LED Ear-lights




Introduction: LED Ear-lights

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Things haven't been the same since the summer solstice, I've noticed the daylight declining as we approach Fall here in the Pacific North. Sneaky, Mother Nature, tease me with sunshine and warmth only to rob me when I become complacent. I suppose there's rain on the way too, hmmm? Typical.
While it lasted, sunny summer evenings allowed for longer adventures, eating a late meal at sunset and walk home in the warm evening air. Yet, night always comes. When darkness falls it would be nice to have a small, personal over ear LED light to guide your way back to your tent, or light your favourite book when in bed.

In this project, I'll show how to make a small, light-weight, personal LED light worn as an earpiece, and made from dollar-store components. These LED lobe lights will blow away the commercial variety, and cost around $6.00(CAD) for the components.
These ear lights are and alternative to camping headlamps, which can be too overpowering for reading. And an alternative to portable reading lamps, which are usually too dim to be of much use outside of reading.

On a recent trip, I stumbled upon ear mounted LED's which were the inspiration for this instructable. The models had just one earpiece, one LED, and sold for the whopping price of $21.00(CAD)...just for one!
Some research uncovers that prices range from $12-$20 each*.
Sold in units of one, all designs I've seen have just one LED, primarily designed for reading use.
*link, and link

These lights were constructed in under an hour, using dollar-store goodies, a soldering iron and a hot-glue gun.
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Enough talk, let's LED this darkness!

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Step 1: Tools + Materials

Tools are common enough to be found/borrowed easily.
Most of the materials were found at the dollar store, remainder are easily acquirable:

  • soldering iron
  • hot-glue gun
  • needle-nose pliers
  • Philips-head screwdriver
  • safety goggles
  • 2x book lights($dollar store)
  • over-ear headphones ($dollar store)
  • multi-LED flashlight ($dollar store)
  • 50/50 tin/lead solder
  • flux

Step 2: Strip Components

For this project, we need a few components from our dollar store goodies.
After removing the parts you need, save the remainder for future projects.

ear phones:
remove the headphone wire at the base of the ear bud.

multi-LED flashlight:
completely disassemble.
remove LED housing and unsolder the LED's.

2x book lamps:
cut the wires near the body.
remove the LED.

Step 3: Plan the Layout

This design uses most of the book lamps' existing wiring and casing. As such, these LED's are wired in parallel.
The LED's from the flashlight were a 'bright white', where the ones that came with the book lamps are 'blue-white'. I placed the blueish LED's in the center of the array with two of the 'bright white' LED's from the multi-LED light on either side.

This array has 3 LED's for each ear, mounted over the edge of the book lamp body. Anode on the top side of the book lamp casing and the cathode underneath. A small dab of hot glue on the LED base, between the legs, stuck the LED's in place for soldering later.
Don't overdo it with glue, and leave the leads exposed. The LED assembly will be glued in place after soldering.

Step 4: Solder and Glue

After the LED's are positioned the anode leads were grouped together and soldered, ditto for the cathodes on the underside. Per the original book-lamp design, I kept the cathode wired to the switch then the the battery.
A reminder, these LED's are wired in parallel.

Check the soldering by testing the switch. If all lights function, encase in hot glue.
The glob of glue serves two purposes, to protect the wiring and to hold the LED's in place.
Gob away, leave the LED's exposed.

Step 5: Position Earpiece

Next, the earpiece is attached by gluing the outside surface of the earpiece to the underside of the light housing.

The angle of the lights is user defined, as face shape and use will define the azimuth:
  • The LED assembly can be positioned pointing inwards, to give a well lit area of interest close to the face. Suitable for reading and other close-quarters work.
  • Alternatively, the LED assembly can be positioned outwards to illuminate a wider field of view. Suitable for path walking and lighting up a room.
Regardless of the final LED position, your light will work well enough to provide adequate illumination values in most situations. And, is cheap enough to make a second set for specific uses if desired.

Step 6: Complete Other Ear (if Desired)

If you plan to make a light for each ear complete the same steps, being mindful that the LED location is slightly different for each ear.

With both sets done, it's time to hit the lights and see how they work.
Whoa, that's bright!

Step 7: Field Test

Time to test these lobe lights to the limits!
I have empirically approved these lights for the following uses:
  • Chilling near an unlit section of highway. Clear vision was given to see the adjoining pathway, and alerted drivers to my location.
  • Tucked in bed, nerding it up with some sci-fi.
  • Standing ominously in a garage.
  • Sitting in a dark field waiting for orders from the mother-ship.
These light-weight lights would also be ideal for evening hiking, unexpected blackouts, searching under your bed for those elusive rogue-Cheerios or venturing into the scary attic where you heard some chains rattling that one evening and are now unable to sleep without charms by your door.
Whatever your darkness phobia, these otology illumination devices are sure to cast a favourable light on your situation.
have fun!

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    14 Discussions

    Zen Innovations
    Zen Innovations

    6 years ago

    just lovely and practical. it had a fashion statement too.


    Most excellent! A great project. However, I think they could keep the wires for listening to music unless they are as you said poor listening devices or perhaps broken earphones. I hope you don.t mind if I copy and improve the design. If I do, I will do an instructable as you have here. Thanks for the ideas and posting this wonderful gadget idea.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Great idea!! Also re: keep headphones attached and working, this would be great for the Kindle and other eReaders that read to you


    8 years ago on Introduction

    these are sweet i love the idea and i am so jealous i didn't think of this! great job


    8 years ago on Step 6

    Could you leave the headphone wires attached. And actually use the headphones as they are?


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 6

    I chose to remove the wires as the headphones were cheap and had terrible audio and I just wanted the lights, but you can totally leave them as operation headphones and listen to your music


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 6

    Alright I'm definitely going to make this. Thanks for the instructions


    9 years ago on Introduction

    If you leave the wires and plug attached to the headphones you can listen to music while reading, walking, or whatever.

    The Rusted Workman
    The Rusted Workman

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    or use them as a head set for a walkie talkie and have a mini mike on the other and have the LED's as IR LED's and attach a mini digital camera to your head after removing the IR lens and you have a fully functioning tactical night vision headset :P


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I like your idea, but I think it's just to many parts and busy work. I still think that the best kind of hands free light is one you can hand to anyone and they can just use without too much of the yuck factor you will get from things too close to your ear.

    IMO the baseball cap light is the best choise, it's adjustable, can carry more lights and batteries and ou can hand it to anyone with the worry about it falling off and it's easy to ware for a long time and it will keep your head warm in the wenter.

    Please don't take it the wrong way I like your work it's great..


    9 years ago on Introduction

    wow you can get all this stuff at most dollar stores


    9 years ago on Introduction

    It's a great idea and seeing as I have those bits laying around I think I might make one or two.
    You could use infrared LEDs and hide from cameras. Or rather be blocked from the camera.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Hey this is very nice!
    Great freehand light for multiple occasions, maybe I will add power with the earphone cable so durability will be extended.