Introduction: Turn an Old Mouse Into a USB-powered LED Desk Light

Picture of Turn an Old Mouse Into a USB-powered LED Desk Light

Have an old mouse laying around? Of course you do. Need more LEDs in your life? OF COURSE YOU DO. Let's turn that old mouse into a USB power source for some LED lights. We'll use some Sugru and magnets to make the LEDs capable of sticking to your tower or anything else metal - if you have a keyboard tray, these can make some great keyboard lights. Let's get started!

Here's what you'll need:

  • a USB mouse
  • a screwdriver
  • electrical tape
  • two 2-pin connector cables
  • a pack or two of Sugru
  • two magnets
  • two LEDs in the color of your choice

Step 1: Take That Mouse Apart!

Picture of Take That Mouse Apart!

This will vary depending on the model of your mouse, but start by looking at the bottom of the mouse. There's usually a screw somewhere in the center. Take it out, yo. With the screw out, you should be able to pop the top of the mouse off.

Step 2: Remove the USB Cable From the Mouse.

Picture of Remove the USB Cable From the Mouse.

Once you open up the mouse, look for where the USB cable plugs into the board inside the mouse. Yank it out - don't worry about being too careful - we're going to cut off the connector anyway. In fact, you could just cut the wires out of the connector and call it good. Yeah, do that. Then pull the cord out of the mouse.

You're now going to look at the end of the cord - it should have five wires sticking out. Find the black and the red ones. These are your power: the black is negative and the red is positive. You can trim back the other three and wrap them in electrical tape so you don't short anything out, leaving the black and the red sticking out.

Step 3: Connect the 2-pin Connectors to the USB Cable

Picture of Connect the 2-pin Connectors to the USB Cable

So, you COULD just wire up the LEDs directly to the USB - but what happens when they burn out? You'd have to make a whole new set of lights, is what would happen. You would lose hours of your life, and that would make you sad.

So, to solve that problem, Jesse had the awesome idea of using 2-pin connectors as "sockets" for the LEDs. That way, you can just pull out the LED when it burns out and plug in another one, no muss no fuss. These 2-pin connectors were things we had lying around. You can find them in battery packs, old floppy drives, and inside lots of other stuff. So go find a couple.

Once you have them ready, we're going to connect it to the USB cable (We wanted two lights, so we used two, but you can just use one if you want). Twist together the ends of the connectors in parallel, so that the positive ends are twisted together, and the negative ends are twisted together. See the picture, because NO MAKE WORDS GOOD.

Now connect the 2-pin connectors with the positive and negative wires coming out of the USB cable by twisting each of them together - make sure you wrap them up with electrical tape so the positive and negative don't touch. DON'T CROSS THE STREAMS!

Step 4: Add Sugru, Make Pretty, All Done.

Picture of Add Sugru, Make Pretty, All Done.

Almost done! We don't like looking at a lot of electrical tape all the time, so we took some Sugru and covered up the area where the USB cable meets the 2-pin connector wires.

Then, if you want to get super fancy, grab two small magnets - we took ours out of a pair of headphones. Get some more Sugru and set it around the 2-pin connector, being sure to not cover up the holes where you stick in the LED. Stick a magnet in the Sugru. Now you can stick your lights onto anything metal! (Well, once you let the Sugru dry for 24 hours. THEN you can stick it anywhere you want.)

You did it! Stick the LEDs into the 2-pin connectors! Plug the USB into the nearest computer! WATCH LIGHT COME OUT! SELF HIGH-FIVE!


sl0j0n (author)2015-01-29

HEY, hey, hey! GREAT instructable.

I just got a new Ms Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, which is black, & pretty hard to see, in the semi-darkness that I prefer. So, this is just what I needed. One question tho; I've got a couple of old Ms mouses, w/ red LEDs/lights/whatever. Any advice on using those, since red, particularly the 660nm wavelength, is supposed to be 'beneficial,' so I'd like to use those for my keyboard tray lights.


PompeyFan007 (author)2014-11-02

Liking this instructable - Great job! Especially like the 'socket' idea.

Question: Knowing that fitting an appropriate resistor into the solution would make the LED's last longer, where would it get connected?

idealab (author)PompeyFan0072014-11-06

Here is a diagram I made to show how you would add the resistors.

AuralVirus (author)PompeyFan0072014-11-04

swaxman (author)2014-11-02

Inspirational Instructable LED 2 connector pure genius. Wow

idealab (author)swaxman2014-11-06

Thank you : )

aglass0fmilk (author)2014-10-30

The LEDs should have limiting resistors or they might burn out rather quickly!

AuralVirus (author)aglass0fmilk2014-11-04

bo'leary3 (author)aglass0fmilk2014-11-02

What kind of resistors are they (value, maker, purchase at?)

abuhafss (author)bo'leary32014-11-03

Since the supply is 5V, any thing from 120 - 220 Ohms (1/4W) should do the job.

aglass0fmilk (author)bo'leary32014-11-02

If you had the datasheet for the LEDs, it would tell you the forward voltage and current and you could use these to calculate the best resistor value for it. But a safe bet is usually 1000 Ohms (1kOhm), which can be a little dark. I would just say to try it and see what works best. I would use at least 190 ohms. 330 ohms is good round figure.

You can get them at Radioshack, but Sparkfun sells a nice resistor starter pack as well as other cool things! Read this tutorial:

AuralVirus (author)2014-11-04

Great idea - whenever a fan dies I always harvest the LED's - now I can light up the I/O plate on my mobo so I can see where I'm plugging the cables into (so difficult to see without a torch)

I wish more case manufacturers supplied cases with rear LED's, some do but no the 3 I own :)

RileyO (author)2014-11-03

cool, i realy like these, thanks for the instructions, and a tip for the non-computer people, don't use any strong magnets!!! it can majorly wreck any electronic device!!!

ReapTheGrim (author)2014-11-02

Small but pleasurable

skewlsux85 (author)2014-10-29

great job, but friendly thing to keep in mind, keep the magnets away from traditional hard drives, it will and can damage them

MrPapaya (author)skewlsux852014-11-02

Fridge magnets are not going to harm a hard drive.
Magnets were dangerous for 3.5-inch floppy disks, but modern hard
drives aren't affected by anything short of a high-end degaussing
device. In fact there are one or more super strong magnets INSIDE of a traditional hard drives.

Istarian (author)MrPapaya2014-11-02

If you stuck a magnet sufficiently close to the hd platters it might have an effect but the same is true of a floppy. Having floppies and magnets in the same room may be unwise, but as long as they are far enough away they wouldn't suffer damage anyway.

Istarian (author)skewlsux852014-11-02

It's very unlikely that any magnet that you can easily get a hold will have much effect.

fefede (author)2014-11-02

You need a resistor or the led will have a short life. Assuming 5 Volt, and a white LED you need to connetc in serie a 100 Ohm or 68 Ohm resistor. My two cents.

subhojyoti1 (author)2014-10-31

luved it

Hpibmx (author)2014-10-31

i like it i've never tried 2-pin connector with an LED straight!!

hotvedt (author)2014-10-30

You must use resistors. One thing is the LEDs burning out, but they also pull a lot of current this way. With correct resistors they will outlast you.

Other than this, i like your project.

nodcah (author)2014-10-30

Great idea! I love the added magnets! :-)

d3ath101 (author)2014-10-29

Such a good use of old crap. Maybe, just maybe I'll earn a high five tonight!

seamster (author)2014-10-29

Great project, very nicely done.

On a side note, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one that gives himself high-fives.

About This Instructable




Bio: We're a makerspace at the Denver Public Library! We specialize in digital media creation (music, video, games) but are pushing out to do more ... More »
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