With nights drawing in, many people particularly in the northern parts of the world are being affected by seasonal affective disorder. A Finnish company called Valkee claims to cure the winter blues with its bright light headset. According to the company, shining a bright torch in your ears has been shown to have a therapeutic effect.
I won’t comment on the bogosity of Valkee’s claims. I did, however, decide to see how cheaply I could build something similar to their Â£185 device.
My headset isn’t the same as Valkee’s. Theirs seems to use fiber optic, presumably to keep the size and temperature down. Mine uses ultra-bright LEDs. Their’s has a fancy timer. Mine doesn’t. Theirs has a rechargeable battery. Mine draws its power from a USB socket.
On with the show!
The LED dimmer uses a headphone volume control (from Maplin, although cheaper elsewhere) as it provides a handy stereo dimmer in a neat case, and with a suitable 3.5mm socket already included! I replaced the 3.5mm jack with a USB A plug so the dimmer can draw power from any USB port.
The earphones cost a couple of pounds on eBay. Theyâ€™re made of metal and are surprisingly well put together. I tried to choose a model which looked like it could be taken apart easily. This took a bit of prying and twisting (which scratched the cases a bit) but eventually they came apart just fine. Iâ€™m sure the sound quality is pretty poor but weâ€™re taking the speakers out so it doesnâ€™t matter.
I ripped the speaker elements out and fitted ultrabright white LEDs in their place. The LEDs are glued into place with epoxy. Because the phones are made of metal, I insulated the LED leads with some heatshrink.
The phones fully assembled and working. The rubber tips fit around the LEDs, with the lights protruding a little. They are fairly comfortable in the ears. The dimmer gives a good range of brightnesses. In this picture they are quite dim. At their brightest, they really are quite bright.