Instructables

Kindle 3 DIY Light

Picture of Kindle 3 DIY Light
5476904093_3824974534.jpg
The Kindle 3 uses a screen technology that looks almost like glossy magazine print.  What makes it remarkable and so easy to read is that it uses ambient light to illuminate the screen rather than a back light.  The quality of the image is fantastic in normal reading conditions, but gets difficult to read in low light situations.   
Amazon, in their great redesign of this product has thoughtfully included an in-built power source to run a light.  For a mere $60 Amazon provides a light-equipped leather cover that can tap into the power source.  
This Instructable will show you how to tap into the power source and build your own lighted cover.

Difficulty: Moderate

For some reason the photo notes feature broke half way through this instructable.  If something is unclear, please post a question and I will do my best to clarify.  Hopefully the feature will be unbroken in the future and I can add some more helpful notes.

(By the way, I haven't been here in a while and I'm disappointed to find that Instructables is trying to sell "PRO" formatting features to the people that actually GENERATE their content for FREE.  Lame.)

TOOLS:
* Google SketchUp (not needed, but helpful for viewing and manipulating plans)
* printer
* dremel tool with rotary cutting, routing, and grinding bits
* vice
* safety glasses
* ear protection
* assorted files
* scissors
* hobby knife 
* soldering iron
* drill and assorted bits
* multi-meter
* small clamps 
* coping saw

MATERIALS:
* 1.5 mm stainless steel sheet 
* 6.5 mm bass wood sheet
* 2.5 mm bass wood sheet
*160 x 230 x 23 mm hard cover book (W x L x H outside dimensions)
* heavy cardboard/plastic sheet
* braided elastic band
* glue stick
* gorilla glue
* 2.5mm screws
* 2x 3mm bright white LEDs
* 3x 1K ohm resistors
* 3x 220 ohm resistors
* stranded hookup wire
* proto board 
* SPST or DPDT micro switch (SPST for on/off) (SP Three Throw for low, off, high) RSOnline.co.uk Part 718-2317  or similar
* solder

Some Useful Information for other K3 Hackers:
Dimensions:
* Top power port 6mm wide x 8mm deep
* Bottom power port 5mm x 8mm
* Clips ~ .5mm thick
*~114 mm between ports

Electrical:
* Top port - +4V
* Bottom port - ground
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
astroboy9072 years ago
Just got myself a kindle 3 (free with a $36 donor screen). Looking to get me some lights for it :)

Basically, I want my design to be as minimalistic as possible, or if nto, easily removable.

What I was thinking, is getting some 0603 or similar SMD led lights, and placing them at the 4 corners of the screen. Not sure this would get my optimum lighting (I would definitely play around with it), but that, coupled with thin wire or pcb, could pull off an elegant, thin solution. Any thoughts? Great guide btw :)
txoof (author)  astroboy9072 years ago
I think that the lights aren't going to have enough throw from the corners. A piece of light guide would probably be helpful, but I don't think there's enough space to cram that in.
One option might be to drill holes in the corners and pop out some LEDs to get a bit more throw. You could also stick some along the left and right sides for that matter.
It's super easy to tap into the +4V though, you could simply solder right to the output clips.

Where did you pick up your donor screen? I just toasted my screen the other night and I'm pretty bummed to be without my kindle. Do you have a supplier you like and trust?
What kind of light guide (and where would I find it? I have some cash on MAKE:, if they have it there)



Im fine with it being an overlay as opposed to built in, I just prefer light and unobtrusive (which is why I wanted to go with surface mount LEDs). But as I have yet to get a case for said kindle maybe it wouldnt be bad if it took up some space..



As for my donor screen, I picked up a broken kindle off of ebay. Basically, I got a kindle with a broken screen for free, and stated looking for a replacement. Within a week of looking on ebay, I found one that the screen looked to be intact, and went from there. Turns out the screen was still good, albeit except for a 10px dead pixel area (for $36 bucks I can live with that). If you are going to look for one on ebay, just look for a kindle that will not charge or wont turn on. Its pretty hard as most of them there have broken screens, but I found a couple in a week. Avoid screens with fractures or "lines" going across them though (I posted onto a kindle forum and the general consensus is that the lines are a faulty screen, not faulty hardware/software). You can buy replacement screens for around $75, but for me anything over $60 and I wouldve just bought a new kindle. 



As it so happens, my $36 kindle had around $150 of books on it :) Like the Hunger games and space odyssey books...



Good luck with the fix! :)
I'm sorry if this is a dumb question (I'm teaching myself everything by reading A LOT of stuff online), but if you wanted to use batteries as a power source, what kind would you suggest? Several AA, AAA, etc.
And just to clarify something I read online, you don't need resistors when you use batteries as the power source, right? Again, I'm sorry if this is a dumb question. I am indeed a n00b at this. (Pay no attention to my username haha).
txoof (author)  n00b.cruncher252 years ago
If you intend to power this off of an *external* power source, I would suggest something in the range of 5V. AA batteries are a good choice. Four AA batteries in series (one after the other) will give you around +5V to start out with.
You do not need to use resistors, but depending on your voltage source, you will potentially shorten the life of the LEDs. The spec on most 3mm white LEDs has a max forward voltage of around 4V.
The resistors in my design are there to protect the LEDs and drop the voltage and decrease the brightness.
Hope that helps. Let me know if you need more information.
Incredible write up. I just got a standalone light that works off of the kindle. If I make a cover, this will be a great addtion. Thanks again and it's very detailed!
txoof (author)  RningOnFumes2 years ago
Glad you liked it. Thanks for the comment. I'd love to see your finished product.
qwerty1563 years ago
Sorry if i am being dumb but where is the power supply form the kindle?
I cant seem to find it?
txoof (author)  qwerty1563 years ago
The Kindle 3 has two tiny slots on the left side. Those two slots can be used to attach the reader to a cover like this one.  Inside of those tiny slots are electrical contacts that supply ~4V.  If you want to get an idea what you're shooting for, check out this (slightly obnoxious) video for a closer look at the guts.  I tore mine appart to measure the voltage and get a better idea of what the clips needed to touch.
If you follow the patterns I supplied, you should be able to grind out a clip that works fairly well.  I used stainless, but you could probably use brass stock as it is MUCH easier to work with.  I just couldn't lay my hands on any here in Norway.
Let me know if you have any other questions.
qwerty156 txoof3 years ago
Oh wow thanks!
It works!
The 220 Ohm resistor would work for full brightness right?
thanks!
txoof (author)  qwerty1563 years ago
The brightness depends on the resistor. Greater resistance will give you a dimmer light. The minimum resistance depends on your particular LED. Check the data sheet. In general, around 200 OHMs is the minimum for a 3mm LED.
qwerty156 txoof3 years ago
Yeah thanks!
I am using 5 3mm White leds in parallel.
Do you have anytips to make some sort of a diffuser?
Hot glue doesnt work that well!
I'm a bit late to the party, but for future readers, ping-pong balls, pieces of styrofoam, and packing peanuts are excellent for diffusing. Just grind the front of the LED down smooth and flat to provide a wider viewing angle, then glue a ball of styrofoam down so that it covers the LED entirely.
txoof (author)  qwerty1563 years ago
If you can dig up a busted LCD screen, there are some great diffuser layers between the CCFL and the liquid crystal.
txoof (author)  qwerty1563 years ago
And, be sure to post some pictures of your finished product. I'd love to see what you finally end up with.
Pro

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?

close

PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!