USB powered.

 10 Jun 2003 

The Glow Pad Project

Computer customization, modification and Personalization.


In mid 2003, I changed my computer and got a brand new one. One thing I did not like was the mouse pad - that thin piece of plastic which had ugly design. Instead of getting a new normal mouse pad, I decided to make my own glowing mouse pad.  In the realm of computer modding (modification), this is probably one of the simplest and basic things one can do. Basically, by using the power from a USB outlet, we light up several LEDs of any colour into a piece of clear acrylic/Perspex/lexan. The edges will glow up, creating a nice even glow which makes a lovely addition to any desktop, which is exactly what I wanted with my new computer - to create a refreshing new look.

This page documents my glow pad updates, and include comprehensive construction details so that you can make your own glow pad. With the right materials, it can be easily assembled in one afternoon.

The first glowpad

 10 Jun 2003 

The glow pad is born. Blue was chosen - 3 ultra bright  blue LEDs were used. Here is a list of the materials used:

1. 8mm thick Acrylic (size depends on your mouse pad size)
2. Suitable mouse pad to put on top of the acrylic.
3. 4 Clear Rubber Legs
4. 3 5mm Ultra Bright 3V LEDs at 20mA. Whichever colours you want.
5. Aluminum Bracket to hid circuit
6. 39ohm Resistor
7. Insulated wires
8. Insulating tape
9. Soldering Iron
10. USB head / cable
11. Switch
12. 5mm Drill Bit
13. Drill

Construction Details

Step 1:

I used 8mm thick acrylic. Too thin and it will be difficult to drill the holes of the LEDs. Too thick and it will fell uncomfortable. The thickness is up to you. I sawed mine to a 23x27cm size. Always remember to leave at least a 1cm border on one side to allow drilling the holes for the LEDs, and gluing the metal bracket down to conceal the electronics. Once sawed to the desired size, I clamped the acrylic down and drilled 3 holes, equally spaced apart at the side of the acrylic.

1. As long as the LED fits in, it's fine.
2. Acrylic with 3 holes drilled
Remember not to take off the protective covering until project is complete. It is to keep away all your greasy fingerprints and the scratches.

Step 2:

This glow pad runs on a USB connection. USB has an output of 5VDC, and we will be using this to power our LEDs. First splice up your USB cable. There should be 4 wires inside. We only need 2.

Red and Black: The 5V power
Green and White: Data Wires. We won't need that.

Here's my circuit and how I wired them up.

Try to keep it as neat as possible. Once done, solder them together. I insulated all connections with heat shrink.

1. Everything wired up and soldered.
2. Soldering Iron and the soldering lead.

Step 3.

Plug it in the USB to test. If you soldered everything correctly, it should look like this:
It lights up! Ultra blue and bright!
Plugged in the USB with a nice cable :)

I used double sided tape to attach the aluminum bracket to the acrylic... that's before I get my epoxy.

Now all you need to do now is to remove the protective covering, stick the 4 rubber legs and add your mouse pad on it. I am using a frosted sheet of plastic as the mousepad. It fits well with blue and has that cool frosty feeling.

1. View from top
2. The aluminum bracket hides everything

This is my completed glow pad.

Cost of Items

1. 23cm x 27cm x 8mm clear acrylic - $8
2. Mouse pad material from Art Friends - $0.95
3. 4 Clear Rubber Legs - $4 for a pack of 14
4. 3, 5mm Ultra Blue 3V LEDs at 20mA. - $1.80
5. Aluminum Bracket - $1
6. 39ohm Resistor - free
7. Insulated wires - $1
8. Insulating tape - nil
9. Soldering Iron - nil
10. USB head / cable - $3.00
11. Switch - $0.50
12. 5mm Drill Bit - $2.00
13. Drill - nil

Total cost: ~$19.40 SGD


More Photographs

 1. Glow pad at night.. makes a good night light.        2. The glow pad illuminating the surrounding.


 28 Feb 2004 


In February 2004, the double sided tape had totally lost the stickiness and came off. There were also some connection problems resulting in the LEDs not lighting up. I decided to redo the circuit. This time, I changed the blue LEDs with orange LEDs, for a change. I also added a nice switch and made the pad neater. The aluminum bracket was attached with a two part epoxy for a strong and permanent bond. I also bought a new optical mouse - A4 Tech Rainbow. It's a nice orange optical mouse with  really lovely colours. This is the final result and is really quite lovely especially at night.


This is the current glow pad I am using.


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(c) Gao Guangyan 2011
Contact: loneoceans [at] gmail [dot] com

Loneoceans Laboratories. Copyright (c) 2003 - 2011 Gao Guangyan, All Rights Reserved. Design 3.
Removal of any material from this site without permission is strictly prohibited and will result in infringement of copyright laws.
Disclaimer: Projects and experiments listed here are dangerous and should not be attempted.
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