Thursday, August 2, 2012

How To - Super Bright Mag-Visor for the Eldar-ly!

george burns

by Rich K

Sad but true fact: I’m getting old.  My eyesight has been less than optimal since I entered this world, it’s not getting any better, and lately painting the details has become a headache-inducing-eye-straining-torture.  My wife bought me one of these…

Mag Head

… which works pretty well.  I liked the integrated headlamp but it just wasn’t bright enough.  I want BRIGHT!


Recently, I had to install some LED lighting in some tradeshow pieces at work.  So, we bought a few of these 7” LED light bars in “cool white.”  These babies are surprisingly bright, lightweight, and for their size, only get warm with extended use.  I liked them so much that I bought two without actually having a project to put them in.

Well, I found a great use!

I took off the extra round lens and dinky little light that was native to the magnifier and set those aside.  I completely removed both upper screws from either side of the front mag lenses and found longer screws that fit the same thread pattern.

Next, I made a plastic bracket for the bar out of some 0.060” plasticard.  I did all this process by eyeball and ruler, so no pdf pattern this time, sorry.


As an aside: a great bit of kit for any plasticard craftsman is a sheet metal nibbler.  I used it to cut out a channel in the bracket so the plasticard wouldn’t block the lenses.  I also used it to put the jagged edges on the Wreck Marker from a few weeks ago.  I can’t stress enough how great this thing is for biting out small bits of plasticard.  The only problem is that the plasticard is soft and can foul the mechanism if you don’t clear it regularly.  Even with that small issue, it’s a must have, I think.

There is one drawback to the LED bars and that is the power source.  Batteries aren’t going to cut it if I’m going to be using this thing for hours on end; too much voltage and current are necessary, which keeps batteries from being cost effective.


It needs to be powered via a wall transformer.  I clipped the output jack from Ye Olde Modem transformer (12Volts @ 200mA DC Output) and wired it to the LED bar.  Luckily, back in Ye Olde Days they made wall transformers with a good length of wire; this one is near 8’ long!  When putting the electrical parts together, be mindful of polarity: make sure the black wire of the LED bar gets connected to the Common/Ground (-) wire of the transformer and the red wire of the bar to the Hot/Voltage (+) wire.

Once everything was cut, drilled, and soldered I put it all together and now I have this…

Front Close

It looks a bit ridiculous, but I CAN SEE EVERYTHING!  The wide set of LEDs also helps cut shadows because the light is coming from 12 slightly different directions.  Reflections can be a problem if I’m looking straight at a flat surface.  But, all I need to do then is tilt the surface (or my head) a bit and the reflections disappear.

Visor Lit

The picture above is taken in a brightly lit room (same lighting in the other pictures I took above).  Notice how the background is darker?  That is the camera darkening the photo to compensate for the extra bright LEDs.

If anyone else is interested in building one, I’m happy to provide some more detailed instructions.  Just let me know!

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