Introduction: Illuminated Pencil Box With Arduino

I found a little wooden box and thought about making it a nice rest for my pens. I think there are several - perhaps easier and cheaper methods to modify this little box - but I just wanted to use stuff I had already at home.


• Wooden Box
• LED Strip
• Transistor - since the LED strip I had was 12v
• Breadboard
• Jumper wires
• Perfboard
• Plexi glass
• Resistor
• Thin plywood

Step 1: Removing the Lid, Sawing and Painting

At first I removed the lid by unscrewing the tiny screws of the latches. After that I measured 2 cm from the outer boarder and marked the inner square with a pencil. To saw out the excess I drilled holes in the four corners, fed the blade of the fretsaw through one and began sawing as straight as possible. Since I have no other electric tools I had to use this method, but It worked out just fine. After sawing I had to trim the edges down as good as I could with a file and a delta sander. Finally I moved to the acrylic glass, measured the size it need it to be, cut it with a utility knife and cracked it to its final size.

For the false bottom I decided to make two small notches with my rotary tool into a piece of fitting plywood. From my last project I had the can of stone-effect spray which I took to spray the plywood. I think it ads a nice effect in the end.

Step 2: Prototyping

At first I thought that I cannot operate my LED strip which I removed from a salvaged project, but after a little bit of research I found a tutorial over at adafruit how to connect a 12v strip to an Arduino. The tutorial was about an RGB strip, but mine is just plain white, so I tried to adapt it to the strip I had - and it worked. This was the first time I used a transistor. Here I used the TIP120 which was in my arduino starter-kit. As for the code, I again used the fading LED sketch from the Arduino IDE. Perhaps I will change this, but for testing it was good.

To make the small circuit more sturdy I decided to solder it permanently to a small piece of perfboard, so that I can stack it on the arduino.

Step 3: Assembly

To assemble everything I first screwed the Arduino in place so that I can plug the power adapter into the backside. To get the cable from the bottom part to the lid I drilled two holes and fed a cable through. Then it was time to screw the hinges back onto the box and the lid. After everything worked out fine I could fit in the false bottom to hide the Arduino and place the pencils in the box.

Thank you very much for reading!


russ_hensel made it!(author)2016-02-03

What program are you using to run the Arduino?

ChristophF1 made it!(author)2016-02-03

Hi Russ,

just the regular Arduino IDE (e.g. :

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