Mood Lamp/notifier Uses Neat Modular PCB Design


Not only does this mood lamp which [J. Sutton] built look great, but we love the modular design he adopted when building the circuit boards.

If you’re building something that is going to sit on your desk for some time it just has to look good. We think that he achieved that, using a small block of oak as the base, and a cloudy white cube of unknown origin as a diffuser. Notice that the different colors are not mixed. There’s a baffle inside the diffuser that keeps them separate as early testing showed any combination of intensities was resulting in nearly the same shade of color.

The part we really like is the modular design of his circuit boards. The project is based around a Teensy++ 2.0 board. He first built a PCB baseboard which feature two SIL sockets to accept the legs of the Teensy. There is a third SIL socket which accepts some long legs from the LED host board, letting it perch on top of the Teensy.

28 thoughts on “Mood Lamp/notifier Uses Neat Modular PCB Design

  1. What I do have to say is …. this is cool… simple small…. and totally able to use batteries as well instead of a plug in for portability.
    What I am curious about is the frosted cube what is that made out of? Or how did he even make that because his website unless I missed it doesn’t say exactly what that is.

  2. :O MG!, Freaky!!. That was my first thought when I saw this as I have also been thinking of building a mood lamp (so that’s what they are called!) and this is almost exactly how I have been picturing it in my head. Feels as though he has been in my mind (hmmm….Mental Intruder Alert hack, anyone?). This makes the hack way more cool for me. But then I never though of email and facebook as the input sources (This just got even cooler). Nice idea, neat build, awesome stuff.

      1. You’re not wrong there! I originally designed it to use up the teensy ++ which was laying around, although now that I know it works and looks pretty nice I’m thinking of revising the design to fit it onto one board. I might even venture into the world of SMD if I can pick up the courage!

        1. SMD isn’t hard, especially not if you go for an AVR in TQFP and order proper PCBs.

          I have found that most of the fear of SMD comes from people telling others that SMD is hard, or from not knowing that the principles are slightly different with SMD.

          Watch a couple of tutorials on youtube, get a bottle of good flux, and you’re there.

      2. @Sven
        The teensy is pre-made.. but yes, it would be easy to put everything including the AVR on one board.

        >I have found that most of the fear of SMD comes from people telling others that SMD is hard

        The Hackaday editors write this every time they write anything about SMD. *sigh*


        If you can solder through-hole you can solder the 0.8mm AVR and a bunch of 0805 passives easily. Even if you mess up to the point that you have bridged a complete side of the chip you can rescue it with solder wick.

        1. I have successfully taught people with near zero soldering experience how to solder 0603, only took me 10 minutes. Of course i have met people who couldn’t solder a 5mm LED after 2 hours of trying too. A lot of it is setting your mind to accepting that it’s possible.

          Through some testing i have found that 0805 is a good starting point, 0603 is a little too small for some people but 1206 is just ridiculously big.

          Still have not found anyone determined to learn who couldn’t solder a 32pin TSOP AVR, USB connector and a bunch of 0805 components with minimal instructions, given that they knew which end of the soldering iron was the hot one, and had tried some through-hole before.

  3. “Cube of unknown origin”… the original site notes that it was originally a “dumb” (non-programmable) LED mood light from eBay (search LED Cube Mood Light Colour Changing Night Lamp Gift UK).

  4. It’s OK., but not awe-inspiring.
    And a bit over-engineered and costly perhaps for a notifier? I mean an entire teensy and designed PCB for this might be over the top, but if you got spare funds and like to live in style I guess it’s a thing to do though. Although – when money is no object then why not go wireless too? Or at least use a few of the many ports of the teensy to add a feedback key or keys so that if you press the cube it sends a command for instance, maybe put the computer in standby when pressed for instane, then you have dual functionality

    Lastly I can’t but help notice the poor sod has a facebook account. Oh well.

      1. You are universes away from the truth there, and in fact if YOU ‘moved out of your mom’s basement’ you would know that you have to manage your money in the adult world. And yeah it’s annoying, but it’s the reality for the 99%,
        Unless you count the fools who get into massive CC debt in which case in the US it’s only 10-15% :)
        I guess there’s the issue here actually, from a viewpoint of the CC junkies I’m the oddball, but I’m OK with it, each of us makes their own determination how to do things.

        Anyway I’m not mad.

      2. Incidentally, james himself in the comment above says he used the teensy since he had it lying around but he might move to something else, and if a cheap attiny works why dedicate a whole teensy to it? And if you do you got a teensy for the next project, and a teensy has tons of I/O that might be used rather than ‘go to waste’ if you pardon the expression.

        1. If you’re going to buy a bunch of microcontrollers to leave lying around, wouldn’t you spend the extra and buy more versatile, powerful ones? So then when you have your next idea you’re not limited by your hardware.

          I suppose one could keep a range of different MCUs with varying power, but you’d need to buy quite a few to cover all the possible projects you might make. So for most people I think it’s sensible and cheaper to have a few reasonably powerful chips, and sometimes underuse them. It’s only a few $ difference for so much more freedom and utility.

          1. I would (and did) buy a couple of the more powerful ones, and a whole bunch of the cheaper ones. This is because mostly you just want some simple functions and don’t need a lot of processing power or flash.

            Why do one when you can do both?

          2. @arlet: indeed but it’s easier to build upon existing stuff and to have some support in the way of clear documentation and examples, and a lot of stuff out there lacks such things, even though they are cheaper and more powerful.

            But hey a teensy3 is already a more powerful (ARM based running at 48MHz) arduino in a way, and you can use the arduino IDE with it, so if you wait more powerful stuff comes along in the end that still has support.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.