The author has started a new hobby/obsession: fountain pens, ink, and paper. Part of this is an effort to improve his handwriting. A part of this is handwritten letters to and from penpals. This may be a little out of place, maybe, for someone so immersed in technology, but in many ways it's because of it rather than in spite of it, trying to get away from the screen occasionally and doing something more artistic. There's something almost magical about your words taking form under the tip of a pen skating across a page.

Therein lies the problem: not only is my handwriting well out of practice, so is the ability to write in a straight line. The usual solution is to place a heavily lined ruled guide sheet under your paper. The problem is that with good paper, it's not always very visible. Technology to the rescue! Oh the irony.

This guide describes how to build what's commonly called a light table. It places a light behind the guidesheet and writing paper, making it much easier to see the lines through the paper. Light tables are also handy for slide photography, tracing, and reading film x-rays!

You can buy a simple one fairly inexpensively, or a professional quality one for much more. But that's not what Makers do; we build our own!

This guide uses the Feather nRF52840 Express as the controller for the project. It provides plenty of processing power to work in CircuitPython and, more importantly, it has a solid Bluetooth capability.

In addition to being able to 3D print the pieces (or have them printed), you'll need some basic soldering skills: soldering wires and attaching headers. You should also be comfortable working with superglue as it is used extensively to assemble the frame.


The parts required are listed below. 

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Wall wart power supply with 2.1mm DC output.
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1 x 5V 1.5A Linear Voltage Regulator - 7805 TO-220
Takes 7 to 35 volts and outputs 5 volts
1 x Panel Mount 2.1mm DC barrel jack
Designed to easily attach to a panel up to 8mm thick (0.315" or 5/16") and fit 2.1mm power plugs
1 x Female headers
Header Kit for Feather - 12-pin and 16-pin Female Header Set
1 x Hook-up Wire Spool Set - 22AWG Solid Core - 6 x 25 ft
For connecting the power jack to the board.
1 x USB Micro-B Breakout Board
This board has a USB Micro-B connector with all 5 pins broken out
1 x 1000uF 25v Electrolytic Capacitor
Capacitor used to soften the startup surge to the LED strip.
1 x M2.5x5mm
Machine screws to attach the Feather.
1 x Acrylic sheet for the top
Acrylic White Sheet, Translucent 55%, 12" x 12", 1/8" Thick

Additionally, you'll need some superglue to assembly the 3D printed pieces.

This guide was first published on Apr 17, 2019. It was last updated on Nov 29, 2023.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Apr 12, 2019.

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