Introduction: Guitar Hero LED Mod

About: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at You'll like it.
Guitar Hero rocks, but it really needs some lights to liven up the virtual shredding.

What to do? Cram in some LEDs!

Step 1: Open It Up

Getting the two pieces off the back of the guitar is just a matter of taking off the 16 screws. There's one piece for the neck and one for the body. Try not to lose the screws, but we found that you can keep it pretty secure with only four of them.

Step 2: Remove the Fret Buttons

Undo the two little screws that hold the small board that has the real buttons on it. You should now be able to easily remove the five colored fret buttons.

Step 3: Make New Fret Buttons

We needed some translucent and tinted buttons that were the same size and shape as the original buttons. I was going to build the buttons with layers of frosted acrylic, but Matt insisted on a more professional technique of making a mold from the originals and casting completely new pieces.

To see how that was done, hop on over toMatt's Instructable on how he made the new pieceshere.

Step 4: Drill Out Holes for the LEDs to Go Into

Now we need to put some holes in the new buttons that the LEDs can go into.

Check the height of the LED and you'll know how deep you need to drill. To make sure we didn't go too far we applied some tape to the drill bit. Just drill till you hit the tape and you're golden.

Step 5: Insert the LEDs

Insert the LEDs of your choice. We used 5mm white LEDs.

A dab of glue and the LEDs stay put.

Step 6: Bend the LED Legs

The legs became the contact points and as such we needed to bend them into a very rough circular shape that would then be making contact for the circuit. We measured the gap between the LED and the circuit board and bent accordingly.

Step 7: Apply Copper Contact Pads

On the circuit board we put on some copper tape that would become the contact pads for the LEDs. We put down two here, but in the end only used one for each LED for reasons that will become clearer soon.

The original design, that you see here, has the copper flat on the board, but after some testing we pulled the copper tape up on one side and folded that end under so as to make a very rough spring.

Step 8: Wire It Up - Part 1

All of these LEDs are to be run in parallel. These are run off of a simple coin battery of the type that come in the keychain LED flashlights, but for a more serious application we'd use a 9-volt and some resistors.

Here you can see the original plan for the wiring. Each set of five copper pads is wired together and the wires on the right in the photo go to the battery.

Originally, the LEDs were set up so that both legs would have to make contact to light up, but this was giving us erratic results. So instead one leg, and it doesn't matter which, gets soldered to the wires for a constant connection. This drops our possible points of failure and gives us more of a likelihood of seeing pretty lights.

Step 9: Wire It Up - Part 2

After testing out the original wiring plan we ran into the problem of there being too many points of failure. We were requiring that both legs of the LEDs be pushed onto the copper pads for the connection to be made. To fix this, one leg was instead wired to the pad below it. One of these is highlighted in the first photo, but the same thing was done to all of the LEDs.

In addition, the copper tape that the LED was still being pushed onto was too flat on the surface of the board. To create a very rough springiness we peeled up one side of the tape and crumpled it a bit or folded it under itself to make it a little thicker. It's crude and not a long-term solution, but it worked for the first run.

Step 10: Pack It All Back in and Play!

Put all the pieces back in their places, screw in the neck piece, and play. You'll want to hold off on putting the back of the body back on since odds are good that you'll be tweaking this setup a couple dozen times before you're happy with it.

When it all comes together, fire up some Guitar Hero 1, 2, or 3 (screw that 80s edition) and play!

Thanks toMatt for all the work and photos and Adam for the Guitar Hero playing.

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