"No-Solder" Light Mod for WowWee RovioPosted by milw on Monday, 24 November 2008
Here's my solution for the low-light sensitivity of the Rovio cam- take the 6 existing blue LEDs and remount them at the front of Rovio, so instead of uselessly beaming all those precious blue photons straight up onto the ceiling, the cool blue LEDs will help light the way. After dark, driving with the blue lights on is a snap, and it looks pretty cool too!
All that is required is a ~3 mm drill bit (I used a #33, 0.113" = 2.9 mm), a screwdriver, a hobby knife, and a bit of tape.
I figured it would be best to have the lights mounted at the leading edge of Rovio, and since the top shell extends down over the lower shell, there is sufficient plastic to allow drilling of mounting holes right in the edge of the shell. Here's the inside view of the top shell, showing where I planned to mount the blue LEDs. I think you can mark and drill the holes while the Rovio is still assembled, as the front LEDs are protected within the clear plastic blocks (painted white on the inner surfaces).
I marked the spots on the upper shell, and used a hobby knife tip to pre-drill small guide holes at each position.
Then I used the drill bit in a hand held chuck to manually drill out the plastic. I tried to aim the holes so the LEDs would point slightly down and away from the center as indicated by the arrows in the first image. Here are the holes after drilling. You need to drill through both the upper and lower shells, or at least slightly into the lower shell to mark where you need to cut away the inner rim.
Now you can take the 6 bottom screws out (you removed your battery before beginning this, right?) and separate the shells. Remove the 12 screws holding the 6 white blocks in place, slide the LEDs out, and then replace the 4 rear white blocks. The front blocks don't fit in place once the LEDs are mounted, so you'll have to leave them out. Check the length of the LED wires- on my Rovio, the wires for the front LED closest to the controller board were just a smidge too short, so I had to remove the two screws holding the controller board as well. Luckily there is space in here to allow the controller board to be moved a bit forward.
Push the LEDs into the drilled holes gently- it should be a snug fit. If the seem loose, I'd recommend a dab of hot-glue to hold them in place. Here are some views of mine after mounting. Use some tape to secure the wires and the controller board if necessary.
I didn't get a good picture, but you need to use the hobby knife to carve away the plastic from the lower shell. My holes were drilled all the way through, so I just cut away all the plastic between the holes, and then enlarged the opening by about 1-2 mm all the way around. I'd recommend using a file and test-fitting the shell back together, so you get enough cut away without leaving unsightly gaps.
Now fit the shells back together, replace the bottom screws and the battery, and away you go into that great darkness! (Well, actually it is still daylight here, so I haven't had a chance to take any images yet, but puttting a white board in front of Rovio shows that these 6 blue LEDs are putting out at least as much light as the single white headlight, and in a more dispersed pattern.
Darkened room, aimed at a white board at range of 20" from cam.
Blue LEDs alone; with headlight; headlight alone. Note that these images are auto-exposure adjusted by the camera, but I think you get the drift.