Shiftbrite coffee table

Here’s a project we’ve been wanting to do for a while. Over at they’ve posted an LED coffee table that uses a 9×9 RGB LED grid. For the LEDs, they used the shiftbrite modules we’ve seen before. The table is capable of displaying pre written patterns as well as accepting patterns from a computer via bluetooth. They’ve set it up to connect to a twitter feed and display to a live cam on their site. Though we would love to reproduce this, we need a little more justification than “ooooh, shiny”  for the funds involved. Anyone want to donate 100 shiftbrights?


  1. Craig says:

    Haha, me too, me too! I only need 11 donated for my project concept!

  2. Arxix says:

    For the price you could just use a flat screen tv and a small computer. Less to make and more options for what to display.

  3. dan says:

    isn’t 9×9 81 total?

    I do like shiftbrights though.

  4. Circuitmage says:

    Could double as Xmas display for house…or Hallows Eve ??….(reaching)

  5. macegr says:

    The table’s been around for a while, but what we did yesterday was add Bluetooth so it can actually sit in the living room and show data without a computer hanging off it. Right now it’s kind of a community artpiece or pixel graffiti but it could be a way to keep an eye on server status, email, weather forecast, etc.

  6. lilthump says:

    If you need more incentive then think about making it big enough to hook up to the LED Mario game that you recently featured. What better way to entertain your guest than playing some Mario on the coffee table?

  7. Asterisk says:

    @arxix Going out and buying those things would be easier, yes, but that defeats the whole purpose of learning new things and seeing what we can do. Imagine how boring this world would be if we didn’t have people like those at pushing the limits of what we have done and creating new things. We’d pretty much still be cavemen. And personally, I don’t feel like I belong on a Geico commercial. Do you?

  8. googfan says:

    9×9 = 81

  9. Craig says:

    Yes, of course 9×9=81.

    but the REAL formula is (9^2)+n,

    where n = the number of modules you fry from accidental overvoltage.

    I almost did that to my shiftbrite set by plugging the arduino into the USB bus and the power supply at the same time.

  10. solipsistnation says:

    shiftbrights are cool, but too expensive, as you’ve noted.

    There are cheaper ways to do it. I’m working on one, but it may be a while before I have it done since I have limited time these days…

  11. Joe says:

    here’s my coffee table

    Also see my other videos

    it uses 112 lRGB led’s ed’s

  12. Drone says:


  13. macegr says:

    If you want to hunch over a soldering iron for weeks and only end up with on/off control with shift registers or a low-brightness flickering matrix, then you might figure out a cheaper solution. Try to actually design a system with 81 RGB LEDs running 10-bit PWM at full brightness (no matrix duty cycle) and then estimate how much time and cost it will take to build. I think our price is at least fair, especially at some of the first price breaks.

  14. Phlip says:

    @Joe, nice table! got any more info on your build or controller?

  15. philipchallis says:

    Too expensive for what it is> I agree could use a computer and a Flat screen TV.


  16. Craig says:

    I agree that a coffee table with an embedded LCD display and a computer driving it would be awesome.

    However, this setup doesn’t need a dedicated computer to run it.

    Also, it may be bad publicity for the makers of the ShiftBrites to say “Well, we were going to make an LED coffee table, but our LED modules were just TOO expensive, so here’s this table made from a flat screen and a computer instead.”

  17. macegr says:

    Where are you going to find a coffee table sized LCD for less than $500 anyway…

  18. Jason says:

    Asterisk makes a very salient point: it’s about the making. This is, not!

  19. scott says:

    hey guys , i am working on a similar project with 49 shiftbrites , ive roughly worked out that i need a 15v power supply to run them, is that correct? , but dont the shiftbrites only support up to a 9v power supply? im so confused

  20. macegr says:

    You need to think about amps, not volts. Try to keep the voltage above 5.5V and add up the amps per ShiftBrite (about 0.06). So you need at least 3 amps and a little extra never hurt. This supply would work OK, it’s open frame so I’m afraid you’ll electrocute yourself but Jameco has closed frame and desktop versions too:

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