Pixel Cloud Ambient Wall Light

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Introduction: Pixel Cloud Ambient Wall Light

About: ​Located in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the USA. Designing high quality LED controllers for personal and commercial use. All devices are designed and fabricated in the USA to high standards. With a competent s...

Another modification of an Ikea light, added addressable LEDs and a controller to create something unique. Designed to be used in a child's room for soft ambient light and as a night light. This project utilizes 56x APA102 addressable pixels, an NLED pixel controller, with dynamic customized color sequences. Featuring a strip of LEDs that shine onto the wall, creating an interesting ray effect.

This project is for personal use and is not for sale in any form. Some methods and techniques would not be suitable for producing devices for any purpose other than personal use.

Why APA102? This light is not suppose to be very bright, it is just for ambiance. APA102 have an extremely fast PWM frequency, which allows the pixels to dim to lower levels than other chipsets without creating choppy/flickery looking light.

For more detailed information for working with LEDs, addressable pixels, power supplies, and how to choose components(such as the pixel chipset). Please see the NLED Project Guide.

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Step 1: Tools and Supplies

Supplies:

  • Ikea cloud lamp 'DRÖMSYN'
  • Scrap plywood
  • Nails
  • Tinfoil, thicker stuff is better
  • Small Zip Ties, white/natural
  • Addressable LED Strip - Used here is APA102 30/M, also could use WS2812 or similar. Keep the total pixel count low.
  • USB Charger, small form factor - 2 amps or more
  • Aluminium duct tape - not regular duct tape.
  • Pixel Controller - Used here is a NLED Pixel Controller Electron with IR Remote Kit. Arduino or any other pixel controller could also be used.
  • 1.5ft microUSB Cable
  • Optional: Panel mount single AC outlet. Pulled from e-waste.

Tools:

  • Soldering supplies and iron
  • Bandsaw/Jig Saw/Coping saw or similar
  • Power drill and bits
  • Spade or Forster drill bits

Downloads:

Step 2: Assembly

Base Plate:

  • Trace the outline of the cloud onto the plywood.
  • Redraw the traced line inwards about 0.5" to 1". So the traced shape is smaller than the cloud.
  • Use a saw to cut the plywood along that line. The cut out piece should fit inside the cloud with an even gap all around. Adjust as necessary.
  • Optional: Use a spindle sander to smooth the internal curves, and/or a disc sander to smooth the external curves.
  • Sand edges smooth
  • Thin out wood glue with water and apply the edges. After it dries sand again and apply a second coat. That will make a smooth surface for the LED strip to adhere to.
  • Paint the top white or use white vinyl to cover it.

Setup Mounting Posts:

  • Set a compass for about 0.75", use the edge of the plywood as a guide and trace all around, leaving a mark.
  • Estimate 1" spaced increments and mark the line all around.
  • Use a power drill and drill bit that is just a little bit smaller than the nails you want to use.
  • Drill straight holes on the marked increments.
  • Hammer the nails into the holes, ensuring they are straight and do not come through the other side.

Step 3: Electronics

Electronic Components Preparation:

  • Decide how the pixel strip will be wired. There are 3 strips, and they all need to be connected together to form a strand.
  • Measure and cut the LED strip to fit along the edge of the plywood. It came out to 21 pixels.
  • Measure and cut a length of LED strip for the mounting posts. Both an inside and outside strip. Total was 18 pixels on the outside, 17 pixels on the inside.
  • Solder on connectors of choice, usually a JST 3 or 4 pin. And shrink tube the junctions, both for insulation and strain relief.
  • Test fit the electronics. LED strips, PSU, Controller, USB cable, button and IR receiver.

Optional: PSU Power Wiring: Wanted to be able to fully turn off the power to PSU when not in use, rather than turning off power to the light and leaving the PSU always on. And keep the same cord with inline switch.

  • Use a Forster or spade bit to drill out a recess for the power supply and AC outlet.
  • Cut the bulb socket off the light's AC cord.
  • Strip, tin and slide on a few layers of shrink tube. Solder the AC cord wires to the AC outlet.
  • Set the shrink tube, use multiple layers. Ensure no bare wire is uncovered.
  • Use insulating hot glue to cover the AC junctions.
  • Plug the USB PSU into the AC outlet and fit it into the recess. Hot glue it in place.

Assembly:

  • Apply the LED strip to the edge of the plywood, push it in well. Use a heatgun to warm the strip for better adhesion.
  • Attach the inside and outside LED strip to the mounting posts with zip ties.
  • If using a Pixel Controller Electron, prepare it to use USB power by attaching the jumper wire as described in the datasheet. And connect the IR remote receiver to the controller.
  • Attach the compatible connector to the pixel controller that will mate with the first length of the LED strand.
  • Plug the controller into the PSU using the short USB cable. Route it neatly.
  • Route and place the multi-function push button somewhere where it can be accessed.
  • Route and place the IR receiver where the infrared remote can interface with it.
  • Connect all the LED pixels together.
  • Review all connections, test for continuity or shorts. Then check it all again.
  • Apply power to test if all the LEDs work, test the button, and remote.

Step 4: Final Assembly

Securing Wires:

  • Once tested use insulate components that need it. Such as the pixel controller.
  • Use aluminum tape to secure the wires. That tape is permanent. Electrical tape and duct tape, are only temporary, and will eventually release and leave a sticky mess.

Internal Reflector:

  • This scatters the inward facing LEDs light to more evenly light the inside space.
  • Estimate a size of tinfoil. Size is not important.
  • Crumple it up and position it inside the mounting posts. Make sure it is not touching anything. It should be as tall as the mounting posts.
  • Carefully position it and adjust as needed. Once in place, use aluminum tape keep the tinfoil in place.

Step 5: Sequencing

This is a stand-alone device, it does not need any external data communication to run the color sequences. All the patterns/sequences are stored in internal memory.

Arduino has numerous libraries to choose from to accomplish similar results.

Described here is NLED Aurora Control, which is only compatible with NLED pixel controllers.

NOTE: NLED Aurora is currently being completely rewritten and modernized. With full cross platform(Windows, Mac, Linux) support. Along with numerous feature additions and capabilities. Expected release in early 2020

Video shows most of the steps. More details can be found with the Aurora tutorial documents and videos. Summarized:

  • Using the software's feature of Graphic Layout and Manual patching, an image of the project can be used to create a representation of the positions of all the pixels.
  • The user manually places a LED icon over the image where the pixels are located on the project. They must be placed in the same order as the addressable pixels are positioned in the strand.
  • Once the manual patch(map) has been created. The software offers a few features to dynamically apply patterns based on the position of the LEDs. This allows the sequence(patterns) to do things like sweep side to side or radial color cycles.

Step 6: Complete

Brand new NLED Aurora Control color sequencing software will be available in early 2020.

NLED controllers and software are in constantly improved and updated. Contact with any feature requests or bug reports.

Thanks for reading, please visit www.NLEDshop.com for Made In The USA LED Controllers and LED Products.

Or find more projects that utilize NLED products on our Instructables Profile or the Projects Page on our website.

For news, updates, and product listings please visit www.northernlightselectronicdesign.com

Please Contact Us with any questions, comments, or bug reports. NLED is available for embedded programming, firmware design, hardware design, LED projects, product design, and consultation. Please Contact Us to discuss your project.

Updates and More Info Can Be Found On The Project Webpage: www.nledshop.com/projects/wallcloud

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