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Saturday, August 4th, 2007

Reading Lamp

Categories: [ DIY ]


Last Christmas, I got a LED-based lamp that you can clip onto a book for reading in dark places, e.g., in bed without lighting the whole room. It's very handy, lightweight and it lights both pages of a book very well. It would be perfect if it didn't require Lithium batteries (CR2032, button-shaped batteries, 20 mm diameter and 3.2 mm thick). These batteries are expensive if bought in small amounts, and they need to be replaced often compared to e.g., AAA batteries (at least in theory).


So I decided to fit AAA batteries onto it. The original lamp's design is very simple: two 3V batteries in series, one white LED, a switch and that's it. No fancy electroncics, no black magick: you can't make it any simpler. So replacing the Lithium batteries with alkalines is very simple in theory: fit a holder for 3 AAA alkaline batteries, add a 33 ohms resitor in series, connect the wires to the contacts, and Bob's your uncle. In practice, it was a bit more difficult, but not much.

3-AAA Battery Holder

The electronics shop I went to didn't have any 3-AAA holders, only 1 piece or 4 pieces holders. So I went for three times one and I glued them together with cyanoacrylate glue, after sanding the surfaces to ensure that they were perfectly flat.

Lampe-boitier_droite Lampe-boitier_dessus Lampe-boitier_gauche

Then, I needed to connect the three batteries in series. This has been done with the legs of the resistor.

Lampe-piles-boitier_contacts_avant Lampe-piles-boitier_contacts_arriere

I added two wires from the remaining connectors and routed them through the ready-made holes in the holders. To one of the wires, I soldered the resistor. It rests in the angle of the battery holder: since the holder is square, and the battery is round, there is some space left along the sides, enough for a wire or even a resistor. I used insulation tape to prevent contact between the soldered resistor and the battery.

Lid Replacement


The original lid for the battery compartment is nicely round and everything, but this makes it impractical to glue anything onto. I therefore decided to make my own replacement for this part, which would be flat (and probably ugly). I got a piece of Plexiglas (PMMA, or acrylic glass) from a friend, and cut a piece of more or less the right shape. The fitting was actually quite difficult, because the battery compartment has several screws and bits that are protruding slightly. It required a lot of sanding before getting a good enough fit. Plexiglas can be bent slightly, but if the back of the support wouldn't be flat, the battery holder could not be glued anymore with cyanoacrylate (which requires perfectly matching surfaces for bonding). Thank $DEITY for powertools!


This is the inside of the battery compartment. It has one screw on the left, two protruding rings holding the original CR2032 batteries, and two more screws on the right. Moreover, it has a slot in the far left where the lid's tail bit goes. The next picture shows this tail bit, on the far left of the support piece.


The tail bit is made of a piece of the same plexiglas sheet as the support. I glued it in the right place with cyanoacrylate, and then I sanded it until it was thin, short and narrow enough to fit into the slot. The two next pictures show more of the sanding that was needed in order for the lid to fit on top of the screws and other bits. The first picture shows the tail bit again on the left, as well as a hole for the screw located next to the slot. The second picture shows the hole through which the fixation screw goes, as well as the places where the two other screws go. On both pictures, you can see the central hole where the wires go through to the contacts in the lamp's original battery compartment.

Lampe-support_languette Lampe-support_trou

The next two pictures show the whole device I built, including the contacts, from two more angles. You can see the resistor wrapped in red insulation tape.

Lampe-boitier+support_avant Lampe-boitier+support_profil_gauche


My first idea was to use two 10 eurocents coins as contacts, since they have almost exactly the same diameter (19.75 mm) as the original batteries (20 mm) while being a bit thinner, which would have allowed to add the wires or some kind of foam adding pressure and maintaining the electrical contact. It was a bad idea: soldering onto the coins is difficult, because the coin acts like a heat sink for the soldering iron and the tin, instead of reaching the right temperature that would allow to make a proper solder. Well, it's not that bad: the device is 0.20 EUR cheaper this way.

Instead, I used aluminium folio, cardboard and double-sided tape to build round contacts that fit into the battery holes, as shown on the three next pictures.

Lampe-contacts Lampe-contacts_dessous Lampe-piles-boitier+support


Finally, here's the device with its batteries, mounted onto the lamp:

Lampe-piles-droite Lampe-piles-dessus Lampe-piles-gauche

It looks quite “hacker-techno-raw” (or whatever you want to call it), but it works. It's of course heavier than the original lamp, but the clamp is strong enough to hold even on a paperback. The only drawback is that the angles are still quite sharp, and the battery pack hurts the skin when it lies on your lap.

Electricity Consumption

The 3 AAA batteries give 4.6 V without a load (i.e., when the lamp is off) and 4.5 when it's on. The voltage across the 33 R resistor is 0.7 V, which gives a 21 mA current and 3.8 V across the LED, which look like the nominal values one can find on the Web. The LED therefore consumes 80 mW and 15 mW are wasted in the resistor and the batteries' internal resistance (that's about 16%).

[ Posted on August 4th, 2007 at 16:00 | no comment | ]

La Saint Pierre

Translation: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Categories: [ Beer ]


Bière au pain d'épices Fortwenger. One ne sent pas du tout le goût de pain d'épices ; légèrement amère, arrière goût de clou de girofle (en se forçant un peu). Contient du malt d'orge et de blé.

Brasserie de Saint-Pierre, Saint-Pierre, Alsace, France. 5,8 % alcool.

[ Posted on August 4th, 2007 at 14:50 | no comment | ]