Introduction: The Bytelight

Picture of The Bytelight
Make a high-tech mood light from a flourescent lamp and a bunch of old memory chips.
Thanks go to Ross Orr for the original article in

Step 1: What You Need...

Picture of What You Need...

1. Some old memory chips. However many you use will determine the size of the Bytelight you build. I used 3 rows of 21, 256K 30 pin SIMMS that I bought as a bulk lot on Ebay.

2. A piece of plexiglass or Lexan. Mine was 12" X 12"

3. Plywood or other wood about 1/2" thick

4. Sheet metal. I used some galvanized sheet metal. Anything reflective will work. You could probably get away with using aluminum foil.

5. Glue. You can use any glue that will work with wood, metal and plastic.

6. Light fixture, lamp cord and flourescent bulb. Any home improvement store will have these or just salvage them from an old garage sale lamp.

7. Assorted screws.

Step 2: Build the Cover

Picture of Build the Cover

Start laying out the ram on the plexiglass. You want to leave about 3/4" around the edge of the plexiglass because it makes for a better looking final product but the choice is yours.
Then start gluing the ram down on the plexiglass, chip side down. Keep everything nice and straight. Your patience here will determine how the Bytelight ends up looking.

Step 3: Build the Light Box

Picture of Build the Light Box

The light box will consist of 4 sides for the frame and a back cover that will hold the light fixture. Carefully measure out the dimensions of your plexiglass and cut the 4 side pieces to fit just to the edge of your glued on RAM. I made the box frame 4" deep to make sure there was plenty of room for the flourescent light bulb. I used corner brackets to hold the frame together and then painted it flat black. The back cover should be measured out and cut after you have assembled the box frame.

Step 4: Build the Back Cover

Picture of Build the Back Cover

Cut out a piece of the shiny material you will be using and glue it to the back cover. Then attach the light fixture centered over the inside cover. I also drilled one hole towards the top of the back cover for mounting.

Step 5: Final Box Steps

Picture of Final Box Steps

Lay the back cover over the box frame and drill some pilot holes in each corner. This is always a good idea to prevent the wood from splitting. Drill one more hole at the bottom of the box frame and run your lamp cord. Test out the lamp.

Step 6: Finish It Up and Fire It Up!

Picture of Finish It Up and Fire It Up!

Attach the RAM cover to the box by drilling 4 pilot holes and screwing it in. I used some small rubber bushings to create a tiny gap between the plexiglass and the frame to allow for venting. Turn off the lights and turn on the Bytelight! This is a great conversation piece and high-tech mood light! I hope you enjoyed this Instructable.


GenAap (author)2011-04-15

I love the name!

geekdude (author)2009-09-21

it seems to me that you would get more light out of the thing if you desoldered the chips. than again that would take a long time, mabye if you used a blowtorch? i wonder if old motherboards are semi transparent.

albylovesscience (author)2009-08-15


dark sponge (author)2009-01-17

Sometime in the future, when people have computers with petabytes of memory, they might do this with old terrabyte memory chips. Strange thing to think about...

hurtzmyhead (author)dark sponge2009-01-18

yes, something, flammable, mold-able, drillable, or just all around cool-able

dark sponge (author)hurtzmyhead2009-01-19

Flammable? Why would anyone want a computer with flammable RAM?

Your computer would have a real firewall! XD

Kasm279 (author)dark sponge2009-04-08

lol, a firewall XD

hurtzmyhead (author)Kasm2792009-04-08

exactly :) built in

TheDeviant13 (author)hurtzmyhead2009-05-15

and it would be hardware now what does this button do after pushing button "Do you smell smoke coming from the computer" "Well do you see the fact you computer is on fire" "Go grab the fire extinguish you let me talk you out of buying" "Call 911"

wolf555hound (author)dark sponge2009-01-18

our terebytes will be their bytes.

ax89 (author)wolf555hound2009-01-22

All your terabytes are belong to us. :) (Apologies to all bases...)

micromuffin (author)dark sponge2009-01-19

People already have computers with petabytes of RAM...

dark sponge (author)micromuffin2009-01-19

Who? Not anyone I know...

santy22 (author)dark sponge2009-01-18

also, think how will the Terabyte chips made, or from what? please make them of something that is hackeable

TheDeviant13 (author)2009-05-15

16 minutes

russ_hensel (author)2009-01-22

You have neglected to say how fast the memory has to be. Is faster brighter, or the other way around?

Koolraap (author)russ_hensel2009-01-27

is has to have at least 2 MB of fastness per chip, unless you are using more that 73 chips, than they have to be at least 3 MB of fastness

ste5442 (author)Koolraap2009-02-02

Does it remember when you last turned the lights on, or do you need more memory for that ;-)

PCBPolice Electronics Forum

Yerboogieman (author)ste54422009-04-09

Actually it is RAM (Random Access Memory) so it forgets everytime. ;-)

Koolraap (author)ste54422009-02-05

depend whether your chips have the millenium bug, if more than 49% have the milennium bug I only remembers when the last time was you turned it off

jessiminica (author)Koolraap2009-03-01

Is it sad that it took me until your post about millennium bugs to be sure you were joking? :p

Koolraap (author)jessiminica2009-03-01

only if you don't have the millennium bug :P

macemaster0426 (author)2009-03-12

If you put an LED that you could minipulate the color of it would be more of a "mood light" don't u think?

DIY Dave (author)2009-02-23


mbudde (author)2009-02-13

No problem.

mbudde (author)2009-02-12

Go into the iTunes store. In the little search bar, type in Make, scroll down to the podcast section, click on Make, and in the next screen, there should be a button kind of towards the middle that says subscribe, and click on it. ITunes will start downloading it, and then you just have to wait for it to finish. It will automatically download new ones.

geeklord (author)2009-02-09

Funny, i was looking at the Arduino All-in-One Getting Started Guide and in the little thing that pops up in the YouTube player that shows you all the related videos, this came up! I might make a miniature version of this with some LED's and a few chips.

comodore (author)2009-01-17

Great job! As always... :D What is your favorite auction house?

comodore (author)ste54422009-02-03

The question was for Kip Kay, but..never mind... :D

cantthinkof bettername (author)2009-01-17

It wold be cool to make a whole computer into a wall mounted light, and have it still work.

Nice idea but the internal planes within the PCB would block the light through it :-(

PCBPolice Electronics Forum

harari (author)2009-02-01

i tried doing this with some SDRAMs but they have so much copper in more than one layer that there's no light going through. :( looks like a cool project anyway... well done !

VagsmaCutter (author)2009-01-24

I think I'm gonna do this, but I'm going to take this spinning mirror thing I got out of a scanner/printer and use a green laser for the light and use the magnifying plexi from a rear screen projection tv instead of just plain plexi. I think it might help my baby brother get to sleep faster, if he stared at it.

chrisayad (author)2009-01-23

i hope you dont get cancer

paulpcc (author)2009-01-22

thats pretty good :) i keep holding on to old chips and cpus and drives after seeing someone hook up 100+ usb devices and motherboards and other bits of pc equipment to make a network of 1 actual computer with an operating system of some kind using all parts... but i lost the link so i might just go ahead and make a bytelight :)

cflowers (author)2009-01-20

Another great hack, Kipkay! I had to feature this one on The Daily Hack. Keep on hacking, modding, and building brother! :-)

Charlie Flowers

0xCyrusx0 (author)2009-01-19

Great idea! I happen to have access to a large amount of DDR-1 RAM which is probably going to be junked soon (School, our computer construction class finally got something better than pentium III and Celerons to take apart). I'll probably end up making a much smaller version, say a tall rectangle with a heavy wood base using about 2 sticks per side.

noj4888 (author)2009-01-17

What is your favorite auction site?

JellyWoo (author)noj48882009-01-18

yeah, what is it?

micromuffin (author)JellyWoo2009-01-19

Yeah, what is it?

dark sponge (author)micromuffin2009-01-19

Yeah, what is it?

tipsychimp (author)dark sponge2009-01-19

Yeah, what is it?

jokerlz (author)tipsychimp2009-01-19

Cough Ebay..cough ahem who said that? hmm was that a sound? I didn't hear anything!

dark sponge (author)jokerlz2009-01-19




noj4888 (author)dark sponge2009-01-19

Maybe ebay, but I like liquidation but I'm near one.

A good name (author)2009-01-16

Aw I was hoping it would change colour :( Pretty cool anyways.

that could be done. use colour hanging leds, or one specially made one inside a light bulb that can be found here

or colored flourecent lights, get em at home depot...

also you can use the membranes from old keyboards and make this happen a lot faster (the peices are bigger so you need to put less of them on the window. also note the sheets that actually make the keys work are clear circuit boards so they would be cool too and are clear so a color changing system of LEDs would give that effect tottally instead of impeding the color like ram chips do as most are green or red.

About This Instructable




Bio: Tinkerer, hackster and prankster. Hit me up on Facebook: Thanks for checking out my Instructables!
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