case mod 101: mouse LED swap

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The LED is in a plastic clip. The assembly is held in place by a wire clip. Remove and set aside the wire clip, then desolder the LED from the board and remove it with the clip still attached. That’s a number of steps, so here’s pics of the process:

wire clip
the wire clip pops off
flip the board
desolder the LED from the bottom of the board
use solder wick
you can use a desoldering tool, or the much cheaper solder wick

The thing to watch for at this stage is don’t leave the iron in place too long–you may lift traces from the board. But you have to apply heat to melt the solder to remove the red LED. The solder wick gets heated by your iron and absorbs the liquid solder.

With the LED removed, we can see the correct polarity is marked on the top of the board, which is good because I never check before I remove LEDs. ;) Checking the markings, we can remove the red LED and insert our white replacement into the clear clip to be installed.

handy markings
very thoughtful to provide a clear marking
clip ready to install
the LED is inserted in the clear holder and ready to install

Ther are pins on the holder that fit in the board, keeping everything lined up neatly. You can prebend the LED leads, or just fiddle it into place. Polarity counts though, so pay attention to those markings. Leave the leads on the replacement LED full length until you’ve soldered it to the board. Then trim the leads just longer than flush with the board.

replacement LED installed
the new LED is in place, and leads trimmed

Next it’s time to test our connections. If we did our job right, plugging the board into a live USB port should light up the LED. If we fail this test, it’s time to check our solder connections, LED polarity, and make sure we didn’t lift traces off the circuit board. With a bit of luck and a lot of planning, this mod passed the test on the first try.

light me up
the payoff: a white LED mouse

All that remains is to reassemble our modded mouse. If you wanted to vinyl dye the shell or cord, now would be a great time for that too. Keeping track of all the little springs is tricky but essential. The mouse won’t work without them, so don’t lose them, and put them back together carefully (pictures from before disassembly can help you out of a jam).

a mouse back together
flipped over to show off the smoke grey bottom shell

And that all there is to it. More advanced mouse mods include:

  • adding LEDs, which involves finding power inside the mouse case and using a proper resistor
  • adding windows to show off the modded internals
  • adding a fan (Japala’s rottaflekti mod) to cool your hand while you compute

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