Introduction: Frank's Lamp

Frank's lamp is an ambient light source from which it's form informs how much brightness will be omitted, the switch comes in the form of a reflective component that is spun up and down an acme rod centred from the base of the lamp. The reflective component in relation to the the rod dictates the lights brightness (Like a jar of light, the further away the lid is from the base, the more light is omitted as a result).

Using 3D printing, Laser Cutting & an Arduino Mini-controller, this lamp's intended purpose is to interact with the user through the intangibleness of the motion sensor & the tangible reflective switch to create a tactile and and rich experience. Frank's lamp is an open source project encouraging anybody to take this design and it's core elements to then dismantle, distort, iterate and recreate how they see their version could come to light.

We took a lot of inspiration from
- We extrapolated the code and dismantled it to fit the requirements specifically for our design, which was incredibly helpful as our group learnt to code Arduino on the fly with this project (which means you can too!).

The project was part of a Massey University, Industrial Design paper at the Wellington Fab Lab in New Zealand.
Designed by Shawnee D Eath, Courtney Martin, Alpert Menyoza Mendoza & Jack Stevens.

Feel free to follow our process in the link below:

Ingredient List:

2.1mm DC jack
9v Battery
9x 3000k (Warm White) LEDs
9x 330 ohms Resisters
HC-SR04 Ultrasonic Sensor
Arduino UNO + USB Cable
Electrical Circuit Wire

4x 6mm MDF (approx 600x450mm)
1x 3mm Transparent Acrylic (approx 600x450mm)

2x 3g Super Glue
Paint+Primer Matt Black Spray Paint


Laser Cutter
3D Printer
Soldering Iron
Sanding Equipment


Step 1: Electronics

Begin by installing the Arduino IDE
Proceed to Copy + Paste the code provided and upload into the Arduino Uno.

Whilst the Arduino is connected to your device via the USB cable Using a breadboard, prototype the sensor, the LEDs (+ the resistors) and the Arduino. Do this to ensure that no components are faulty prior to soldering.

Solder circuit together - incorporating enough wire for the circuit to be spread around approximately a 180mm diameter circle to ensure that the LED's will meet their designated spaces within the lid of the base. Note: Apply electrical tape to exposed solder/wire to ensure that wires don't make contact when moved around, in case this causes a short circuit. Be sure to rigorously test the electronics in this stage!

Step 2: Laser Cutting

Begin by Laser Cutting the base and stacking the individual slices in preparation to be glue, be sure to seperate the wider base layers from the smaller circles (the rod holder) as these layers will be glued and assembled separately - I have displayed a screenshot of these smaller cuts that you will find in the base print pdf.

Laser cut the lid but do not glue together until you have prepared the acrylic cuts, as these acrylic pieces will help give you a reference to the exact position for the top layer of the lids position to be glued.

Once the 6mm MDF has been cut, customise laser printer settings fit for the 3mm acrylic and proceed to cut out the two LED ring covers (remember, you can use a 6mm acrylic sheet - but to reduce costs we used 2x 3mm and layered them).

For the reflective layer that is glued on the under surface of the reflective component, we simply cut (with scissors) some thin reflective mirror film and hole stamped a 28mm hole for the rod clearance.

- however this material can be chosen in preference to the light qualities you want achieved, for example a matt white will diffuse the light whereas laser cutting a mirrored acrylic may provided a stronger reflection.

Step 3: 3D Prints

Download Files Attached. Print via 3D printer.
Allow both components to cool fully, once cooled carefully deconstruct the acme rods interior scaffolding with a set of small pliers & sand the nut's interior down to ensure less surface friction when using the reflective component on the acme rod.
Note that the more these two components are used with one another and the MDF cut out is attached to add weight to the reflector component, the friction drops dramatically.

Step 4: Sanding, Glueing & Painting


Begin to glue the base and the rod attachment piece for the base separately (Rod attachment piece is made up of the smaller laser cut discs displayed in the seperate image attached).
Sand down the exterior of the base until the desired finish is met. Spray paint in thin coats.


Glue the lid layers together using your fingers to perfectly align the layers ensuring that the sensor can be inserted in it's designed clearance snuggly. Spray paint three thin layers over the lid - again, note the light application of spray paint as this changes the tolerance allowance for fitting the components together.
Place the lid over the base.

- With the Lid locked into the base, the rod attachment can then be super glued from it's bottom surface and fitted in the designated space provided through the lid (Apply paint to the rod attachment before glueing down to the base plate). This reduces any possible chance of alignment mistakes when hand glueing the components.

Reflective Component:

Take the 3D printed nut component and the MDF leaf and super glue together.
Note - if you would like to retain the 3D printed components plastic colour, spray paint the MDF leaf alone prior to glueing.


Once the rod is clear of any rough scaffolding from the print and roughly brushed down with sand paper to reduce friction, apply three coats of spray paint and allow to dry before assembling into the base attachment and fitting of the reflective component.
Note: We managed to stretch one single can of Paint+Primer black spray paint over all of the materials by applying thin and consistent coats of paint.

Step 5: Assembly

Once each component is polished and finished, place the LEDs in the designated MDF slice , we used thin pieces of tape to ensure that the LEDs sat flush but you may want to test tolerances so that tape would be required for your particular LEDs .

Continue to layer the components as seen in the photo display and lower reflecting component to turn the LED circuit off, spin the reflector up the rod to to turn on an increase brightness of the lights.

Enjoy your new light source!


Shawnee, Courtney, Alpert & Jack