Introduction: Beambox: NEXT - the Tower That Glows to Your Commands

Picture of Beambox: NEXT - the Tower That Glows to Your Commands

Beambox NEXT is the second version of the cheap, easy to build light tower.

It runs off of an Arduino Nano and costs less than $15. What's new is this version is the redesigned base, accompanied by 3 capacitive touch buttons and a much heavier wooden base making it less prone to falling over.

The Beambox: NEXT has many effect presets that you can chose from using the capacitive touch button, this means you can use the Beambox: NEXT without a computer. The presets are customisable, with some including:

  • Rainbow cycle
  • Fade in-out of any colors
  • Twinkle effect in any color
  • Just colors

All of these effects are customization in the thousands of colors to choose from.

There is even an option to control the beambox with your computer using the light sequencing program, Vixenlights! (not my program)

Don't like to code? No problem! All the code is provided for you so you can have fun choosing the right colors instead of choosing the right syntax to program it with.

If you have read this far that means that you are interested in the Beambox Next. Be sure to vote so I can level up my equipment to make even better instructables!

Step 1: What's in the Package?

This is an explanation step, skip over it to get straight to the building steps!

The Beambox NEXT light tower with 6/7 individually addressable LED's (WS2811) which are controlled by an Arduino Nano.

The Arduino can take inputs from a computer or from any of the 3 capacitive touch buttons located on the back of the base.

Lighting effects on the beambox can include:

  • Solid Colors
  • Fading Colors
  • Rainbow Fade/Cycle
  • Candle/Flicker
  • & many more

Step 2: Materials

Picture of Materials

Step 3: Base Construction

Picture of Base Construction

After completing this step, you should have the base complete with the 3 capacitive touch buttons (in the form of screws).

To get there, first you have to cut the slots that will hold the front and the back of the corflute tower. To do this, you need to just cut 2 slots (about 150mm deep & 2-3mm wide) into the square piece of wood and then check to see if the corflute fits into it nicely. You may need to flatten the corflute a bit but it should be able to fit.

Now, you need to choose the positions of the three screws that will become the capacitive touch buttons. After you have chosen the position, then you need to drill a particularly long guiding hole for the screw - this should be longer than the actual screw.

Then you need to drill another hole directly above that hole that you drilled, but on the top of the wooden block. The photo's explain this better.

This hole will need to be drilled down into the other hole you drilled going horizontally.

Here you have to strip off a substantial amount of insulation off 3 wires - the exposed ends then need to be pushed into the holes from the top. While holding those wires in the top - it is needed then to drill the screw in so that it grab the exposed wires - thus making a connection between the wires on top and the screws facing the outside of the wooden base.

Here is a gif to show this better.

If you also noticed in the pictures, I drilled an trench for the middle button's wire to guide it under the Arduino Nano to allow it to sit flat.

Step 4: Tower Construction

Picture of Tower Construction

Phew, so the base is done - now all that's left on the construction side of things is the tower and the connection between them.

The tower comprises of 3 parts:

  1. 2 long corflute strips
  2. 2 slightly shorter corflute strips
  3. The LED strip (or string)

So first, we will begin with cutting the corflute strips.

I wanted the Beambox to be around 45cm but these strips can be whatever size you want.

To account for the inset tabs that hold the beambox onto the base, I (of course) didn't plan it and calculate the measurements - so I rather just inserted some corflute in and marked the height from the button of the base.

Then for the 2 shorter strips, it is as easy as just making them the length that you want the whole tower to be.

After that, grab one of the two longer corflute strips and put it in the base as if you were making the actual thing. Next, align the Arduino Nano against it - this will give you a guide on the hole that you need to cut for the USB cable to go through and connect to the Arduino. After you have measured it then it needs to be cut out using for example, a hobby knife.

Step 5: Tower Construction (p.t. 2)

Picture of Tower Construction (p.t. 2)

Gather the LED's as now we will be attaching them to the untouched long strip of corflute we made. There are now two paths to take depending if you are using:

1. An LED strip (like this one here)

For an LED strip, you just need to peel the backing off it and possibly add a little bit of hot glue.

or

2. An LED string (for example, this one)

So now grab the hot glue gun, and next you should glue a long strip onto a short strip. Do this twice so that you have 2 glued pieces. Then after that, just glue those two together so that it forms a tall box (as seen in the photos).

It's not done yet though!

For the finale - grab a small piece of corflute and cut out a square to "top it all off" (with a top for the Beambox)

Step 6: Soldering

Picture of Soldering

This is an easy step because soldering really isn't that hard.

Just grab your soldering iron and make these connections - be sure to put the connectors where it tells you to.

Follow the schematic included below. There is also a color key below the picture to show you what the colors mean if you are unsure.

COLOR KEY

Yellow - Arduino D9 to the LED strip

Red - Arduino +5v to LED strip +5v

Grey - Arduino GND to LED strip's GND

Black - Arduino GND to 1 side of all the 1M ohm resistors

Magenta - Arduino Data 4 to Touch Button 3

Light Blue - Arduino Data 5 to Touch Button 2

Light Green - Arduino Data 8 to Touch Button 1

Step 7: Code

Picture of Code

Make sure to have Adafruit's Neopixel library installed when uploading. It is available here and or on the library manager.

You also need a library call CapacitiveSensor - it is available from Arduino.cc Playground here. The page also includes lots of information on the theories behind capacitive sensing if that is what you are into.

After those two libraries are installed - fire up the custom code available here:

If you are going to want to be controlling the Beambox NEXT by itself with the capacitive buttons:

Use this code: MIRROR 1 | MIRROR 2

If you are going to be controlling the Beambox using the light sequencing software, VIXENLIGHTS:

Then use this code instead: MIRROR 1 | MIRROR 2

Comments

MattS315 (author)2016-12-09

The video is not working. It is set to private.

Biskit01 (author)2016-05-23

i like turtles

MehdiK15 (author)2016-04-22

Hello sir. This is an awesome project!
I have acquired everything but right before I could start I noticed that my led strip (see picture) has 5 cables: one for +5V, one for the ground and 3 for the leds.
It is however the same as the one of your link in the materials description:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/WS2811-5050-RGB-LED-Strip-...
I am not sure if I should solder the three cables together or if I should remove the plastic untill I find a single cable. Can you help me?

Also what dimensions did you use for the wooden block?
Thank you in advance

PerfectPixel (author)MehdiK152016-04-22

Not to worry, the LEDs you got are the rigt ones. If you look later on in thr strip you will see probably 3 or 4 solder tabs (migt have an extra GND). there are simply 5 cables soldered onto it to make it so that you can use an external power supply (which is not used in this project). Any of the RED cables connect to the power line of the strip, any of the BLACK cables connect to GND and the single GREEN cable connects to the data output on thr arduino. As for the wood block, it was cut as long as it was wide (a square) at 90mm.

Hope that clears things up for you.

MehdiK15 (author)PerfectPixel2016-04-26

Ohw yes, that sounds obvious with your explanation.
Now I can start make it (in the near future).
Thank you!

DuaneJ1 (author)2016-04-08

Found the code for the threshold - yes! Thanks PerfectPixel for you help, my little project is working beautifully now. Thanks again!

PerfectPixel (author)DuaneJ12016-04-08

No problem :D

DuaneJ1 (author)2016-04-08

HI. Very cool project, thanks for sharing this. I've followed the steps but am sitting with a bit of a weird issue. With the capacitive sensor/switch they only work when my Arduino is connected to my PC and I've either uploaded or connected via serial monitor. Now it's not to say it's the Capacitive sensor just that it does not work when it's just connected to a power source. I've copied the CapacitiveSenosr library and Adafruit's Neopixel library. I have played around with the capacitive sketch example and neopixel sketch just see how they work (also using a battery pack) before using the code from the mirror. Any help would be much appreciated.

PerfectPixel (author)DuaneJ12016-04-08

Have you tried changing the threshold in the code? Also, what value resistor are you using?

DuaneJ1 (author)PerfectPixel2016-04-08

Found it and changed the thresholds, now it's working perfectly. Thanks for help!

DuaneJ1 (author)PerfectPixel2016-04-08

I've used a 1Meg resistor. Which part of the code changes the threshold?

MiguelS56 (author)2016-01-09

one more question, what's the name of the wires that connect the led strip to the arduino, i have a spare led strip at home but doesn't have the connector wires anymore... where can i get those wires

PerfectPixel (author)MiguelS562016-01-09

You can just solder on any wires to the LED strip. What kind of LED strip do you have? Does it have 4 tabs to solder to or does it have 3?

MiguelS56 (author)PerfectPixel2016-01-11

my led strip has four : 3 for colours ( RGB) and the pwr tab

PerfectPixel (author)MiguelS562016-01-12

Sadly that kind won't work as it requires extra programming and electronics. You should look at the second step for links to find where to buy the right kind of led strip.

NdegwaE (author)2016-01-11

Might be sort of a beginner question, but is this achievable with the Arduino Uno instead of the nano?

PerfectPixel (author)NdegwaE2016-01-11

theoreticwlly, yes - bur you will need to mwke sure there is enough space for the UNO to fit.

Srijal97 (author)2016-01-06

Arduino nano and micro are different. Nano has a mini USB port and atmega328p whereas Micro has a micro USB port and atmega32U4.

Cool design btw! :)

PerfectPixel (author)Srijal972016-01-06

Yeah that is meant to be a Nano in the diagram but the circuit program only had a micro...

MiguelS56 (author)2016-01-05

Hi! Loved the guide it's really easy to understand specially for begginers like myself.
i was wondering though, is there a way you can make it work like a sound graph effect through audio input? Like if there's no sound it doesn't turn on and if there's sound , the LEDs turn on and off according to the base or the volume of the sound. Is there any way that can work?
another question, how much was every
thing?
nevertheless this is my next weekend project, loved it

Peder Ward (author)MiguelS562016-01-06

If you read this instructables :

https://www.instructables.com/id/The-LED-Lightning-SimulatorBreathalyzerGraphic-E/

And add that to PerfectPixel instructable I think you have what you mean.

PerfectPixel (author)MiguelS562016-01-05

In response to the sound question. I'm sure there is but I have 0 experience in making what I think you are thinking of: an equalizer sort of thing. Someone has probably made this kind of thing for an LED strip by itself, but you would need to adapt the code to work in this setting (which shouldn't be too hard).

PerfectPixel (author)MiguelS562016-01-05

In response to the price question. It says in the intro that it costs around $5 - $15. For a bit more of a breakdown:

1M LED strip - $8 (only use about 30cm out of the 1m)

Arduino Nano - $3

Corflute - $5 (for a huge sheet enough to make 4 beambox's)

Wires, Screws, Wood, Cables, etc < $5

MiguelS56 (author)MiguelS562016-01-05

EDIT: i also dont understand very well where to connect the other ends of the resistors (the ends not marked black)
sorry for being dumb but this is gonna be my 1st arduino project

PerfectPixel (author)MiguelS562016-01-05

In response to the resistor question, you follow the schematic/diagram on step 6 which if you follow the green, magenta and blue lines will connect to 3 of the data pins on the Arduino.

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