Introduction: Book Light Rescue

About: Librarian, tinkerer.

After my second book light quit on me, I set about trying to find a way to rebuild it with easily accessible parts. I could've bought a new one, but I don't like to trash stuff, especially electronics, unnecessarily. This instructable includes the tools and supplies I used to repair this one, but you probably have screws and other stuff in your garage or basement that might serve just as well as those listed, so use that stuff first. When you're done, you'll have transformed your once-ler book light into something your familiar with that can be further repaired with available parts in the future.

Step 1: Gather Your Tools & Materials


Use what you've got laying around, but this is the stuff that works with the orange old work box and plates if you need approximate sizes. Besides the binder clip, which I forgot to get in the picture, I got everything at Lowes for around $7. If you just need the box, and can find some screws, you can do it for around $2.

1-Gang Orange Plastic Interior Old Work Standard Rectangular Wall Electrical Box $1.39

Blank Handy Box Cover $0.64 (need 2)

Screws and Bolts

Switch Plate Screws 6-32 x 1/4" $0.61 (these are short - 1/4", if you get longer ones, you may have to cut them down to fit)

Pan Phillips Machine Screws M4-.70 x 16mm

Nylon Lock Nuts M4-.70

Some Washers

9" of Coat Hanger, or other suitable semi-rigid, semi-pliable wire.

Donor Book Light Guts

Not Pictured:

Binder Clip, or any other clip that will hold your light to a book. We're using mostly plastic, so the whole thing is pretty light.




You could do this with simple tools, but here's what I took out of the toolbox to do this.





Needle nose pliers

Soldering Iron

Wire cutters


Step 2: Disassemble & Troubleshoot Your Light

I like tearing down electronics and machines, of course, but I tried to fix this light before I ripped it apart. It would blink or turn off if the top of the light was moved or breathed on, so I figured it was something wrong with the wires in the neck, or the connection of those wires to the light or to the stuff in the body of the light. The light was not designed to be repaired, so even minor digging and troubleshooting meant splitting apart plastic housings that would never go back together.

I took everything out of the light, soldered some new wires in place, and it was back in business, although very naked. Like most book lights, this one is just a couple components - the lamp, the switch, the power, the clip, and the neck - so there's not a lot that can go wrong. This book light had a rechargeable battery, so it also included a board to charge the battery, which everything else linked up to.

BE CAREFUL with Lithium batteries; they can be dangerous. Some of the battery wires were damaged when I disassembled this light, so I replaced them. If your battery or its connections are compromised, you could always buy a new battery with the connector you need. Checking the voltage of your battery is a good step when troubleshooting your book light, too. When everything was assembled to test, I charged the battery and checked the voltage, and it was close to the 3.7 volts I expected.

Step 3: Mount Your Clip to the Top Plate

Make a small hole in your clip (if necessary) and one of your plates large enough for your M4 or other screw. The hole should be about 1/4 of the way down from one side of the plate. Use washers as needed for your clip, and inside your plate. Secure the clip to the plate with a nylon lock nut. FYI, getting a screw inside a binder clip is tricky but I know you can do it. Pliers come in handy for holding the screw from spinning when you start tightening it down. If you use a binder clip, it doesn't have to be super tight. If you're using a binder clip, you can also remove the inside arm before attaching it to the plate.

Step 4: Cut the Tabs Off the Old Work Box and Remove the Screws and Swing Brackets

The screws come out with a screwdriver and then the swinging brackets can be removed. Set the swinging brackets aside for later. I removed the stationary tabs with a hacksaw and then cleaned it up with a file.

Step 5: Mount the Neck to the Body

The hole for the swing bracket screw makes for a good anchoring point to attach the neck of our new book light. In regular use, positioning your book light when reading usually involves grabbing the lamp and pushing it into place, which puts a lot of strain on the connection between the base and the neck, so a strong connection is important. To keep the neck in place, and let the screw head sink in a little, you can widen the swing bracket screw hole using an appropriately sized drill bit or even just a phillips bit - it's only plastic. Widen the hole on the side opposite the flange, and cut or drill a lit groove to allow the coat hanger neck to escape.

Bend small loops into each end of your coat hanger that are about the diameter of your screw or needle nose pliers tips. Use an M4 screw to attach the wire to the box running the screw through the top side of the nylon locking nut. This will recess your nut a little, and help the plates to stay flush when they're attached to your box. The plates and box have a little room in between when they're connected, so if the screw head or nut or screw threads are a little proud, it'll be okay. Test fit the plates if you're in doubt. You can make your hole deeper, or cut the end of your screw if they're sticking out too much. Tighten the screw down tight before moving on.

If you're using the M4 screw for this step, it will be a little tight in the swing bracket screw hole. The hole is plastic, so if you drive the screw through it before you fit all the other parts, it will make some room for itself.

Step 6: Mount the Lamp Mount to the Neck

Grab one of the swing brackets you took off the box earlier, and run the M4 screw through the screw hole to make some room as described previously. Run the screw through the other end of the coat hanger, add washers as necessary, and tighten a nylon locking nut onto the screw to hold everything in place.

Step 7: Make Room for Accesseries

For this book light, I had to make a hole for the switch wire and the micro USB port, which charges the battery. I used the drill to make small holes. There is room to run small wires from under the top and bottom plates if you prefer.

Step 8: Attach the Back Plate & Wire It Up

Attach the plate that does not have the binder clip on it to the bottom of the box, opposite the box's flange, with the short switch plate screws.

Here, I only had to disconnect and re-solder the wire to the switch. The lamp and the wires to the lamp were run between the bottom of the box and the back plate. I wrapped the lamp wires around the neck to keep them somewhat tidy, but you can do whatever you want with them.

I used hot glue and a highly technical scrap of wood to keep the charging / control board and battery in place.

Step 9: Attach Lamp, Switch, & Top Plate

The lamp and switch were both surface mounted and attached with hot glue. The top plate is attached with the longer screws that came with the plate to give it a little more strength.

Step 10: You're Done!

That's it! Like I said, you might have to make some mods to fit whatever light you're trying to fix, and you can probably find some more efficient and cooler ways to do things, too. The finished product has kind of a Mad Max vibe, so you can probably make it look better. I've never used heat shrink tubing, but that might clean up the lamp wires well. Tape could do it, too, but it might get gross and sticky if it moves around. You could paint the box, but the orange / gray combo reminds me of flight gear from The Empire Strikes Back, so I kept it that way for now.

If it breaks again, you can fix it, right? I've had this one going in this configuration for a month or two. My daughter and I share it, because she forgets to charge hers. She's the one that broke it in the first place, so it sees some good wear and tear.

Happy reading!

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