Saturday, October 15, 2011

Switch Adapted Fiber Optic Lamp

A couple of years ago our I received a Starlight Fiber Optic Lamp through a grant.  This wonderful sensory device has many features including a spinning bouquet of fiber optic lights, sound sensitive LED lights that glow through the fibers and soothing ambient sound effects.  Students loved watching, touching and listening to the lamp.

In the back of my mind I have been intending to adapt it to be switch controlled for a while, but with so many knobs and buttons a simple battery interrupter would not work.  So when I finally found a few free hours I broke out the toolbox and soldering iron.

I knew I wanted to switch adapt the sound effects button, which would allow even students with CVI and/or low vision to use the lamp with a switch.  If I did it correctly pressing an attached external ability switch would allow my students to scan through the sounds of the sea, crickets in a field, an organ playing and a few others.

Once the black chassis was unscrewed and taken apart several small tact switches were located inside.  Luckily they were labelled and it was easy to pop off the one marked "audio".  It took a few tries to determine which two of the four places where the tact switches were attached were the where the new switch port should be soldered.  Once that was done I soldered the other ends of the wire to a 1/8" female switch port.  In this process my soldering iron broke and I replaced it, meaning everything sat in a box for about a week.  Since so much time had passed remembering how to put everything back in the chassis was tricky.  Next time I will snap photos of every step of the process, just in case.  Finally we tried it out, it worked perfectly and has been in heavy rotation during our brief daily independent leisure periods. 

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