Automated Light Painting Makes It Easy


What can we say — we’re a sucker for projects that feature our favorite logo. This is the Parallax Propeller Automated Light Painting Machine  — and no, it’s not a persistence of vision setup.

[Daniel], [Nathan], and the folks over at Embedded Aesthetics are big fans of Hack a Day and are very excited to share their new project. It’s a fully automated light painting setup that features an X-axis slide, a strip of RGB LEDs, a Parallax Propeller (microcontroller), and a DSLR — all you have to do is choose an image, and press start.

They first started light painting with their LED Paint Brush, an equally awesome, but slightly less automated tool. They’ve created this one to be a bit more interactive — in fact, you can actually go on their website, upload an image, and it will paint you a picture! But… it’s not available right now.

Need a bigger light portrait? How about one that makes images 4 meters tall? And this delta bot light painting machine is just too cool.


  1. TommyJones says:

    Nice use of the skateboard wheel although I think the chain is a bit overkill. I want to see a movie animated with this or something. Great hack!

  2. Nathan says:

    Thanks for featuring this! I wanted to point out more technical details can be found here:

    I helped create this project and I’m looking for some constructive criticism – what could have be done better and how?

    • Squirrel says:

      Have you considered trying a handheld unit with an internal IMU to track where it is in the picture?

      • Nathan says:

        Yeah that’s definitely an interesting idea. We have made a handheld unit, but not with an IMU – only an accelerometer . If you could keep track of the position of the unit, then you could know where it has “painted” relative to the image, thus ensuring nothing gets painted over.

        • bandit, Albuquerque says:

          Since you are using a chain drive, you could use the chain itself as an interrupter for an LED/optotransistor (hacked from an old mouse?)

          Great hack!

  3. peter says:

    Maybe I’m missing something but the description sounds a lot like a persistence of vision setup. How is this not POV? Am I missing something?

    • Paul says:

      Persistence of vision refers to an eye/brain phenomenon. In this case the persistence is in the camera.

      From the article:

      “The light painting occurs when the camera takes a long exposure photograph of the LED strip as it moves across the tracks”

  4. EA_Daniel says:

    Hello Hackaday community!

    UPDATE: I am happy to announce that the Automated Light Painting Machine is up and running for the evening. If you have the time (~1 minute) and a photo that you find exciting, please submit it to our interactive page to see it get made, and keep a digital copy for yourself. The interactive page can be found at:

    ** Username and password are both guest

    After uploading, grab the URL for your finished photo, and return to the file submission page to see it get made over the webcam. Punch in your unique URL a few seconds after it completes to see the final product. All in all, the entire process takes ~30 seconds after submission.

    We hope you find this exhibit to be interesting and fun, and please feel free to leave us some comments or constructive criticism as Nathan alluded to earlier.

  5. HankreasPancreas says:

    This is a great idea! After submitting a few images I find that photos with darker backgrounds turn out better.

  6. Chris Rhees says:

    Congrats Dan and Nathan you guys are awesome and friendly. . Love you long time..

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