Introduction: Light Up Your Life: Programmable PC Lights
Have you ever wanted to give your computer a personal touch, add some light to your life, or add some pizzazz to your gaming machine to wow guests and competitors alike. If you answered yes to any of these questions this Instructable is for you. In this Instructable I will be showing how to add programmable LED's to the computer of your choice.
Step 1: Materials
There are not may required materials for lighting a computer but there are a few,
- a computer- nobody would ever guess but to add LED's to a computer you need a computer
- an Arduino Micro controller- preferably an Arduino UNO
- Sticky Velcro Squares- used to attach led strip to computer chassis, zip ties work as well
- an LED strip- I used a one meter strip of Adafruit NeoPixels
- an Arduino enclosure- I used a wooden case that was built for a different project
- a small PC fan- used to cool Arduino when being used for long periods of time
-(Optional) A small DC power supply- used to power Arduino
Step 2: Pre Installation Activities
Wow you made it to step 2.....and our cases still look boring :(. Sadly before we can install the LED's there is some preparation. Unless you have just bought a shiny new case, a small amount of dust has probably built up on the inside of your PC. DESTROY THE DUST, by destroy I mean casually wipe it off with a rag. Make sure you are properly grounded or you run the chance of ruining your computer through Electrostatic Discharge.
This is where the preparation differs depending the type of case you are lighting up. The case I decided to beautify was the Cooler Master Storm Trooper. To prep for installation with the Trooper case, remove the front HDD cages, take of the sides. For other cases, decide where you will put your LED strip, and remove any obstructions from the area where you will be working.
Now you must prep the LED's. I wanted the LED strip to be easily replaceable so i could use it in other projects, or quickly repair it. In order to do this I added Velcro to the back of the strips and to the interior of the case
Step 3: Install the LED'S
This is where things pick up, and if you have any creative ideas this is the time to put them to use. Attach the LED strip to the Velcro along the case, trying to place the LED's in a way where they are not visible themselves but the light emitted from them is. I lined the edge of the front of the case in such a way that the LED's would shine through the dust filter, but at the same time would be hidden by it.
Step 4: Wiring, Programming, and Testing
Now its time to whip out the Arduino.
Connecting a Neopixel LED strip to an Arduino Uno is pretty simple. A Neopixel strip has 3 connectors, DIN, GND, and 5V. The GND, and 5V are pretty straightforward, just plug them into the similarly labeled ports on the Arduino, however the location of DIN depends on your code. The program I uploaded to the Arduino had the default DIN pin set as pin 6, if you designate a different pin it must have PMW capabilities. I uploaded a slightly modified version of the Neopixel package Strand Test example to the Arduino. Just a note, plugging a 12volt wall wart into an Arduino, generates a lot of heat, make sure you have a proper cooling solution.
Step 5: EL FIN
To finish your awesome, new, glowing, computer, stick the Arduino into the computer and tidy up the wires within. Have fun with an awesome mini rave when your computer turns on.
Extra notes and links:
Neopixel Guide Link:
note: If a small amount of Neopixels are used they can be powered via USB, however longer strands require higher current draws which a USB port cannot provide, this overdraw lead to brown outs and damage to your computer.
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