BeamBox - a Tower That Glows to Your Commands





BeamBox - The partly 3D printed, part hand crafted rectangular tower that glows to your commands, either pre-determined, to music or by using specialised lighting software.

The design is very similar to the VortoLight but with a different goal in mind. The goal of the BeamBox is to be easy and fun to build while being less oriented about the internet control aspect that is the focus of the VortoLight. The BeamBox needs cheap corrugated plastic (also known widely as CorFlute) and runs off of an Arduino. A single BeamBox costs roughly $10-20 depending on your location and material availability.

3D printing these days is pretty cool, right? However I feel as if it takes some of the fun out of making stuff. Instead of doing most of it yourself you set and forget your 3D printer and come back a few hours later to join the parts together and... that's it. I wanted to make something that used 3D printing but still had a lot of human involvement. This makes it a whole lot more fun to make.

Let's get to building!

Step 1: Parts & Procedure

Parts: (also noted in picture)

Hot Glue + Gun

Cardboard (optional, see procedure)

3D printed base (optional, see procedure)

CorFlute ( this stuff, also known as corrugated plastic)

a number RGB LED pixels (RGB LEDs with an IC on them) (the more you use the better resolution you will have, I used 7 and am very happy with that number)

Arduino (Designed for Uno and Leonardo)

USB Cable + Power Adaptor (5v preferably, needs to fit Arduino plug)

Wires + Soldering Iron

Cutting Instruments (hobby knives, disk cutters, straight edges)

Measuring Equipment (calipers, ruler, measuring tape)


1. 3D print base OR Make it out of cardboard + hot glue

2. Cut Corflute into right sizes for 4 sides + Lid

3. Wire up LED's and attach to 1 side of box

4. Hot glue sides + lid together

4. Load up code and enjoy!

Seems easy enough? It really is!

Step 2: The Base - 3D Printing or Cardboard Cutting

The base! The base is useful to keep the whole tower standing straight up and not topping over. It also makes it look cooler and gives a place for the Arduino to sit in. I made my base fit a ~75x~75mm tower however you can scale it as large as you want. Keep in mind though when making your base that it needs to fit your chosen choice of microcontroller, that be an Arduino UNO or an ATTiny, it needs to be able to fit into it. The base is basically a ring around the corflute box with a cut out section for the Arduino ports.

To make the base you can either:

3D print it using a model


Use hot glue and glue cardboard or corflute together.

I went with the 3D printing route as that is what I thought would look best. You can really use any model you like for the base, I have made several designs (models available below) but chose to use the one I did (base 3) for its quick printing time and simplicity; it is also very sturdy.

MY MODELS: (created in Autodesk's Inventor)




If you choose to go the route of hot glueing cardboard together, you will just need to cut the cardboard pieces and glue them so they resemble a base, however, I don't want to be too limiting. You should use the models provided above for a starting point of your base though.

Step 3: Cutting Corflute

It is time to cut the Corflute!

Corflute is surprisingly easy to cut, it is very easy to cut straight if you use a roller knife and a straight edge. The size you cut the Corflute is relative to how big you want the BeamBox to be. I wanted mine to be half the size of the sheet I bought which was 900x600mm, so it would be 450mm tall. The width of the sides had to fit in the base so I made them 3mm less than the width of the base, 75mm, to come to a total of 72mm wide for the sides. I did it 3mm less because to actually fit them all in nicely, I had to remove the width of the Corflute, 3mm, from all the sides so that would fit into the 75mm base width. So I would cut 4 - 450x72mm strips of Ccorflute.

Phew! that was a lot of measurements. If you have any queries about them don't hesitate to ask!

After that, you will need to trace holes for the Arduino ports on the bottom of 1 of the strips. (It doesn't matter which one). Then you need to cut out those holes. I used hobby knives to do this.

Recommended, but Optional Step:

If you want a base for your Beambox then you simply need to cut a cardboard square so it will fit into the size of your base. This is good so nothing will short the contacts on the bottom of your Arduino board.

Step 4: Wiring the LEDs

Ahh, good old LEDs, what we would do without them.

The LEDs that I used (shown in the pictures) use a WS2811 IC and have 4 connection points, +5v, GND, DataIN, and DataOUT. The names are quite obvious about what they each do. They are designed to be daisy chained together simply by soldering wires from the first LEDs DataOUT to the next's DataIN. This makes them awesome to use and so I connected 7 of them by daisy chaining them along the length (or height) of the Beambox. Make sure to leave extra long wires with breadboard pins on the bottommost LED. Also a side note,


I wasn't thinking straight and quickly rushed to get the whole thing built and didn't test them, I got it all glued up and plugged it in to only find that all up to LED 5 turned on... This was, I later found out by destroying the whole thing, because there was a single strand of wire shorting the +5v to the DataIN. I had learned the hard way, but it is essential that you test your LEDs BEFORE you glue it all up or you will have a hard time if something goes wrong.

The next step is easy, simply attach your LED's to the strip of Corflute which you have cut the holes out of for the Arduino. You can do this with sticky tape, blutack or anything adhesive (however I would stay away from anything permanent like hot glue)

Why the back? Well if they are in the middle then there are obvious definite lines of the LEDs but if they are at the back they are adequately diffused and because you are never going to see the back, it is ok for them to not diffuse at all at the back.

Onto the next step!

Step 5: Putting It All Together!

It's finally time for these piles of materials to resemble something!

Step 1:

Glue 2 plain strips (plain = not cuts in them) of Corflute together with hot glue, making sure it is on as good as a right angle as possible.

Step 2:

Glue the other 2 strips (1 plain + 1 with Arduino port holes and LEDS) together making sure that the direction of the Arduino ports are right(I.E. the when the Arduino sits inside of the strips the port holes you cut match up) and glue together on as good as a right angle as possible.

Step 3:

Glue the 2 right angled pieces together making sure to keep the width equal on all sides and not wider on one and shorter on another.

Step 4:

Glue the top on, pretty self-explanatory.

Step 5:

Insert into base and wire up, while also slotting the Arduino into the base. Optionally, if you made it, insert the cardboard cutout for the base now.

Step 6:

Load the code, more on that in the next step!

Step 6: Coding

I'll admit, I don't like coding that much. It's not that it's boring, it's just that why code something when someone has already coded it for you! So I will link some cool examples that I use, however, most of them are edited versions of other people's code with added comments and such, so don't think I coded everything myself, because I didn't.

The code requires the FastLED library. Link for lazy people

Some Examples: (check every so often for new ones)

(code hosted on Pastebin)

Rainbow fade the whole tower

Set tower to any colour

Control tower from Vixen (Buggy!) (requires adafruit's Neopixel Library - available here and Vixen Lights - available here)

Planned Features:

Rainbow fade down tower

Fade between 2 colours

Possible Ideas:

Control tower with music (possible using vixen controlling code above)

Control tower with sound sensor

Hey also, thanks for reading my instructable! if you liked it could you please vote for it in the contests, it is very much appreciated!



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    30 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Hi do you think it would be possible to make a video tutorial (youtube video perhaps) to show the construction process and maybe even coding? I am a student trying to get into this kind of thing and it would be extremely helpful! Thanks!


    3 years ago

    hey,can u please draw me the scheme of the arduino? like where should we plug the led strip into and others? i'm a bit confuse with your code since you didn't write the description of the code. thank you so much.

    4 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    it doesn't need drawing because it is really simple. The +5v and the GND go to the WS2811 LED's +5v and GND respectively, and the Arduino's data pin 9 goes to the 1st LED's DATA IN connection.

    What kind of LED strips are you using? If they are the kind with +12v,R,G and B connection - they won't work with this setup.


    Reply 3 years ago

    So it needs a 5v with rgb? ws2811 is too expensive, it cost around $90. If i use other led such like

    Will it work? The input is 5v too. I've seen your last version about the beambox but the coding is too complicated, i can't understand it. Thank you.


    Reply 4 years ago

    Why would the raspberry pi allow you to do more color combinations? When it comes tod controlling outputs such as LEDs, microcontroller like the arduino are much easier to use. Pi is great for the computer processing side but as far as IO goes, it isn't the best. The python programming platform for them is slow and confusing. I would say you could add many more color combinations using an arduino, especially if you use Adafruit's NeoPixels. I'm not saying it is not possible to be done with a Pi, just more expensive and less intuitive.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I don't know, I just don't have a arduino anymore & have no big use for my Pi right now. Thanks!


    Reply 3 years ago

    I'm a little late to the party but ... a Raspberry Pi won't reliably drive the WS2811/12/12b led pixels. The LEDs have very tight timing considerations when writing to them. The RasPi running Linux cannot keep the timing as it has a continual flow of interrupts, etc that disrupt the timing. You can get boards like FadeCandy that sit between your Pi and the LEDs that are fun and easy to use in many languages.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I think using a Raspberry Pi is a bit overkill and may be harder (i'm not sure though, never used a Pi). Also what braytonlarson said below, it doesn't really do anything that an arduino can't, and a Pi is also very large and doesn't fit in the base.

    You could really make it out of anything however if you are using metal you need to make sure that the Arduino doesn't short itself.


    4 years ago

    Corflute thickness?
    The bigger the thickness more RGB Led's I have to put, right?
    Or does it gets to a point where the light won't cross the Corflute?

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    The Corflute thickness I used was 3mm however I can only get 3mm and 5mm; and yes, you will most likely need more LEDs if your Corflute is thicker. Also there will be a point where the light won't cross however that is only if you use 1cm+ thick Corflute (which is kinda pointless).


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Would this work with a cheap remote controlled uplight, rather than the strings of LEDs?

    For example this one for about $6.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, that will work however it just simply won't be able to do any effects that require multiple light sources. You will also need to remove the circuitry out of the bulb it takes AC and converts it to DC for the circuit. But other than that it should be fine.