Tool box light dimmer helps out a friend, offers up design tips


[miceuz] has a friend that works as a theatre technician, and in the course of his job he often needs to jigger with various stage components while shows are in progress. As you can imagine, the lighting situation is far from ideal, so he asked [miceuz] to build him an adjustable lighting solution for his tool box.

The circuit itself is relatively straightforward, using an ATMega88 to provide the PWM required for dimming and color control. Input is taken from three different sources, a rotary encoder for color selection, a pot for brightness control, and a button to turn the light strip on and off.

[miceuz] says that while project came together pretty easily, it still presented some issues along the way which provide some useful design reminders for beginners (and some veterans) alike.

First and foremost: debounce, debounce, debounce. [miceuz] forgot this mantra and made a mad dash to add capacitors to his design after etching the PCB to ensure that his inputs were not bouncing all over the place. He also noted that one should always be sure to read the ADCL before the ADCH register when decoding ADC data. His final observation is that using thick traces is the best policy whenever possible – he ran into a lot of issues with traces detaching during assembly, which he had to rework with wire and solder.

In the end, his friend was happy with the result, and [miceuz] is a better hacker for having worked through his issues. What sorts of important/useful lessons have you learned through the course of your projects? Be sure to share them with us in the comments.

Controlling Dioder light strips wirelessly


[SeBsZ] does a lot of work in home automation, using Xbee modules, LEDs, and other home lighting systems. Naturally, people look to him for help with different electronics projects, but one thing he has been asked time and time again is if he can make a simple mood lighting solution that can be easily installed.

He has always been interested in playing around with RGB LEDs, but he wasn’t looking to reinvent the wheel with this project. Instead he based his work off the Ikea Dioder product, an off-the-shelf set of adjustable LED strips. As we’ve seen before, the control module for these LEDs leaves a bit to be desired, so he removed the Dioder’s onboard PIC and wired up a controller of his own. His “Universal IO Board” uses an Atmega88 for control and has all the pins required to attach an Xbee wireless module. With everything wired up, he now has full wireless control of the Dioder light strips, without a ton of fuss.

Although he’s selling a few different hardware kits, the schematics for his IO board are freely available on his site, should you want to make your own. The only thing that we didn’t see was the code for the Atmega, but we’re guessing he has that posted somewhere as well.

Control LED lighting with an old stereo receiver


[Marklar] needed an IR receiver for a project he was working on, and his local electronics store was fresh out. He dug through his junk pile and found an old stereo receiver, so he decided to pull the IR module from it before tossing it out. Once he had it taken apart, he figured that he could utilize the wide array of electronic components he found inside, and set off to start a new project.

The control panel housed the components which interested him most of all. Using an Arduino, he was able to easily interface with the rotary encoders as well as the buttons, giving him a cheap and easy way to control his home lighting system. With a bit of programming, he was able to map lighting presets to various buttons, as well as use the rotary encoder to control the LEDs’ brightness and color. As an added bonus, he kept the IR receiver intact and can control his setup wirelessly as well.

Check out the video we have embedded below to see his scavenged control system at work.

[via HackedGadgets]

Continue reading “Control LED lighting with an old stereo receiver”

Impressive lighting console offers professional features for a fraction of the price


Hackaday reader [Michael] wrote in to share the build details of an impressive lighting console he has been working on for some time. He says that the 36+ channel console is on par with lighting rigs costing upwards of $5,000, but his was constructed for just around $1,000 – quite the substantial savings.

The console was constructed around an old IBM desktop computer, which handles all of the DMX output as well as preset management. An array of 20 ATMega 328Ps running the Arduino bootloader are scattered throughout the device, 18 of which are used to manage the six fader panels, while the remaining two handle management tasks. Aside from the fader banks, the console features a main control board featuring several LCD screens along with 17 capacitive touch buttons used for menu navigation and console control.

While [Michael] is finished building the board, he has just begun the documentation of the construction process. His blog should be updated regularly with more details, so be sure to check back often. Code, as well as hopefully tons of pictures and videos are all forthcoming.

[Edit: Cost comparison update]

Workshop lights so bright, they will give you sunburn


There are few things more frustrating than trying to tinker at your workbench with suboptimal lighting. [Jeremy] was toiling away in his workshop one afternoon when he decided that he finally had enough, and set out to overhaul his lighting setup.

His workshop is incredibly bright now, sporting a handful of under the shelf CCFL tubes to complement the mixture of cool and warm LEDs that are mounted on the ceiling. One thing we really liked about his setup is that he added a handful of LEDs to the bottom of his workbench, aimed at the floor – perfect for those times when a tiny screw or SMD component goes missing.

Everything is controlled by an ATMega 328 that he shoved into a project box, allowing him to tweak the lighting to suit his needs using a few simple buttons and a small LCD panel.

[Jeremy] says that the entire thing is “overkill” and that it is decidedly the messiest wiring job he has ever done. For something that was put together hastily in an afternoon, we think it’s just fine. The only thing we’re left wanting is some schematics and source code.

As far as the overkill comment goes, say it with me: There. Can. Never. Be. Too. Many. LEDs!

Stick around to watch [Jeremy] give a demonstration of how the system operates.

[via Adafruit blog]

Continue reading “Workshop lights so bright, they will give you sunburn”

Not your ordinary LED book light


[Steve Hoefer] is not a huge fan of traditional table lamps, so he set off to build a reading light of his own that was more aesthetically pleasing than the standard fare. He thought it would be pretty appropriate to construct his reading lamp out of a book, and we’re inclined to agree.

He stripped the pages from an old book he found at the thrift store, then built a plywood frame to fill in the recently vacated area. A second frame was built inside the first to support the installation of some warm LED strips as well as the acrylic sheet he used to diffuse the light. A whisker switch was installed in the corner of the frame, which turns the lights on when the book is opened. The lamp puts out about the light equivalent of a 40W bulb, and can be “dimmed” by simply adjusting how far the cover is opened.

It looks great on his bedside table, and like some of his other book-related hacks, it’s quite useful as well!

Be sure to check out the video of the light’s construction we have embedded below.

Continue reading “Not your ordinary LED book light”

Automated LED Hallway Lighting

If normal hallway lighting just doesn’t live up to your standards, this hack may be for you. When [Sean] fitted his kitchen, he replaced the flooring leading up to it.  In true hacker form, he decided to forgo (supplement?) traditional lighting and came up with his own solution.

This solution involved embedding the skirting used around his hallway hardwood with blue LED lights. Unfortunately, these LEDs were actually longer than the skirting was thick, so some plaster carving was also necessary.  It is all hidden very well behind the skirting, so you can’t tell. These blue LEDs give a really cool effect, similar to what can be seen at some movie theaters.

Although impressive in itself, [Sean] decided to also hook his setup up to a “Home Easy” device for control. A passive infrared sensor for this system has also been ordered so the lights can turn on without human interaction. We can see this being fantastic for those late night trips to the kitchen for a drink. With this low light solution, you won’t be wondering back to the bedroom without your night vision.