Thinkpad style keyboard light


[Sprite_tm] keeps coming up with nice work. This time he sent in his thinkpad style keyboard LED lighting solution for his toughbook. I know, you’re thinking… ‘it’s a LED…’ He used an ATtiny13 to monitor the caps lock LED. If it’s operated two times in succession, the LED is turned on and off. Nice, clean and effective.

[By the way, Part 2 of my diy projector how-to is up on engadget. Look for part 3 later Tuesday.]

14 thoughts on “Thinkpad style keyboard light

  1. That is clever and all, but a much simpler method (and one I would personally consider more elegant) is to use a photocell mounted somewhere on the machine (probably on the top of the lid, as not to be effected by the LCD itself) to trigger the LED at a predetermined level of darkness.

  2. @TJ

    What do you do when it’s dark out and you don’t want it on? i.e watching a movie, leaving the lid open on a desk, etc.

  3. mmm very nice hack indeed, very convenient, i like the choice of manual control, the auto activated ones irritate me, i might just do this to my acer, using pixace08M as the microcontroller

  4. Tossy, the point of the hack is the clever method he used to switch it on and off, not the simple addition of an ‘always on’ illumination source, which would be irritating for films etc. as you mention.

    This is great hack. I may borrow these idea…. I’m thinking along the lines of painting beneath the keys a nice reflective light then using three or four 3mm blue LED’s to get a nice glow from beneath the keys.

    Thanks for the idea

  5. i have a thinkpad with the light already on it and guess how many times i’ve used it. NONE!! its pointless if you have a backlighted LCD screen because the light from there is 100x brighter than the little light up top. Nice little hack, but entirely useless.

  6. Why not have it directly connected to the caps lock LED? I mean, if someone is noobish enough to need to know exactly where a key is in the dark, they are probably noobish enough to leave the caps lock on.

  7. @shadymilkman

    Going to have to completely disagree with you there. The keyboard light is a very useful feature to have on the ibm laptops especially when in the dark. The lcd hardly illuminates the keyboard unless you have it pointed down towards the keyboard.

    Nice hack and well executed. Making it turn on that way is even more effective than the fn+pg_up configuration it is on my ibm a20. Good work!

  8. @shadymilkman

    I also have to disagree. I use the led alot when in the dark. The screen never provides enough light when you need to use random keys.

    Nice hack. Something alot of people could find usefull.

  9. @crash

    I challenge you to know where every key is on a laptop keyboard. Considering I own about 3 laptops and they all have a different keyboard layout it is nice to have a lit one to find say the page up key. And it is not just being able to find your keys it is being able to see what you are doing.

  10. Ran across this by google search and I often work (really mostly play) late into the night.

    Being able to see the keys late into the night is important, I normally spend good amount of time into the night and when it gets to late I have to look down sometimes, If I cant see they keys then I have to stop what im doing and figure it out.

    Its useful, like a Real panic button!

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