Introduction: Moon Phase Lamp

Picture of Moon Phase Lamp

Whether you are learning about astronomy, or you just like to keep track of the next werewolf cycle, this moon phase lamp is for you!

Here is what you will need for this build:

  • A spare USB cable that you can use to power your lamp
  • Adafruit Gemma microcontroller
  • 12 Neopixel LED ring
  • Generous amounts of hot glue
  • 3D printed files
  • Basic soldering tools and wire

This was a quick and rewarding build. Not only can it beautifully display the moon's phases, but with a little programming you could also use it to keep track of the moon phases in real time. And when nobody is watching you can put it into party mode and dance to your hearts content.

Step 1: 3D Print the Parts

Picture of 3D Print the Parts

The Moon Phase Lamp is made up of 3 main parts. The first thing you will want to do is print the two halves of the moon. It takes a while, so sit back and relax. I found I had good results printing it in white ABS with no supports. I printed it with 4 shells (Layers) to keep it transparent, but thick enough to hold it's shape.

The divider in the middle divides the light into 12 parts. It is also designed to work perfectly with the 12 LED Neopixel light ring. If I were to do this again I would print it with black filament to better separate the light between phases. I found that white bleeds light to the other sections quite a bit. I had a bit of trouble printing this part because it was so thin. You can see that I had a lot a warping during a moment that I opened the door and the model cooled off.

Step 2: Connect the Micro-controller and the Lights

Picture of Connect the Micro-controller and the Lights

Following the schematic you will find that it's pretty easy to wire the moon lamp. I also connected the USB cable to the battery terminals due to space constraints, but you could simply plug it into the micro USB port if you wish, and that will also allow you to upload different sketches without taking anything apart. Just plug it into your computer and it's off to the races!

Whatever you decide to just just don't forget to feed the cord through the top moon half or you will have a hard time putting it together later.

Step 3: Program the Micro-controller and Test the Lights

Picture of Program the Micro-controller and Test the Lights

Now it's time to load the code onto the Arduino compatible Gemma micro-controller. I have included a simple code, but you could do much more with this lamp.

I had a bit of trouble getting my computer to recognize the Gemma, but I followed the instructions on Adafruit and installed the drivers for it on my computer. I also used a USB hub which helps the computer recognize the Gemma micro controller, and with that I was able to load the code onto the Gemma.

Shortly after the lights started up as expected!

Step 4: Put It All Together With Some Hot Glue

Picture of Put It All Together With Some Hot Glue

Now comes the fun part. I really enjoyed seeing all the parts come together and fitting so neatly. Place the light divider inside of the bottom half of the lamp. Now set the electronics into place. You will notice that there is a ring that holds everything in place. Make sure to align the LEDs so that one fits between each divider.

Once the electronics are in place add a dab of glue to hold it in place. Then support the board as you feed the top half through the cord. Add some hot glue around the edges of the moon halves and carefully put them together.

I found that using a heat gun or a blow dryer I was able to adjust the alignment if the glue set before I had it just right.

Step 5: Plug It in and Prepare to Be Mezmorized!

Picture of Plug It in and Prepare to Be Mezmorized!

Congratulations if you have made it this far you now have a moon phase lamp. It's a lot of fun to play with, and it looks great just hanging around. If you make one please let me know how it goes. Leave a picture in the comments and let me know if you have any questions.

Also, if you liked my instructable (It's my first one ever!) please vote for me in the lights contest!


ThirdEarthDesign (author)2017-08-31

Excellent work, I really like this. I'm going to make this and use it in my Witching Halloween window display. Thanks for sharing, I will add some photos when done :-)

ThirdEarthDesign made it! (author)ThirdEarthDesign2017-09-08

I got round to making mine, I'm pretty pleased with it. Will look great as part of my Halloween display this year.

I made a few tweaks/changes... I lined the internal fins with foil and it seemed to work out quite well. I also managed to use a cable with an angled Micro-USB plug to connect to the USB port so I can power it and re-program it easily. I also modified the code to fade in and out of transitions.

porgo0 (author)2017-06-07

Good, good, good, WEREWOLF, good, good

bpikeuiuc (author)2017-05-12

Great idea - so excited about building it. However, I tried and am having issues repeating it.

Has anybody else tried to build this? I tried to open the moon files and they were huge on my software. When I just shrink them, the wall thickness shrinks too. I'm wondering if it is a software issue of mine or wider spread.

Thanks for pointing that out. I just uploaded the correct models resized for the project!

NathanR124 (author)2017-05-10

To: All contestants from Microcontroller Contest 2017

From: Nathan124

I find it ironic that the other two who won the grand prizes and all the others in the microcontroller contest had a huge laundry list of instructions but your instructable is so simple yet effective(I guess judges don't like reading too many instructions for every step). I salute you to that, and you have taught me and many others that simplicity overrules detail in any contest on Instructables.

===If anybody else reads this, please understand that everyone loves simplicity. Just do it or else you'll be wasting your time to impress the reader!====

Anyway, great job and thank you so much for guiding us, but mostly me, ModernInventor! :)

Image result for be calm and stay simple


jessyratfink (author)2017-05-04

This is beautiful! What a great design. :)

Huge fan of your work. Especially the leather tutorials! Thanks for the kinds words.

vikinggoat (author)2017-05-04

I'm wondering if shaving off a crescent from each divider fin (widest point toward the middle, tips toward each pole) decrease the stark transition line, or just ruin the effect all together?

You could space the fins further from the moon surface and it would soften the transition. (It works I tried it.) I was actually going for a harder transition, but even then it was softened by the semi transparent fins. I may try a darker filament next time.

Cris DIY (author)2017-05-04

What a fantastic idea! Congrats! So nice... :D Voted!

Thanks for the kind words Cris. Stay tuned for more projects like this in the near future!

framakers (author)2017-05-06

Really cool idea, good instructable with lot's of pictures, and the moon has a moonlike surface (with craters). I've voted for you.

Thanks for your vote! I hope to document a number of projects that I am currently working on, and comments like yours really help motivate me to do so. Thanks again:)

Krienert (author)2017-05-04

Stellar Instructable!

Makes me wish I had a 3d-printer...

Wonder if you could rotate the hemisphere seam 90 degrees from horizontal to be longitudinal. Then it might parallel one of the internal phase dividers to make it a bit more discreete.

Krenert, I am actually working on a version printed from one solid piece. Unfortunately my slicing software has not been able to correctly slice the model since it uses a mix of meshes, and solid modeled parts. I hope to complete this in the future!

framakers (author)Krienert2017-05-06

There is a way to 3D print without owning one: there are "fablab"s around the world: places where people share expensive machines such as 3Dprinters (and lasercutters and more cool machines). In a not commercial way, making it as affordable as possible :-).

Here you can find out if there is one near you:

greenbriel (author)Krienert2017-05-04

Take a look at the Monoprice Mini Select. Best $200 I've spent in a good long while, and they just updated it. Unbeatable quality/cost ratio.

diy_bloke (author)2017-05-06

Very nice project, especially the lamp part. That could easily be an 'output' for an ESP8266 that picks the moonphase off of say weatherunderground and then lets the properphase light up real time

prnet (author)2017-05-05

Very smart idea and implementation! Good job!

efoster6 (author)2017-05-04

Looks great but would you be able to do this with just a half sphere and a very slow dc motor driving it to give a smoother flow of moon phases

THE ONLY DRAGONKING (author)2017-05-04


DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2017-04-23

This would make an awesome night light for a kid's room.

Except on a 'new moon' phase! My kids would be wondering where the light was! :)

So for educational purposes and astronomical accuracy, it shouldn't shut off, but should always be half-lit. For new moon, the back half that we can't directly see would still be on.

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