Introduction: RGB Lamp With HD Dock Station

About: Software developer with hobby for DIY ;)

Before starting with anything I'd just like to let you know I'm not a woodworker nor an electronic expert, I'm just a software developer with some hobby, so maybe my workflow is not the best nor the safer or most correct one, so... be kind with me :p

Some time ago (few years actually) I've salvaged the scanner lamp of an old "all-in-one" printer and found some instruction around the web to turn it into an RGB mood lamp using a simple Attiny85 (Attiny45 is the one I actually used).

The lamp works well but I've always leaved it as it was and never converted it to a proper lamp, so I've decided to do it now. Also I've decided to use a USB 3 SATA driver board salvaged from an old USB3 enclosure and put it inside the base of the lamp to turn it into an HD docking station as well.

The lamp, apart the few electronic components, is entirely made of wood and I've used no big power tools (just a drill and a small sander) to work on it so it was also a good exercise for me on woodworking (even not having a proper place where to work).


  • Wood
  • Scanner lamp
  • Attiny85 or Attiny45
  • Switch button
  • 3x 200ohm resistors
  • Old USB cable (can be even without data transfer lines)
  • USB 3 SATA driver board (if you want to add the HD dock slot)
  • Polypropylene sheet (to put in front of the lamp to glow the light result)
  • Straw oil (for finishing the wood surface at the end and enhance the wood beauty)


  • Drill or screwdriver with drill capability too
  • Wood saw (different types used on the need)
  • Chisel or file (to clean and rectify the cuts)
  • Plane (to rectify edges and cuts, not strictly necessary)
  • Sander (to refine the edges and straight some cuts, not strictly necessary)
  • Sand paper
  • Ruler
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps
  • Hot glue gun
  • Soldering Iron

Step 1: Salvage and Build the Lamp Circuit

I won't loose to much time on this step as it is something I've done few years ago but you can find many instructables and examples around the web on how to do it. A good example for the circuit can be found here:

It is the same I used, I just connected the outputs of the attiny to the lamp instead of the RGB leds and use a USB cable to provide 5V power from from any USB port.

The result is the one in the images, please note I will replace the switch button later on when I will be adding the proper switch to the wood lamp.

Step 2: Design the Lamp

For this step I've used SketchUp from Google to design my lamp. You don't need to do it and nor to do it with SketchUp, but I strongly suggest to do it as you can face some design issues or decide the proper way to go before cutting the pieces and avoid wrong or problematic situations later on.

As many woodworkers suggest: "measure twice and cut once" and planning first help to do this.

Attached you can find my SketchUp design and few renders extracted from it (mind that some of them could be "outdated" :p ). Obviously you can try your own design.

Step 3: Cut the Lamp (might Not Necessary on a Bigger Design)

One of the problems I faced when I started to think about how to design my lamp and how and where to place the scanner lamp I realized that lots of the plastic around it was useless and taking a lot of space so I decided to carefully cut it out using a manual saw to turn it down to a smaller and more flat style (see the image for better idea on what I've done). Please be careful in cutting the plastic to avoid accidentally cutting the circuit and or bend too much the lamp ending in breaking the very fragile inner lamp.

Also I've decided to not try to extract the inner thin lamp as I've got one try the first time (with another spare printer) and it simply got destroyed trying to do it, in case hope you are luckier than me.

This step is obviously required only if you want to maintain a small design and can be even skipped.

Step 4: The USB Disk Drive Board

This step is more to show what I've used and give some suggestions. It can also be skipped in case you are not planning to add the disk docking slot in the lamp.

I admit I've been very lucky to find in one of my old external disk cases this tiny and efficient USB3 driver board that fits perfectly into my design as it is compact and as shown in one of the photo it has the same height of the disk. This means that I can use one of the woods pieces as base where to make the disk slide directly to the SATA attachment, also it is as high as the disk and it makes it easy to fit it in the same space given to the disk without having to carve any special slot to make it stay in place which is a great benefit, so take care if you have the chance to look wisely to all your available options and took the one that fit the best your needs.

Step 5: Mark and Cut

As I was saying at the beginning no big power tools has been used apart the sander and the screwdriver drill. So all the cuts was made by hand and required some time and tricks to achieve the best result.

First though a mention about the wood pieces. Since again no big power tools are used (like a bench saw or an electric jigsaw) the best results would come buying wood pieces that has the sides already well cut to 90°, this will spare a lots of issues mainly with the measures and the cuts.

I used a good ruler (even a "semi-professional" one does not costs a lot so it worth the expense) and a good angle ruler that helps me to make straight lines across the wood as it can lean to one straight cut side of the wood resulting in a proper 90° line, using a simple straight ruler instead, you can eventually slightly move and then risk to be less precise, but it is not a must to have it anyway.

Also the angle ruler helps during the cuts as shown in the images. I've locked it in place with a clamp and used it to make a clean straight cut, at least much more straight than it without have been otherwise. You can also use the linear ruler for longer cuts in case the angle one won't be long enough, but in this case you need to make some safety measures before. Also I suggest to mark the cutting line anyway as it is always helping in the process and remember to count the size of the blade in the equation as even the thinner still get some millimeters and if you don't count it you might end up with wrong sizes (like for example if the blade is 2-3 mm wide you might risk to have up to 4-6 mm difference in size for example when cutting a hole or similar on the wood piece).

Another suggestion I can give is about measuring and marking the HD slot. I've personally took the wood piece that would have been cut and placed the HD attached to the driver board on top of it trying to put it on the spot previously planned, checked if it works, eventually amended the location and then used a thin marker to go around the disk, the driver board and also the connected cable to have the proper shape of what I was about to cut.

Another suggestion when you need to cut for example a hole in the wood is to use the drill to make holes in the corners (inner side of the cut) of the hole to cut to help passing the blade of a manual jigsaw and then proceed with the cut.

Once the pieces are cut, you can align them using the more straight sides and use the sander to straight the more possible the cut side, if you don't have a proper sander you might can use the sand paper but you need somehow a place where to hold them like a bench vise. Also you can use the sender to make all the sides even as it could be (like in my case) that the width of the wood pieces you are using might be slightly different even if pretended to be the same (one was 10cm wide, the other 9.8cm).

For smaller parts or those parts you can't reach with the sander, you can use a chisel or a file to clean the cut and remove extra materials if required.

Step 6: Assembly the Base

At this point we have everything we need with us ready to be assembled so lets start.

First we will go with the base and taking care to be the more accurate possibly we glue and clamp the pieces that will be the HD case to the lower level of the base. Make sure to put a good amount of glue and to spread it in all the available area for a better result, eventual extra glue going out of the sides can be removed once everything is clamped in place to avoid having to sand it again later. I suggest to put the HD with driver board and so on in place to help with it. Once the pieces are in the proper slot leave the clamps there for a couple of hours at least (depends a lot on how fast the glue is to start work) before proceeding.

A hint: If you want to fasten up with the gluing I suggest to leave some small area (better not on the corners) without the wood glue and use there few drops of super-glue (like Attack or similar) as those will be faster to react and keep the pieces in place leaving the wood glue time to do its job and to us the time to go on without having to wait too much.

Ok, now that the HD slot is glued to the bottom part of the base we need to place the driver board and the cable so that it won't move allowing us to plug/unplug the HD easily. To achieve this without having to use anything special, we'll use a bit of hot glue to glue the driver board in place. Again to do it I suggest to place it with the HD too to help placing it in the proper slot. Obviously make sure to not glue also the HD ^_^.

Now before gluing also the top part of the base I suggest you to just clamp it in place without glue and check how the HD works, making sure it slides in/out without any issue. Also you need to pay attention to the USB cable as it might need you to remove some wood from the top part to allow it to fit inside without having to bend it.

In my design I have 2 USB coming out of the base, one for the lamp and one for the HD so I've got also to drill a hole into the top base to make the lamp cable to pass through and exit at the same level of the HD cable.

If this test succeed you can proceed to glue the hard disk driver and the USB cable using the hot glue in the proper slots and then glue the top in place making sure to include also the USB cable for the light and then clamp them in place and wait overnight to touch it again, but meanwhile we can proceed with the lamp body or if you will wait, then we can go on refining the base once the wood is properly glued.

Note: Before gluing the final piece of wood to make the enclosure make sure to test if the disk is properly recognized on a desktop as in my case it wasn't working when the full lamp was already done and I've got to cut the base to fix it.

Step 7: Refining the Base

This step depends a lot in how you'd like the lamp to look like and also if you see that the wood might not be absolutely flat and you want to flatten it before attaching the lamp body.

I've used a plane to smooth a bit the edges and to flat the more possible the wood. In case I've also used a sand paper for the smaller or more delicate parts and the sander to even the sides and help in flattening the wood. I've also used a 600 grit sand paper to smooth even further the wood for a much better result and feel.

Make sure to take care of the cables as you might risk to broke them (mainly with the sander) so be careful.

Also it is a good moment to check again if and how the disk slides/detach from the main hole to make sure that the glue put to close the top hasn't exceed inside causing the disk to not pass, in such case you might need to use a chisel to try remove the part in excess putting particular attention to not break the HD driver board.

Step 8: Preparing the Lamp Connections

In this step we need to prepare and test the lamp circuit again before gluing all in place for our final result so we need first to cut the hole on the back of the lamp where the switch button will be placed. I've drilled 4 holes on the 4 corners and then with a jigsaw I've cut the hole for the switch and then cleaned it out to the proper size with a chisel and a file. I suggest you to stay slightly shorter in size as then you can slowly reach the proper size and have a perfect fit for your button.

Now that the switch is in place I've proceeded placing the small block that will be in the center of the base of the lamp where the USB cable will pass through from the base. Before doing it though I've placed it next to the USB cable to see where it would have ended once the whole lamp would have been in place and mark where to cut the hole for the cable. Since the hole was basically on the very side of the piece I've drilled it and cleaned the hole with the chisel for a faster and easier passage of the cable. Then once the hole was in place I've centered it using the ruler and then glued it in place.

Now while we wait the piece is properly glued, we can solder the various cables to the small Attiny circuit that once sliced it fits perfectly the lamp back and I've glued it in place with some hot glue. Obviously I've tested everything once soldered. Once this is done, we can start to mount the lamp body.

Step 9: Building the Lamp Body

Now that the small wood piece is glued and the circuit is done we can start mounting the body. Using some clamps we can first check how it will look like once placed also to see if the cuts was good and eventually to remove some extra plastic material from the lamp if required to make it fit better.

Now that it is clamped we can calculate the dimension to cut our Polypropylene sheet to stripes. Those will be placed in front of the lamp to give a faded effect to the lamp light. I've cut 5 of them (1mm each so 5mm total thickness). Obviously if you buy a 5mm sheet you just cut one and would be much better, but I haven't found one. To glue them I used a power glue like Attack and then tried to fit them in place. I've used the plane to cut eventually extra millimeters to allow a perfect fit. Then I've tried the result just to make sure.

Here I realized that even if with room light off the lamp looks great the idea of using power glue wasn't the best as the sheets shows some halo where the glue was placed causing an horrible result when you look at it at sun light.

I've wondered a bit on how to solve this and I've decided to use some scotch, one which looks faded like the sheet itself. I've placed it with a small amount of the scotch on the front and all the rest going around the side to the back in order to keep them in place. I've also used a small precision cutter to clean the extra scotch that remained and the result looks good to me.

Now the issue is to glue it in place, unfortunately the space between the two sides of the lamp body is not large enough to allow me to pass with the hot glue so I've glued a first side to the base and then I've used the hot glue to set the polypropylene sheet to the side along with the lamp. To avoid the glue to spread out to the front side of the lamp (causing a potential bad result), I've placed the polypropylene sheets on place and glued the back side where it touches the wood, then I've also immediately put in place the lamp that then glued together with the front sheet. I've added some more glue to the back side of the lamp too to make it stay stronger.

I've also took time to use the plane to refine the sides still to glue (make sure to not cut the angles that will be glued together). For the side already glued I've used the plane till where it was possible then I've used the chisel to go down to the base.

Now that the lamp and the polypropylene sheets are in place, I've added a bit of hot glue on the other side, prepared the other wood side of the lamp with the wood glue and placed it to the final position and then used some clamps to make them stay in place. At the same time I've also placed the top. It went out few millimeters but I'll use the sander later to refine it.

Finally I've tested everything again and then glued the rear of the lamp, clamped in place and wait overnight for it to fix. The lamp is almost done now.

Step 10: Adding the Back and Sending

We are almost there, we need now to attach the back and refine the result with some sanding.

First though I've sanded the head of the lamp that was exceeding some millimeters, unfortunately here "speed was a bad adviser" and the result is that the thick of the top seems far smaller than the thick of the bottom as I've removed too much from the top, so in case please consider removing a small amount from the bottom too before gluing the lamp in place to even more the result.

Anyway for me is late so I've continued and once even the head part I've glued in place also the back and once fixed I've used the sander to refine also the latest glued part.

Once done I've used a 80 grain sand paper to smooth the edges and then a 600 grain one to smooth the whole surface for a better feeling when touched.

At this point the lamp is ready, we just need to make it look even better.

Step 11: Final Touches

We are almost at the end, we just need to apply the final touches to make the wood looks far better and the final result to be nice.

First though we need to remove all the dust from the previous sanding to make sure the Straw Oil will apply properly, then with a brush or a soft cloth we can apply the oil making sure to apply it all around the wood pieces. In case you use a brush you might need to pass with a soft cloth or a cotton disk to remove the exceeding oil once finished.

If you want you can also apply some felt on the bottom part as well.

Now the lamp is ready and can be used.

Step 12: Considerations

Now the lamp is done and ready to be used but I'd like to share some considerations.

First of all the final result is surely not as good as it was looking on the planned images but still thinking that it is all hand made without any professional precision tool nor with any good place where to do it (none of the cuts was made on a proper bench) I have to admit that the result is still quite good to me.

Obviously with more experience, patience and better place to do it, the result would have been far better also because I've discovered the hard disk dock wasn't working just at the very end and I've got to cut away the bottom part, check and fix the issue (was bad USB connection) and glue the piece in place again which took some effort and time as I've got also to refine the cut pieces for a good fit again.

So again as already told previously "plan first and think twice, measure twice and cut once" ;)

I hope you've enjoyed it and that this could inspire others to do something.

Last but not least, sorry for my bad English -_-