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Old 12-03-2012, 07:20 PM   #1
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Lightbulb HOWTO make a Kobo sleep cover from a regular cover for about $2

The new Kobo Glo and Kobo Mini ereaders have a special feature. They contain magnetic switches that can make them sleep and wake in the presence of a small magnet. If you already have an ordinary, non-sleep case for your Glo or Mini, I will show you how to turn it into a sleep case very quickly and inexpensively.

What you will need:
  • Your regular case. (This NeoSkin Kindle Zip Sleeve works great for me. Dig the skull-and-crossbones design. I chose it because, um, you can't take your ebooks with you. It's a memento mori, right? Right.)
  • A small, powerful magnet. (Radio Shack sells the Rare Earth Super Magnets (2-Pack) for US $2.49, which is where the "about $2" comes in. These are tiny (3/16") but extremely powerful, good for triggering your Kobo's sleep function without taking up too much room in the case.)
  • Some sticky tape. Depending on your case, you have many options here. I used gaffer tape because it's strong and matches the black interior of my case. You could use duct tape, electrical tape, or even cellophane tape, which I used while trying to pinpoint where to put the magnet.
  • Scissors (for the tape).

Now that you have your supplies, here are the basic steps.
  1. Very important: Turn on the magnetic sensing capability of the Kobo. Touch the three-bars icon in the upper right of the screen (under firmware 2.1.5). Select Settings > Light, Sleep & Power > Page 2 > Automatically sleep and wake up. I spent a day and a half wondering why no magnet I tried could activate my Glo, despite using some pretty powerful ones. Now you'll know better.
  2. Exit Settings and wave your magnet around the bottom-right corner of the Kobo screen. I literally mean the screen and not the bezel. To get at the magnet, you would have to peel the screen up -- it's behind the screen's layers. (Don't actually do this!) See if you can make the Kobo sleep and wake up, depending on how close you bring the magnet. Once you can reliably do this, you're ready for the next step.
  3. Temporarily tape down the magnet. If your case opens like a book, as mine does, you'll need to tape the magnet on the inside front cover. The advantages of cellophane tape are that it's easier to see where you're positioning the magnet, and it's also easy to unstick and reposition.
  4. Now try to sleep and wake your Kobo by closing and opening the case. If it worked with a loose magnet, but not with one taped to the case, move it around until you get it right. My magnet ended up near the lower-left corner of the inside front.
  5. Permanently tape down the magnet. First, once you're sure you know where the magnet should go, press down on the magnet with your thumb. It should make a small, temporary indentation in the case unless the case is diamond or titanium or something. Then, lift up the cellophane tape, replace the magnet in the indentation, and tape it down with stronger, heavier, better-looking tape.

Now you should have a functional and relatively handsome CheapSleep for a fraction of the cost of a genuine Kobo SleepCover, and available in a much wider variety of colors, patterns, and form factors.

I sometimes find the wake/sleep feature a little annoying, but there was little reason not to install it into my case, because it was so inexpensive, easy, reversible, and I can turn the feature off temporarily any time I want in Settings. Plus, I learned a few things. So enjoy!

Last edited by rwhe; 12-04-2012 at 12:40 AM. Reason: clarity, brevity
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Old 12-05-2012, 12:07 AM   #2
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Does using the automatic sleep/wakeup feature use any battery? I.e. when you close the cover and the Kobo goes to sleep, is it just a sleep or does it actually turn off?
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Old 12-05-2012, 12:23 AM   #3
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As far as I know, it's just sleep mode, the same as usual on the Kobo (with the microscopic difference that the Kobo is now monitoring the magnetic switch instead of ignoring it). As described elsewhere on MobileRead, waking uses more battery than sleeping, which uses more battery than being "off", but they all use some battery power.
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Old 12-05-2012, 11:00 PM   #4
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Nice hack. Is there any chance of the raised magnet coming into contact with the screen or stressing the glass substrate of the e-ink screen if the cover is impacted or squeezed? I ask since I'm assuming they bury the magnet flush inside the covers designed for this?

If so, perhaps a "dam" made of layers of felt that surround the magnet with a final layer covering the magnet might help distribute any force over a larger area. A little gel type super glue and you're set. Should add very little to your cost -I bought an about 8.5 x11" sheet of black felt for less than a quarter in WalMart a month or so ago so I could cover the metal bracket on a reading light so it wouldn't scratch my reader's bezel.

Last edited by TechniSol; 12-05-2012 at 11:11 PM.
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Old 12-06-2012, 02:48 AM   #5
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Thanks! I was wondering a little about this already, but I found the magnet is so thin that it doesn't normally dip all the way into the well in the bezel, such that it would touch the screen when the cover was closed.

Of course, you're not talking about normal conditions. You're talking about someone grabbing both case and Kobo hard, like a hamburger they're about to take a bite of. In that case, the felt sounds like pretty good insurance, and I may try it soon.

In more extreme conditions, such as someone sitting on your Kobo, it's probably doomed, magnet, felt, or nothing.
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:01 PM   #6
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I hate to say it, 'cause I know it happens, but sitting on any device too large, or too fragile to occupy your back pocket has got to be embarrASSing! Truly a wonder I've yet to do that. I did once manage to kill a Mitsubishi Amity mini laptop by spilling the water from my nightstand on it while asleep... That was about $500 worth of painful.

I didn't remember those little neodymium magnets were that thin. I know there is a pair of them floating around in my shop somewhere from RatShack... possibly stuck to a nice steel mechanic's toolbox.

If you're worried about the cover getting squeezed really hard, maybe one or two of those stick on rubber feet trimmed appropriately and placed over the bezel would keep the magnet off the screen? Unfortunately, anything you add except in the area of the screen depression tends to make your cover stay open and makes it thicker.

The speck case for my Touch seems to have been designed with a pad built into the front cover for the express purpose of spreading out any force applied to the front cover over the entire surface area of the display.
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Old 12-07-2012, 02:17 PM   #7
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If you managed to knock the magnet hard against the screen, it might do some damage, especially without extra felt or rubber padding. However, my NeoSkin case seems designed to prevent that kind of mishap. While the back is as soft as regular neoprene, the front contains a somewhat hard, inflexible plate, clearly meant to absorb blows.
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Old 12-12-2012, 10:50 PM   #8
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TechniSol and others concerned about the CheapSleep magnet's possibly damaging the screen: I was thinking about this on the bus, and it seems to me that if you have a soft case, if/when the magnet strikes the screen, it's likely to be pushed farther backwards by the hard screen into the soft case than forwards by the soft case into the hard screen.

Although the front of my case does contain a stiffish plastic plate, it's surrounded by neoprene and thus (IMHO) more likely to give than the screen. Once again, if your case is made of diamond or titanium, all bets are off...

This could be folk physics, though. I haven't done the math, let alone experimented. If Kobo would like to donate a spare Glo for use as a crash test dummy, I promise it will find a good home if it survives.
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Old 01-24-2013, 12:14 PM   #9
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I'm not very knowledgeable when it comes to magnets and their strength. Would the magnet from a hard-drive be too powerful? Could it damage my Kobo Mini?
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Old 01-24-2013, 02:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redjack443 View Post
I'm not very knowledgeable when it comes to magnets and their strength. Would the magnet from a hard-drive be too powerful? Could it damage my Kobo Mini?
I don't know whether it would be too powerful (I can't think of anything inside a Kobo that would be affected by magnetism except the switch itself), but it would probably be far too heavy and bulky. I've taken apart hard drives, and compared to the magnet I used in my case, those magnets are huge. They're also more likely to crack your screen, I think.
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Old 01-24-2013, 03:08 PM   #11
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The magnet isn't that big. It's a little shorter than an SD card, half as wide, and only slightly thicker. Also, my cover has a pocket in the front. If the magnet (or more precisely the magnetism) won't damage the reader it should work out.
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Old 01-24-2013, 03:17 PM   #12
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Quote:
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The magnet isn't that big. It's a little shorter than an SD card, half as wide, and only slightly thicker. Also, my cover has a pocket in the front. If the magnet (or more precisely the magnetism) won't damage the reader it should work out.
Do you mean an SD card or a micro-SD card of the sort the Kobo uses? If the former, that's still a lot bigger than the magnet I've been using.

The Kobo does not use a magnetic hard drive for storing books or software, so it seems unlikely that you would corrupt your data. However, I'm not an electrical engineer and I'm not qualified to give you advice on using such relatively powerful magnets with the Kobo. Anyway, it sounds as if you have your mind made up. Good luck.

Last edited by rwhe; 01-24-2013 at 03:17 PM. Reason: good luck
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Old 02-04-2013, 07:23 PM   #13
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Now you should have a functional and relatively handsome CheapSleep for a fraction of the cost of a genuine Kobo SleepCover, and available in a much wider variety of colors, patterns, and form factors.
Indeed I do, and it cost me just 36 cents for the magnet (at http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/pag...=1,42363,42348), and a couple of business cards and some Scotch tape to hold it in the right position.
Thanks for the detailed instructions, rwhe.
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:04 PM   #14
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You're welcome, Tom. My day job is technical writing. I live to document.
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Old 02-18-2013, 01:27 PM   #15
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Anyone here speaks Portuguese?

I created a video tutorial, talking in portuguese, about the whole process:



Thanks for the tutorial!

Cheers
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