Introduction: Heart Shaped Remote Controlled Back-lit Wall Decor

In this DIY home decor gift making tutorial, we'll learn how to make a heart shaped backlit wall hanging panel using plywood board and add various kinds of lighting effects controllable by a remote control and light sensor (LDR) using Arduino. You can watch the final product video or read the written tutorial below for more details.

Step 1: Overview

This project came out of an idea to make something for my wife on her birthday and the inspiration to do this came after googling for various heart-shaped wood decor ideas for the bedroom wall as well as the Philips Hue smart bulb.

Basically, this is a wall hanging decorative item with various lighting modes ranging from very dim to bright light. The lighting modes here are created using different kinds of lights with varying color and luminescence. An IR remote control lets us change the lighting modes.

Another functionality is that it uses a light sensor to detect the darkness level and it turns the lights ON if gets darker in the room and OFF if it gets brighter.

The remote control can also be used to configure default lighting mode for darkness and set the darkness levels that control the automatic switching the lights ON/OFF. Here the objective was to make the system future ready as it's not feasible to reprogram the Arduino hanging somewhere tighly enclosed in the house.

I was also interested to consume this piece of plywood lying in my house since a decade and making something useful out of it. The entire project didn't cost more than $50 and a few days of work.

Step 2: Tools and Materials

The design of the panel for this project required the use of some tools that might not be commonly available in your house. Moreover, your design might not even require such tools. In my case, I needed this. You can easily get all the tools and material from Amazon and your local hardware store.

The following tools and materials were used for making the panel and enclosure:

  • Jigsaw (or coping saw)
  • Jigsaw blade for cutting curves (Bosch T119B)
  • Drill & screw driver (A cordless drill/driver would be handy)
  • Angle Grinder or Sander (Optional)
  • Hot glue gun (Optional)
  • Some Plywood board (or any other board, size depends upon your design)
  • Wood primer & paint
  • Masking tape & brush
  • Marker and few A4 sheets for printing and tracing the design on plywood
  • Some self tapping wood screws 0.5" and 1.5"
  • Measuring tape
  • Wall mounting brackets and fasteners
  • Wood glue

The following tools and components were used for the electrical work:

  • Arduino Uno with USB cable and its power supply
  • Breadboard (small to medium sized is enough)
  • LDR (KG177), 100k Resistor, IR receiver (TSOP1738) and Piezo buzzer (optional)
  • 4 channel 5v relay module
  • 20 x 24 gauge male - female wire connectors for connecting and Arduino with breadboard, relay and sensors
  • Screw Terminal Strip for cable management
  • Some micro-controller standoff spacers and screws
  • 3-5 meters 18 gauge wire for powering electrical components
  • Wire stripper, electrical insulation tape
  • Electrical current tester and multi-meter (optional) for debugging the circuit

Lighting components used for creating the lighting modes

  • 5 x B22 bulb holders that can be mounted on a surface
  • 4 x 0.5W LED bulbs, 2 red and 2 blue
  • 1 x 3W LED bulb with warm light
  • 1 x 2' LED tube light
  • 1 x Flexible LED strip with adapter for the back-lit effect

System requirements

Step 3: Planning the Design of the Front Panel

As a gift for my wife, I chose a heart shaped cutout as a base for the design. However, any design could be made depending upon the available tools and skills. Here is a layout of the design with the dimensions of the front panel and the cutouts.

After finalizing the design, you can mark the outlines on the panel and draw the shapes. I printed out the shapes on paper and placed these onto the panel and then traced it by drilling small holes in the outline of the shapes with the smallest drill bit I had. Finally, a Jigsaw was used to cut out the shapes using the curve cutting blade extension for the Jigsaw. Then the individual pieces were painted using a masking tape to draw the straight lined pattern and the border.

Step 4: Planning the Design of the Enclosure for Components

The following parts are required for enclosing the components behind the front panel:

  • Inner enclosure
  • A removable lid for the inner enclosure (optional)
  • Outer enclosure

An inner enclosure is supposed to hold electronic components, bulbs, LED strip and wires. Basically all we need for the inner enclosure is something that could hold the LED bulbs in place. The electronic components could stick to the rear of the panel, invisible to the viewer. I chose to go with a frame made of 3" wide plywood board, having dimensions such that it covers the entire panel leaving 2" space from the panel border. I then fixed it at the rear of the panel and this was all that was needed for holding the components in place. The LED strip could be wrapped onto this enclosure to give the back-lit effect to the panel. Two holes of 10 mm diameter were made to let the wires pass from the top and bottom. The top hole lets in the main power cable and wires from the relay to the tube light and strip, while the bottom hole lets the wires for IR and LDR sensors to pass as we need these exposed for proper functioning.

A lid of the enclosure was also made of the same plywood, painted white from one side that was supposed to be the inner side. This was required, since the color of the wall it was supposed to be hung wasn't white and a white background helps in reflecting the colors more effectively. If your walls are all white, then you may not need this lid.

Moreover, we were going to hang this item above our bed's headrest, I wanted to hide the visibility of the LED strip to avoid the glare in the eyes. To do this, I created another frame made of 2" plywood board, a little bigger than the previous frame (basically covering the entire panel border) and fixed it to the back just like the previous frame. This wider frame also acts as a base for mounting the LED tube light at the top.

I used both i.e. wood glue and screws for making both the enclosures (frames) and fixing them to the panel. The holes were pre-drilled before screwing the pieces together. The lid of the inner enclosure was left open till the components were assembled and tested thoroughly. Then it was screwed only without the glue.

Step 5: Adding the Circuitry

Before beginning with the circuit assembly, the panel and enclosure were painted properly. I used a combination of white and golden colors. Feel free to use what suits your taste and appeals you the most.

The circuit diagram is provided with this tutorial. You'll also find the photo of the panel with all the electronic components affixed to it at the back. I've made sure that none of these components are visible to the viewer. Screw terminal strips were used for cleanliness and standoffs were used for supporting the components in place. You can refer to the pictures for more details.

The key here is to plan the circuit placement in advance. You may find it helpful to create a trace of the circuit and components route using a marker before starting to laying it out. Moreover, it's also better to have some cable ties or wire clips handy when laying out the wires.

I used a USB power supply for powering the Arduino and glued it to the panel using hot glue and used some screws for ensuring a better hold. For the scope of this project, a USB adapter can handle the power requirements of the components used here. However, if you plan to use more or high power components, it's advisable to use a separate power supply.

Step 6: Coding and Functionality

First of all, it's worth mentioning that the remote library provided by the Arduino IDE didn't work for me so I had to remove it from my IDE and get the library from the link provided above in system requirements section. The code for the project has been attached with this tutorial.

Although it'll be preferable if you go through the code to figure out the entire functionality, I'll outline just a few key points as the summary of the entire code.

As stated earlier, the intended was to make this project maintenance free, due to the fact that it was supposed to be far away from my computer, the support for configuring certain things via remote was added. These configurations use the Arduino EEPROM to save the settings that include:

  • The lighting mode in which the system should light up when darkness is detected
  • The darkness level to turn the lights on (Default is 400)
  • The darkness level to turn the lights off (Default is 800)

A way to soft, hard and factory reset using the remote was also added in order to bring the system to its original state in case of any wrong configurations.

Step 7: Testing and Finishing Off

It's important to test the system once the circuit is set up. We also need to make sure that none of the components are visible from the front. In my case, I had a heart shaped cover for the cutout that required a metal holder screwed to the panel right above the cutout. After this was done and everything looked good, the lid was closed with screws only. I didn't use glue for this as I wanted this to be removable in case of any malfunctioning.

Once the lid was closed, holders were screwed to it for hanging the final product on the wall. I custom built the holders myself, but such holders can be purchased from any hardware store.

Step 8: Final Thoughts

There were some mistakes that could have been avoided to speed up my work. Most of such mistakes were related to the measurement and paint work. These could have only been avoided with practice. As I'm not a professional woodworker or a fabricator, I accept the pace in which I've worked for now. Next time, it'll take a fraction of time it took now.

However, there's a suggestion for anyone who is working with any sort of custom panel fabrication containing electrical and programmable components and that's to keep the future of their product in mind. I used some components like screw terminal strips for easy addition or removal of components, removable heart shape cover for making Arduino's USB port accessible in case any reprogramming needs to be done, didn't use glue to fix the lid of the enclosure, etc. This was all done for accommodating any future changes that could be made to the product.

The smaller heart shaped cut-outs that were not used for this project will be used for making something else.

Wish you have a wonderful experience in making!

Homemade Gifts Contest 2017

Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2017

Arduino Contest 2017

Participated in the
Arduino Contest 2017

Remote Control Contest 2017

Participated in the
Remote Control Contest 2017