I don’t care how great your touch typing skills are, when you’ve been drinking beer and jumping around on stage for an hour you’re going to need some light to help you trigger that next sample. Fortunately for laptop performers an increasing number of current machines are coming with integrated lighting solutions. Whether it’s the Macbook Pro’s backlit keyboard or the Thinkpad Thinklight these gadgets are a boon for electronic musicians.

My primary VJ machine is a Thinkpad so I’ve got no lighting issues there, but I also have a second Asus laptop for running Live or generating visuals. It has no keyboard light and I haven’t picked up a commerical LED lamp, so at the moment my keyboard technique is to feel for the f bump or to bend down and squint wildly. I did have a bunch of LEDs and USB cables waiting around for the right project, but it seems the project may have been waiting for me.

Australia’s Silicon Chip magazine published these cheap and cheerful instructions (via Make) in 2002. My electronics knowledge is minimal but perhaps a couple of LEDs could be chained to obviate the need for complicated things like resistors.

Alternatively: a bunch of LED throwies could be attached to nearby ferrous gear and angled to provide an audience of helpful fireflies.