Wednesday, December 12, 2007

IR LED pen schematic and IR keychain lights

I've uploaded a simple schematic of the IR LED pen I used. If you use a good LED, you can probably run it safely directly off a 1.5v AAA battery without a resistor. I used Vishay TSAL6100 940nm IR LEDs running at 100mA which I bought from Mouser. But, you can find usable LEDs and everything else you need from RadioShack. A number of people have also written in saying that some places sell IR keychain lights which may work right out of the box. NOTE: If you rough up the end of your LEDs, they will be more omni-directional and more easily seen by the wiimote.


dan said...

ahh so you used 100mA. I was using 20mA and found it is not powerful enough.

Also for anyone wanting to know how to figure out what resistors to use is good.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Did you consider making the LED pressure-sensitive so it illuminates when pressed against a hard surface? I can see how this might be problematic with delicate or uneven surfaces, but it may be worth exploring.

dan said...

tekchick: I have made my pen with a pressure sensitive LED and you are right it does not work well with an uneven surface (eg textured wallpaper), it is nice with a glossy smooth surface like a traditional whiteboard though... one problem is trying to find a pressure switch that is sensitive enough so one does not have to press too hard to activate the LED.

Adrian said...

My take on pressure sensitivity was this ...

If the Wiimote can detect intensity, you might be able to emulate some of the features of pressure sensitive touchpads, allowing you to utilise some of the features of art packages and the like that support them ; spray density, that sort of thing.

I'm not sure how easy it would be to vary the intensity of the pen in an analogue way though. I think that unless you are using a slick surface all the time, it might be best to make the finger switch pressure sensitive.

Unknown said...


I set mine up last night. The accuracy is a problem because my "lit area" is quite big, and its more like using my thumbs for something that is normally done with a lot of precision.

That said, it is really neat, and I'm looking forward to further experimentation on my 42" Plasma and soon in Linux.

One thing that's really got my goat is that in Windows every few minutes (while in your Whiteboard application) the number of LEDs goes to 1 and won't switch back to 0, and my Wiimote freezes. Typically this is also accompanied by the middle two lights (2&3) lighting up together. The only way to exit this is to remove the batteries from the wiimote and start bluesoleil over again (I'm using Blue Soleil 5.0.5). Any help on this would be cool.



Shivanand Velmurugan said...

Hey, found your website thru miguel de Icaza's post. This is soo cool. Do you plan to productize it?!

Btw, do you need some kind of driver to use the multi-point tracking instead of a mouse?!

Unknown said...


I'm french teacher and i would enjoy to use this! I wonder if we can "emulate" the right clic which will be powerful (i think about geogebra for example). Anyway to get it work with right-clic?

Thanks a lot!

The_sLideR said...

wow...great job Johnny!! ^_^
I just put a video with my version of "ir led pen"...too primitive pen! ;)

but I also try to remove the led into a lighter (the simple lighter with led) and put in it a IR led... cool!

I want to try to port it on a macosx ;)

Philipp said...

I just wanted to generally say how amazing this setup/idea is. I was planning to build a multitouch screen someday but this makes everything way easier, also to use it with a normal screen.

By the way, this might be a nifty use for presentations if used with an IR-laser pointer, which can be built from any old CD-Rom drive.
This should project an IR dot on your projective surface, which, if powerful enough, allows the Wiimote to track your hand movement in turn. So again cheap interactive Whiteboard, but now form ten feet away.

Unknown said...

Any idea about the type of IR Led to use ?

I'm interested to know which wavelength is giving the best result ...

As you can see here :

,there are many types of LED's.

IR should be over 1100nm.

Unknown said...

I should use it a pen irda or I can use a laser pen ?

Mickey Perlstein said...

I was wondering in regard to the Hardware requiremenets:

I understand you need a Wii remotecontrol and a LED Pen.

My question, there is the flat thing that connects under the TV, do i need that as well ?

Second, I have a multitude of laser pens, I give lectures.

can i use it ?

Marco Alves said...

I got so excited when I saw this web site for the first time! Congratulations for your job! You really deserves it!

StevenJT said...

Is 29mA sufficient? Thats all I can find online at radioshack but maybe they will have some at the store that are 100mA. I also found some regular small/mini LED flashlights that you can take out the current LED and replace it with another and I'm assuming that an IR LED would fit too.

Pacôme said...

Daniel: Could you send me the schemas of your pencil? Because I'm very interess by this project but I am not expert in electronics.

Ingmar said...

First of all I would like to say that this is a great idea.. I only want to ask something about the IR keychain lights: when I buy one of those, do I have to modify them to get all of it working? I could make a pen, but I'm pretty bad with electronics and stuff like that..


Unknown said...

I tryed so many IR LED's with 20mA to 100mA with a degree over 30.

Its not as powerfull as I had hoped, so going to check out 10 degree's LED's.

Hope they will work as good as johnny's, my current pen has to look directly in to the wiimote, and then I cant use it as a pen on the screen or projektor.

Unknown said...

@it1- Hello i've got the same problem so i had to bend the led towards back ; it's compensed during calibration. If you find another solution, keep me know please ;-).

Unknown said...

hello!!! very nice thing. I id somethink too with wiimote, but this your work is great!!!
i haveone idea to emulate rightclick. put to end of pen second infra led, ad switch will light both leds on pen. When in wiimote will capure two lights - its rightclick.

Si said...

I reckon the pens would be better in a whiteboard marker form factor. They're thicker and easier to hold, and it's what people are used to. Also they are big enough to hold a AAA battery.

Iyad Marzouka said...

Bought my IR LEDs from
And calculated the resistor values using this calculator

Working great :D

G Cadogan said...

I took out the dual click switch from a broken Canon digital camera. It's original use was to press the button a little to auto-focus then all the way down to snap a shot. I feel it would perfect for this type of project, whether placed on the side or used as a pressure sensitive tip.

bestonline323 said...

(Also to the first comment)The TSAL6100 infrared LED is the most powerful 940nm IRLED that is what i use. Its great.

Great post!


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Stevec said...

I want to warn that laser hacks can cause severe eye damage. The lasers used in DVD burners are higher power than is required for the Wii IR application. Do your research before experimenting with lasers.

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Unknown said...

I cant use it as a pen on the screen or projector.
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Unknown said...

I can see how this might be problematic with delicate or uneven surfaces, but it may be worth exploring.
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Unknown said...'s for an engineering project basically we are using an ir led emitter and detector but the detector only detects for about 5in...any idea how we can increase the range?

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