Maker’s Notebook light mod

Maker’s Notebook light mod


During filming of the latest set of episodes, I gave Maker’s Notebooks to some of the wonderful crew members on the set of the Make: television show. We got to talking about modding them, and someone said, “I wish the thing had a reading light”. My idea is to use the embedded bookmark ribbon as a reading light platform. I’ve never worked with conductive thread or surface mount LEDs before, so any tips/warnings before I go down that road would be welcome!


This is an LED, battery, and thread from the new Lilypad e-sewing kit I just got. That thing puts out a pretty bright light!

12 thoughts on “Maker’s Notebook light mod

  1. cde says:

    I think the switch should be a single throw mini dip switch nested at the top of spine, along with the battery, not on the ribbon itself. It should be recessed so throwing the book against the wall won’t flick it on.

    Looking on google, I found a tyco product sheet
    The ADE series switch on page A7 would work. The smallest is 2 poles, so two switches, but even that can be cut down, but is already just .278 inches long. The ADE02SA is my recommendation, allowing ample size for the contact leads but not out enough to be twisted around.

    Another neat thing I noticed on the product sheet is Dip Switches with BUILTIN Resistors. Hell, you can even ditch the resistor for the LED and get the combo one. They have 3.3k and 10k resistor models standard.

    Then again, that might not work, but the first switch would.

  2. John Park says:

    Thanks, that’s a good idea. I suppose I don’t want to have to hold a momentary switch down the entire time, huh? The switches with resistors are very nifty looking. The LED boards I got with the Lilypad kit have a resistor on there, but if you wanted to scavenge a surface mount LED that switch would be perfect.
    I also promise not to throw my book against the wall.

  3. cde says:

    Doesn’t have to be the wall. If you put the book in your bag the wrong way, its own weight could flick the switch, or when it gets pushed up against something. Recessing the switch would also help prevent accidently switching it off with your hand when reading.

  4. rmadams says:

    I did something similar, using some copper bus-wire instead of the ribbon. That way I can bend it too point the light wherever I want. It actually also makes a nice worklight, too, since the notebook makes a solid stand…

    I promised Gareth that I would send him a picture, but I have been too darn busy lately!

  5. John Park says:

    That’s a good point rmadams, I’m dying to try out conductive thread, but having a stiff enough wire in there to pose the ribbon would be excellent…

    CDE, you’re right — and recessed is so much cooler!

  6. Gareth Branwyn says:

    Yeah, Mark. Send me that photo! We’re ALL busy, buster! :-)

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John Edgar Park likes to make things and tell people about it. He builds project for Adafruit Industries. You can find him at and twitter/IG @johnedgarpark

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