Introduction: Neopixel Star Wars Starkiller Base Coffee Table
Use the Force.
Did those Rebel bullies trounce your last superweapon? Make a new one, but bigger and better.
After a hard day of intergalactic domination, you want to relax and have a place to put down your cup of coffee. Earl Grey, if that's your bag.
Make this light up coffee table to "demo" your latest creation while entertaining guests.
Step 1: Ground Control...
Oh, did I tell you it is made from cardboard?
You can also try to make these other pieces of cardboard furniture:
For this project you will need corrugated cardboard scavenged from clean empty shipping boxes. Save the planet and recycle.
A globe or some other spherical object to represent the base planet. We had got this globe so long ago at a flea market and has been in storage waiting for the right project to come along. Look, it still has a map of the U.S.S.R. World geography is great to learn on a globe or playing RISK.
For lights I used an Adafruit Flora Arduino to drive a few strips of Adafruit Neopixels LEDs and a Neopixel ring. The strips are remnants of 2 meters of Neopixel 60 Leds/meter density strips that have been sliced and diced for use in many other projects.
Step 2: Bend and Rearrange Space...
Decide on how big you want to build your coffee table.
I picked a size that would fit the placement of my globe and the extended Neopixel strips.
I don't have any pictures of the coffee table by the couch since I only have room for one of those fold up TV snack trays, so there...
A standard coffee table height is 16-18 inches. I don't know what that is in parsecs...or metric...
The coffee table could have turned out like a generic monolithic looking IKEA LACK table but I wanted something with a more organic shape.
Building in cardboard would let me do just that. Of course, building in any other medium such as wood, concrete or metal lets you do that too but cardboard is far easier to handle without major tools and a necessary large workspace.
So I have a peanut shaped table surface, maybe it looks more like a spleen - anyone ever seen one or knows what it does? Since a tripod or three legged base is the most stable, I will try to place three legs equally around the perimeter of the table.
You can make cardboard structures very strong. It is inherently strong as a sheet good since it forms shipping boxes. When several sheets are glued and laminated together, it gets even stronger. If you glue pieces in such a way to mimic I-beams, box beams, tubes or other structural shapes, you can essentially engineer your object able to be used as furniture.
The shape of the coffee table is "roughed" out with pieces of cardboard glued in place.
Build up several layers of cardboard by gluing all the surfaces and adjoining edges together. You will get a feel for when the layers get thick enough to resist bending. Try to alternate the direction that the internal corrugation of the cardboard runs to give it extra strength. You can use small pieces to fill up the inner layers. Use scrap pieces to fill in gaps to make a level gluing surface. Try to cover each seam with a single piece of cardboard.
The rim of the table was built by gluing on a vertical sidewall. The inside banding are pieces of cardboard glued at an angle so that a hollow channel is formed along the sides. When laminated with sufficient cardboard layers, you have a very strong rim around the table
The same design is given to the table legs. V shaped legs flow out from the table top. Each table leg has triangular beams for the edges. An additional structural reinforcement is made on the inside tabletop area of the leg to keep the leg sturdy. .
Glue pieces of cardboard as necessary to have the surfaces flow into one another.
Step 3: Galaxy Art...
Cover all the raw edges with papier mache.
Tear uncoated newspapers into strips and then into smaller pieces. Dip in a 50/50 glue/water solution and apply to overlap each piece and cover the object. Repeat as necessary to layer up thin areas in order to smooth out the finished surface.
When completely dry, you can prime and paint. I used an acrylic matte black as my base color.
To get the starfield effect of the billions and billions of stars, lightly dip the tip of a brush into a tiny bit of white paint. You can then use your finger to flick off paint droplets from the the brush. Be careful where you spray... Randomly move across your painted area. You can build up planet density or make galaxy swirls by repeating the process in a more concentrated area. You can also layer first with random daubs of color to give the appearance of cloudy gaseous nebulae. Hey, space is curved...
Step 4: Frickin' Lasers...
Sorry, last time I used lasers was here.
From my previous ible, I had my Adafruit Flora arduino board wired up with Neopixel strip, Neopixel ring and two Neopixels.
I wanted to add 3 longer Neopixel strips I had lying around.
Since I wanted the lighting effect to run in sync on all the long Neopixel strips, I wired them all to a single data pin. Then things got wonky. The Flora could not maintain a COM port connection to the PC for programming with the strips attached. The sensitive timiing and signal levels were probably unstable with 4 or 5 strips. I cut out the smaller strip and even cut the smaller strip in half to see if it would work.
I got the setup programmed with the basic light animation. The ring and the two planet lights worked perfectly all the time. I got three strips to sporadically light up correctly.
I then tried to mount the setup in the coffee table.
It seems soldered connections to the flexible Neopixel strips are still very fragile even with a lot of strain relief built in. The whole setup was bent and flexed to fit which caused soldered joints to delaminate and even a Neopixel went bad from delaminating off the strip. When the strips did not light up, a lot of time was spent going back to the taped up solder joints, removing tape, inspecting, resoldering and retesting. I gave up on one long strip when I couldn't determine if it was one of the first three Neopixels had failed causing the entire strip to not light up.
I thought my AAA battery pack did not have enough power to light all the Neopixels. I changed out for a fresh set of cells but still the hanging of the multiple strips wired up in parallel. I then switched to a phone charger USB battery pack which did not seem to solve the problem.
So in the end, only two long strips worked and the lesson is only split out a data pin for a few Neopixels, otherwise recode another object and use a different pin. Don't get lazy.
The animation of the lights is based on code from the Strandtest diagnostic sketch for Neopixels. Nothing too complex here, color wipe and theater chase.
So there you have it. Starkiller Base which can be the jumpoff point for a whole lot more features and experimentation.
Make yours today!