"No-Solder" Light Mod for WowWee Rovio

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.

Holes Marked

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.

Holes drilled

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.

LEDs in

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.

Lights test

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Grandlarseny37's picture

Nice mod. Replacing the blue LED's with white ones would probably help brighten things up even more! Any chance you could post a video of your Rovio driving in the dark with all lights on?

milw's picture

I'm trying to get FRAPs working on my PC so I can record via the web page. Or did you mean using a hand-held video cam?

squale1969's picture

You can use VLC or email picture.
Please send me one.
Like Grandlarseny37 white LED's should be better than blue.
I'm wait now before start the work.

For VLC:
rovio on REFRESH LIST take Rovio and CONFIGURE (IP name pass PORT 80)
You can have "CONTROL" of rovio with basic commande
PLAY (video in windows)

Magge's picture

I did this mod and have taken some pictures.

It would probably be better with white lights. But I think this is ok. 

milw's picture

Nice vid, Magge- like the music too! (tho the last 8 minutes of the vid are kinda dark ;))
I'll try VLC and try to get something tonight, then replace blues with some whites from a 12-LED lantern.
(edit) so VLC on PC now has two Rovio capture device filters, but only the one starting with 'WowWee' appears to support the movement controls. (VLC for MacOSX has different menu arrangement and no Rovio filters). Strangely, the video is colored orange in VLC while appearing the normal blue in Firefox. I still haven't quite figured out how to get the stream to save to file, any hints?

Maikeru800's picture

Great mod! I wonder what other colors would suit it?

rlt1975's picture

I did the blue LED front mount trick but I didn't drill holes or cut any wires. I just ran 5 of the 6 blue LEDs that normally light around the perimeter of the Rovio through one of the front white plastic LED housings that the front left blue LED occupies. If you take the front left one out you can easily run 5 of the 6 through the hole. The other wire is too short to reach. I then bought an LED flashlight for $1.99 and used the chrome housing that had holes for the LEDs to direct the new blue LED lights. It beats just taping the blue LEDs together. I now have a bright, aimable blue "flashlight" on the front left of my Rovio and I didn't damage or alter it in any way. No drilling required.

giannimess's picture

We modified rovio with this solution, if you need informastions see the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwqkhjyZYoA or contact me.

thank you