Wiimote Whiteboard IR Pen




About: I have a wide range of interests, from woodworking to digital doohickeys and spaceships. At some point I'll get around to documenting them all...

How to build a IR pen for use with a wiimote whiteboard-style project, or anything else you need an IR pen for.

Step 1: Assemble the Materials

For this project you will need:
1 IR LED - i got mine at radioshack, apparently Mouser has good ones also. Make sure its forward bias is <= to 1.5 V, or you wont be able to drive it with a normal AA battery.
1 momentary switch, the smaller the better
1 Sharpie marker/highlighter
1 AA or AAA battery
and some wire, both regular battery-pack-connector style wire and optionally some thicker gauge wire for making the springs on the end of the battery compartment.

Step 2: Prepare the Highlighter

We need to do two things: remove the internal guts of the highlighter and create a hole for the momentary switch. The easiest way to remove the internals of the pen is to use a pair of pliers (I used my leatherman) to pull the bottom end cap off of the pen. The internal highlighter part can then be removed.

To make a hole for the switch I used a cheap soldering iron to melt a circle into the side of the pen slightly smaller then the switch. Then, before the plastic had cooled, I pushed the switch into the hole ensuring the switch fit snuggle and eliminating the need to glue or otherwise attach the switch later.

Step 3: Layout the Parts/ Prepare the Springs

This part is useful to make sure you get the polarity the right way round on the battery. If its backwards, the LED wont light at all. The idea is to have one end of the battery attach to the switch, and the other end to a wire that will run the length of the pen (on the inside) and attach to the bottom stopper.

To make sure the battery has a good contact, were going to build some springs out of the heavier gauge wire, similar to the ones found on 'real' battery holders. The easiest way to do this is to use a pair of pliers to wrap the stripped heavy gauge wire into a series of coils, then pull the ends so that the coil expands into a spring.

Step 4: Final Assembly

Now comes the tricky bit:
Solder the LED onto the wire going to the battery, and slide it into the pen so that the battery lead is coming out of the bottom and the wire going to the switch is sticking out of the switch hole you made in the pen. Attach this lead and the spring to your switch, soldering all of the connections to ensure a good contact. Then squeeze the spring into the pen and wriggle the switch into its hole. This part is fiddly - you dont want to kink the wires or damage the switch, and because the LED and spring are both stiff wires its easy to get stuff stuck. The trick is not to panic and not to force it - you have plenty of time to get it right. I found that reaching a thin screwdriver up from the bottom of the pen let me move wires around until I got the switch placed right. A small hook to pull the spring down the pen would be good too.

Once the switch is in place its time to deal with the other end of the pen. Make another spring from the heavy gauge wire, and solder it onto the wire coming from the LED. At this point you can glue or otherwise attach the spring to the end cap of the pen, drop a battery in, insert the end cap and test your creation. If you were able to use one thin wire from the LED to the end of the pen a AA battery should fit perfectly into this slot. If, like me, you had to combine to smaller wires to get the desired length its possible the joint between the wires will stop a AA from fitting into the pen. If this is the case, you can use a AAA battery, just make sure you attach the battery to the side of the pen with a little bit of bluetack to stop it rattling out of place.



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    40 Discussions


    2 years ago

    It should work with the Crayola Light Designer as well, since it too uses an infrared light pen. Has anyone confirmed this?


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I would have built one, but decided to get an infrared pen at http://www.penciil.com/ instead.
    Still, maybe in the future I'll build one myself and compare it to the one I've bought.


    8 years ago on Step 4

    im having issues with the wiimote picking up ir IR signal...any suggestions?


    9 years ago on Step 4

    which ir led did you use? a tsal6400? i can't find a tsal6400 what shud i do?

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    almost any ir led should worok. i made one of these with one from the source, but i haven't tried it yet


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     You should get the Vishay TSAL 6400 as it would save you a lot of trouble from experimenting the different types of LED. Other types of LED may have other wavelengths, radiation angles and power.

    You can purchase the IR LED from a nearby electronics store or buy it online from sellers such as

    Boon Jin


    9 years ago on Introduction

    just made this today. took me  ~3 hrs, not bad remembering that i had to learn how to solder while doing this. looks very nice. thanks for the 'able.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    An IR pen is a pen that produces infrared light, in this case using a infrared LED. It can be used as a pointer in projects that use webcams (or wiimotes) since digital cameras are generally sensitive to IR light.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice! I am trying to make something very similar. I started out with the same idea but it quickly turned into something looks more like a light saber! I am going to scrap what I have done and start over with something more like this. Nice instructable!


    made it today. i didnt use your instructable but i made basically same thing. and the cap still goes on =D


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I tried making my own using these instructions but I can't get my ir led light to shine like a regular light. Am I doing something wrong or do I have the wrong part? I have all the parts you suggested but my ir led light is blue.

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Infrared is invisible to the human eye. You have to use a camera to see it. Also remember that LED's will only work when the voltage is passed in a certian direction.