DIY Hexagonal Nanoleaf LED Light

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Introduction: DIY Hexagonal Nanoleaf LED Light

About: I am a 25 year old Engineer from germany and like to build all kinds of things.

After seeing the price tag for the Nanoleaf Aurora or similar LED Panels I did some research and decided to create my own version for a much lower price point.

What you are going to need:

  • Access to a 3D Printer
  • 2mm thick semi transparent acrylic
  • WS2812 LEDs (50cm per LED Module)
  • 5V Power Supply (I use 10A for 8 Modules)
  • WeMos D1 mini
  • Cables
  • 4* M4 Countersink screws + nuts for each connection between the modules

Step 1: Preparing for 3D Printing

I used Solidworks to create the 3D model. It is designed in a way to be very slim and close to the wall. For this reason I used slim 5mm LED strips. They are more expensive than the standard 10mm ones, but I prefered the look of the slim panels. If you want to save some money, I also uploaded a version of the frames for the standard 10mm strips.

Also the frame itself is quite slim, but it still hides the side view of the LEDs. On the backside are indentations for cables which also provide more strength for the panels.

To connect the modules with each other I decided to use screws to create a firm connection. There is a connector piece which then screws two pieces together. The connector acts as a little spacer to the wall to allow some airflow for cooling through the holes on the back. With the cutouts in the connector you can hang the assembles module to Nails / Screws in your wall.

The frames can be printed without support. I used a layer height of 0.16mm.

Step 2: Cutting Out the Acrylic Diffusers

I have access to a laser cutter, so I decided to use this machine to cut out the acrylic pieces . This allows very precise cuts and saving some time. If you do no have access to a laser cutter you could also use a hacksaw or similar.

To give it a diffused look but still let enough light through, I used acrylic with a light transmission of 45%. You can use a single A4 sheet of acrylic to cut out two pieces.

Step 3: Testing the Electronics

For the electronics and programming of the WeMos D1 mini you should check out this awesome project on Github:

https://github.com/NimmLor/esp8266-nanoleaf-webser...

It is a very detailed instruction on how to set everything up. It includes all the controls for the lights and also has lots of prebuild light effects. There even is an explanation on how to set it up with Node Red and control it with your Alexa.

Before putting everything together I tried the code with a short test strip from the LEDs. After some tinkering it worked just fine.

Step 4: Assembling All the Parts

One important note first:

The cables you see on the picture from the back were too thin for the amount of LEDs I used. This caused the cables to get quite warm and also it caused a voltage drop over distance. In succession the blue LEDs decreased in brightness, the further they were away. Later on I changed all the cables on the back for much thicker ones. So make sure to use the right thickness for the amount of LEDs you are going to use.

Wiring up all the panels is quite tedious and not as simple as putting together some Nanoleaf Panels, but I think it is worth it.

In my case the acrylic pieces were precisely cut and I cut simply press them into place. Depending on the precision of your pieces you might need to add some glue.

Step 5: Done

I am really happy with how the panels turned out.

They have a nice and even glow and are extremely bright, much brighter than the Nanoleaf Panels (therefore they also draw more power). I use them as a sunrise / wake up light and they do a great job for this task.

The fact that they have spacers on the back and also glow through the frame, makes them look like they are floating and not attached to the wall.

_____

The files are now online

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    29 Comments

    0
    roland.bremb
    roland.bremb

    Question 5 months ago

    Great work on this!

    how thick is the spacer you're using? and is the glow on the backside from the holes or does is really shine through the material?

    0
    roland.bremb
    roland.bremb

    Answer 5 months ago

    also, why did you decide to mount the leds onto the side and not the bottom surface to make them even thinner?

    0
    moderncrafts
    moderncrafts

    Reply 5 months ago

    If you mount the LEDs to the bottom surface, you would need even more LED strips for an even dristribution. This would also require a lot more soldering of individual strips. Also the Panels would actually need to be even thicker, since you would need a much bigger distance to achieve a decent diffusion.

    0
    moderncrafts
    moderncrafts

    Answer 5 months ago

    The spacers are the "Connector+Holder" parts. They move the panels 4mm away from the wall.
    The glow is by the LEDs shining through the frame pieces

    0
    ao.barbre
    ao.barbre

    Question 6 months ago

    Is also a wemos housing for the 5mm panels
    I can only find the 10mm one

    0
    moderncrafts
    moderncrafts

    Answer 5 months ago

    You are right, I am missing one of the wemos housings. However, the version that is uploaded, is the thinner version for the 5mm panels :D
    I am going to upload the thicker version now as well.

    0
    DerMega
    DerMega

    8 months ago

    This project is great. I like the shape and the design of the hexes.
    Have you tested this with 30 leds/m or did u just take the 60 leds/m?
    Have you already reworked the hexes with a bigger cable canal?
    I already printed one testpart and share your opinion that it will be a bit too small.

    0
    DerMega
    DerMega

    Reply 7 months ago

    Ok, for myself I found out that you can use WS2815 with 12V so you dont need thicker cables and no redesign :)

    0
    moderncrafts
    moderncrafts

    Reply 7 months ago

    Thanks! And sorry for the late response, but it seems like you already found a solution :D I just found out about the WS2815 a few weeks ago, and they are definitely a good choice.

    The version I uploaded should already be the updated version with the wider cable canal, which is meant for a pair of 1,5mm² cables - but I am going to check it again.

    I did not try with a lower LED density since I wanted it to be quite bright and have the light as even as possible. If you don't care that much about the brightness, you could also try 30 LEDs/m and maybe use acrylic with a lower light transmission that is better at diffusing the light.

    0
    mthompson239
    mthompson239

    11 months ago

    Sorry if noob question but new to this and would really like to give it a go. Is 1 WeMos D1 required per LED strip or only 1 to control the LED strips as shown in the video? If 1 can be used, is there a limit to how many strips can be connected? Much thanks for sharing!!

    0
    moderncrafts
    moderncrafts

    Reply 11 months ago

    You only need one WeMos D1 mini to control all the LEDs. Compared to "regular" LED strips, which have plus and one channel per color, these adressable LEDs only have plus, minus and a data connection. This allows to control all LEDs individually.

    I think in theory there is no limit to how many LEDs you can control. In praxis the refresh rate will go down at some point. But you should easily be able to control 1000 individual LEDs.

    The limiting factor might be the current draw. These LEDs run on 5V and therefor draw a higher current than regular 12V LEDs. So with a huge amount of LEDs you need a really big power supply and need to feed in the electricity in multiple areas to split the current throughout the LED strips.

    0
    mthompson239
    mthompson239

    Reply 11 months ago

    Much thanks for the detailed reply.

    0
    monkeytown123
    monkeytown123

    Question 1 year ago on Step 4

    first of all the result is truly amazing!!
    i might´ve skipped it while reading but with what thickness of cables did you end up using?

    0
    moderncrafts
    moderncrafts

    Answer 1 year ago

    Thanks!
    I think I didn't mention the thickness of the cables, since this also depends on the LEDs you use and how many panels you use. But you're right, I should mention it for this setup.

    For this setup all LEDs combined can draw up to 50W. Running at 5V equals 10A. So the "main cable" coming from the power supply and connecting all the panels together should be at least 1.0mm² (17 AWG). The wire is then splitted to the individual Panels, so each panel only draws 1/8 of the current. I think for these short pieces to each panel I used 0.35mm² (22 AWG).

    0
    jdobscha07
    jdobscha07

    1 year ago

    Would it be possible to use one of the mega-sized arduinos and add a Wi-Fi module to do the same thing as this (talking about LED control)

    0
    moderncrafts
    moderncrafts

    Reply 1 year ago

    You can also use an Arduino Mega to control addressable LEDs.
    If you want to do the exact same thing as shown here, you would need to make some changes to the code - I don't know how easy the code can be adapted. Also the Arduino Mega + Wifi Module is much bigger than the ESP8266. You can buy an ESP8266 for just 2$ on Aliexpress.

    0
    jdobscha07
    jdobscha07

    Reply 1 year ago

    Okay thanks I'll work to adapt the code I got a ESP8266 off of Amazon for like $4 that I'm going to connect then I'm going to adopt your little holder that you had to hold your smaller control board to hold my mega. Any idea what part of the code I will have to change?

    0
    Fnerg2
    Fnerg2

    Question 1 year ago on Step 2

    I was wondering how you change the formation of the panels once they are put in place, because the acrylic diffuser would stop access to the inside of the panels. also, how did you connect the panels to a power supply or power point. thanks for your help

    0
    moderncrafts
    moderncrafts

    Answer 1 year ago

    In my case the acrylic diffusers are just a pressure fit, so by slightly twisting the frames, the diffusers pop out. Also I never planed for changing the arrangement of the panels - I tested some designs in advance and then just stick with it.
    If you glue in the diffusers: Maybe you could glue in the nuts on the inside. This way you can unscrew the connector-pieces without holding the nuts from the inside. You would also need to route all the cables to the center hole and change the wiring from the back of the panels.

    0
    556duckvader
    556duckvader

    1 year ago

    Would you be willing to share the Wemos holder design file? I would like to incorporate a hold for a barrel jack so you can wire it up and just plug it up.