revealed that she was afraid of the dark and couldn't sleep without the television on.
Being easily distracted, I can't sleep when the television is on. After several disagreements, she proposed that we purchase some kind of a nightlight. I inquired what kind of a nightlight she had in mind, to which she replied that it would be extremely cool if I could find a blue one.
Find? Possibly. Invent? Oh yes. Several days later, I showed up with the prototype Girlfriend Nightlight, and she absolutely loved it. It does an excellent job of permeating a room with just the right amount of atmospheric blue light, draws plenty of interest at parties, and ended all disagreements about sleeping with the television on.
My girlfriend also thereafter swore that I was some kind of genius. The truth is that after selecting all of the electronics and materials, assembling the Girlfriend Nightlight is pretty straightforward. I built the first one in a few nights' worth of spare time... and so can you.
Step 1: A few things before getting started...
1.) I'll assume that you know how to solder, and that you have a basic understanding of electrical circuits as well as a basic understanding of electronic components. You shouldn't need to thoroughly understand the physics going on inside a resistor or a capacitor or be able to recite the mathematical formulae that govern their use, but you should have a concept of what these things are and what they do. If you're starting with electronics for the very first time, this is a great project for you to try to build, but may I suggest you begin by first reading Sparkfun Electronics' excellent “Beginning Embedded Electronics” tutorial at:
2.) You'll want to make sure that you have a clean, well-lit space to spread out and build your nightlight.
3.) You'll need some basic tools - a pair of wire strippers, a pair of pliers, a small philips screwdriver, an electric drill, a simple multimeter, and a good soldering iron. I've built this nightlight using a cheap nine-dollar hobbyist soldering iron as well as a spectacular variable-temperature soldering iron. Trust me, it makes a massive difference.
4.) While this project could very easily be built using one single spool of wire, I'd strongly recommend using two different colors of wire. I used red wire for anything having a positive charge, and black wire for anything connected to ground. It is massively helpful to be able to look at all of the wires in your circuitry and be able to tell at a glance which wires are ground and which wires are not. Getting into this habit now will serve you well when you advance to more elaborate and complex electronics projects.