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.
Enough talk, let's LED this darkness!
Step 1: Tools + Materials
Most of the materials were found at the dollar store, remainder are easily acquirable:
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.
remove the headphone wire at the base of the ear bud.
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
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.
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
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.
Whatever your darkness phobia, these otology illumination devices are sure to cast a favourable light on your situation.