Introduction: Interactive LED Table

Here is a guided instructable on how to make your own Interactive LED table using one of the kits from Evil Mad Sciencitst.
Here is a video of my final table in action in the dark, and a photo of what it looks like:

Step 1: Choose Your Size, and Design a Table

Evil Mad Scientist offer 2 sizes for their table, a 6 panel kit and an 8 panel kit. Both of them can be configured in 3 different ways, so before you can start designing your table, you should choose which size you want to buy.

I choose the 6 panel kit, and this instructable will focus on that size. If you choose the 8 panel kit, you can still use this guide, just remember to change the measurements to your own.

Next make a rough sketch of how you want your table to look.

If you are good with Google Sketchup, I suggest you use that to get some nice 3-D views of it.

Step 2: Buy the Lumber

After you've made your design, and measured out all the materials you need, time to take a trip (or two as in most cases with DIY, stuff), to Home Depot/Lowes, to get the wood.

I choose regular 1x4 pieces of pine for the legs, and 1x3 pieces for the tray to hold the LEDs.

Step 3: Put the Legs Together

Lay out the wood on the floor (or table), and make the marks for cuts. Cut them (use a miter saw, much, much more accurate then by hand), be sure to choose the nicer side of the wood for the top* (if you're staining it, if painting, it doesn't matter).

I'm doubling up the wood so that it looks better, that requires lots of cuts, and screws. Pre-drill the holes, and counter-sink the screws so that you don't see them.

Step 4: Fill in the Holes

After the legs are built, you should fill in the cracks and screw holes with wood filler.

I also used ran a router with a 1/4 inch half circle bit around the edges to smooth them off, and make them look nicer.

Then sand it, and repeat it until it is smooth enough for you (it is after all, your table).

Step 5: Stain & Polyurethane (or Paint) the Legs

I choose Minwax Cherry 235Minwax Cherry 235 for the stain color, and Minwax PolyurethaneMinwax Polyurethane] for the finish on my table, you can choose whatever you want/

I also put 3 coats of stain, and 2 coats of polyurethane on them so that it would look good.

Step 6: Build the Tray to Hold the LEDs

The tray is a very important part of the build process.

The LEDs and circuit board must be rigidly attached to something, and that's where the tray comes in.
You can make the tray any size you want (as long as it's bigger then the minimum size you're boards can fit in). Mine is 46x31 inches

I decided to use a 1/8in peice of MDF in a tray of 1x3 pine. 1/2 inch from the bottom of the 1x3's we made a 1/8 diameter groove to slide the MDF in.

Originally, i wanted to have the ends connected via tongue and groove notches and glue, but, we didn't have the correct tools (even though we tried our best to make them), so i just opted to screw the ends together, it works just the same, and looks just as good (most people will be looking at the top anyway!)

Step 7: Cross Braces

without them, the table will just fall apart

(well,not really, but they add alot of stability)

put both sets of legs on top of each other, and and tray on top of that, take the wood you're using for the cross brace, and measure it out, mark it, and cut (it helps to have 2 or more people for this part).

Sand the edges to make it alittle nicer looking, and you're done.

Step 8: Get the Kit Parts Together

Now comes the most exciting part, making the individual boards that contain the LEDs, and all that fun stuff.

All this stuff is included in the kit from Evil Mad Scientist, depending on the size of the kit, and other options (PCB color, LED color(s), your items may differ).

It will help to get a good soldering iron, and some replacement tips. As for the 1lb of solder, its the smallest size they sold online, and no, i did not use all of it.

Step 9: Solider Lots of LEDs, and Resistors In

The kits come with very detailed instructions on how to put in the resistors, capacitors, LEDs, and microchips. It's a very simple, if not long process.

The most time consuming process is matching the LEDs, that took me about an hour per board. But after some communication with the guys over at EMS, i learned that i was just being way to ocd about it, and really should only take a minute or two per set. (that should be reflected in the newest instructions sent with the kits i've been told).

Step 10: Repeat Step 9 Five (or Seven) More Times

Repeat step 9 five more times if you have the 6 panel kit, or seven more times if the 8 panel kit.

You definitely want to test each panel as you finish them, this way you can be sure they all work.

Here is a video of the 5 panels connected together

Step 11: Attach Legs to the Tray

Now, this step could have been done up by step 7, but chances are you will be making this table way before you get all the electronic peices, (current waiting list is mid January 2008). So we made each part, and kept them on the side until the it was time to put it all together.

This is where I made a slight modification to my table design. Originally, I had the legs bolted to the outside of the tray, but after getting the opinions of my friends, I found out that that isn't exactly the best looking solution.

Finally, I decided that because there was 2.25 extra inches on the inside of the tray, I would cut one part of the legs off, to insert behind it. (the picture describes it better)

Step 12: Put the PCBs Into the Tray

Take apart the tested panels, and begin positioning them inside the tray (Note, they should only be able to fit one way if you made the tray the correct size).

Be sure to decide where you want the switch, and power plug to be located, so you can drill an access hole for those before you install that board.

The PDBs come with 3/4 long 6-32 standoffs to give clearance. The 3/4 inches wasn't enough to get over the bolts for the legs, so we used 1.5 inch screws with nuts keeping them from moving down.

(note, the closer you get to the sensors, the brighter the effect is, so that's another advantage to moving them up a further 3/4 of an inch)

Step 13: Put the Glass On

We put 1/4 inch wide black speaker gasket around the top of the try to prevent the glass from slipping around. It gives the table a nice finished look to it i think.

Step 14: You're Done, Time to Play!

That's it, you're finished!
After all that hard work, you should have a very nice, very fun, very awesome interactive LED table. Be sure to invite all your friends over to see it, they will love it.

Here's a video of what mine looks like in the dark:

Here's a link to many many more photos

Good luck on your table!

Total cost for this table: around $650, the most expensive part being the kit from EMS. Considering you can buy pre-made tables for up to $2200, I'd say it's totally worth doing it yourself!