Updated: 11/30/02 Email the Webmonkey
If you like eye candy...
... then you should check out the Sauce line of colored light gadgets from Color Kinetics. I first learned about this company while I was browsing the LED Museum--a must-see for gadget lovers. After a little searching, I found a discounted Sauce Lightwand at Target for $7.
Since I recently upgraded my PC's case to a Chenming model with a big window, I thought a gadget like the Lightwand might make for a good interior illumination effect. So, I ripped it open and wired it up to my PC's power supply, because I didn't want to keep feeding it AA batteries.
In short, it works pretty well. The effects are very good, though the light isn't as bright as I would like. The Lightwand only has 3 LEDs after all... and they are not as high power as something like this Laser LED unit. But I am now highly motivated to try this mod with a Sauce Lightwasher or one of their other bigger products... Must have more light!
Inside the Lightwand
Once you unscrew the case (which will require a very small Phillips) you can easily remove the two circuit boards. Each is about the size of a quarter. The product's many display modes are controlled by one momentary pushbutton switch.
The power stage takes 1.5V from one AA battery and bumps it up to 3.5V. About 60mA is drawn from the battery. I didn't check the current drawn by the lighting stage... if one was motivated to do so, one could probably snip off the power stage and power the lighting PCB directly. But I was lazy so I didn't check the current draw for the second stage...
Wiring it up to the computer power supply
I used the computer's 5V power supply to power the Lightwand. Knowing the current drawn was 60mA, I calculated that a resistor on the order of 60 ohms should give me the right voltage drop. I found one around 70 ohms and called it close enough.
I scrounged some more wire and extended the power lines, then used electrical tape to cover up the bare metal.
Ran another long pair of wires to the switch on the Lightwand's circuit board--can't be cracking the case every time I want to push the button, right?
Used hot glue to stick the two round PCBs together, back to back
Put some double-sided tape on the thing so I could stick it somewhere inside the case.
(BTW: I know I need black-faced components... one thing at a time.)
And movies of the device in operation...
Things to keep in mind
I'll be scrounging more Color Kinetics gear as soon as I can, stay tuned for updates!