If you find yourself wishing that your netbook was easier to use in the dark, this tutorial will help you add an LED right into the lid and keep those keys illuminated.
The easiest way to go about solving the problem would be to stick a USB reading light in your netbook bag and plug that in when needed, but netbook owner Vikash didn’t want to have to carry something extra to replicate the built in keyboard LED he used to have on his ThinkPad. He cracked open the case of his Dell Vostro — which matches the Dell Mini 9 for those of you who want to follow along — and wired in an LED to the motherboard.
His hack is fairly advanced and includes hooking up the LED to the CTRL key via a small programmable microchip so that he can control the LED light via the hardware independently of the OS — he includes the code for the microchip. If you don’t want to get your hands that dirty you could always wire the LED right onto one of the USB ports and leech your power from there to enable an always-on LED light. Check out the link below for pictures, schematics and the source code for the microchip. Have a clever hardware hack of your own to share? Let’s hear about it in the comments.