2008-07-25

If u add some spring inside the shrink tube it will help bending the way u want to

mikemolly (author)2008-07-23

Thank You! I just finished my keyboard and it works perfect.

scopevisions (author)2008-06-20

nice `table inspired me to do ...
sometimes you need light , sanding off the board will be nice if I AM THE ONLY USER ...
c ya .

benthekahn (author)2008-06-17

I made a color-changing-USB-powered light that can light up my laptop keys.

twistaze (author)2008-06-06

or you could do what i did and but a logitech G11 or G15 they light up blue ever key does.

RichardBronosky (author)2008-06-06

Brilliant idea! Unfortunately, I have to suggest the exact opposite. I would suggest that you take an old keyboard and take sand paper to the keys. Give it a few weeks (of pure frustrating hell) and you will be just as good typing in the dark as you are in the light.

hunter13309214 (author)2008-06-06

why isn't ford and GM and all the rest of the industries hunting you guy's down to "free think" for their cars and trucks, then maybe we'd have the kind of transportation we all need and could afford. brilliant minds are desperately needed NOW!!!!!

powerfool (author)2008-06-05

It's beautiful, nice idea, nice implementation! Question: What is the heatshrink tubing? where do you think I could get some? I'm not sure how I should ask for it in Greece (where I live...). Greetings, Dimitris

About This Instructable




Bio: Tinkerer, hackster and prankster. Hit me up on Facebook: Thanks for checking out my Instructables!
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