IKEA LED Table Mod Doesn’t LACK Awesome

Some people look at IKEA LACK tables as cheap furniture. Our readers look at them as a blank canvas. [Klaas] has turned a LACK Side table into an interactive LED table featuring 144 RGB LEDs. After attending a class on WS2801 pixel strings at his student IEEE chapter, [Klaas] was inspired to design something of his own. He settled on an IKEA LACK table and started sketching. He didn’t actually have a table on hand, so he had to deduce the size from the website images and dimensions. He calculated a usable size of around 45cm, which was pretty close to the mark. After running a few tests, [Klaas] determined that a 12×12 grid of squares 35mm on a side would provide that enough resolution to play simple games. The 35mm x 35mm grid would also be small enough for the LEDS to illuminate. He used a laser cutter to cut the an interlocking grid from 3mm MDF. A base plate with 144 12mm LED holes was also cut out, and the entire assembly was glued together.

For illumination, [Klaas] settled on WS2812B LEDs, as they were cheaper than their WS2801 couterparts. The WS2812B’s also snapped easily into his 12mm holes. At this point [Klaas] actually purchased his IKEA table and proceeded to cut a huge hole in it. The grid glued right in, and some aluminum L-profile cleaned up the top edge. Driving all those LEDs would need a bit of processing power, [Klaas] chose a Teensy 3, and the well-known OctoWS2811 library. He also added a USB host shield, which allowed him to use an Xbox 360 USB game pad as his controller. For software, he created a simple Tetris clone, and ported snake from the Arduino game shield. A menu and some scrolling text ties everything together. The only thing left to add is a glass top. [Klaas] hasn’t settled on clear or diffuse glass yet. We a suggest clear to avoid hiding any details of this great build.

15 thoughts on “IKEA LED Table Mod Doesn’t LACK Awesome

  1. To take this a step further I would add light sensors to every square. It could have an idle mode where it would light up any item placed on top of it. Could be quite the conversation starter when someone comes over to your place, they set a bag on the table and it is suddenly glowing.

    1. That’s one bummer with the WS28XX type modules… with straight LED control you can use the LEDs as photo-diodes and get a light reading. With the modules though you miss out on that wonderful “hack”

    2. How do you use a light sensor to actuate a light through? Would you just have a cowl that protects it from underneath and react to darkness over it while it’s off and light reflected inward while it’s on?

      1. two ways: (that i know of)

        1) an LED is actually a SOLAR generator, but the power it generates is along the lines of a dynamic microphone, VERY small, if you can power/signal it with a mic, then you can power/signal it with an LED

        2) an LED while off/reverse-biasd has a capacitence!
        the charge of a stored reverse voltage gets discharged by the energy (forward-biased) that gets generated by light shinning on it. and YES i did just explain how an LED is like a CCD.

        3) the various LED colors detect various colors of light, this can be incorporated into a color detecting sensor, unfortunately, this one is the one that needs artificial light to be directed at object to sense.

        if all you want is monochrome sensing then you can use either option 1) or 2),,, options 1) and 2) REQUIRE AMBIENT LIGHT. of course you could always shine an infared LED at the object and get monochrome sensing in the dark.

        THEY STILL DO NOT MAKE R.G.B.Ir. LEDs…. why? lol

  2. With some of the greatest hardwood forests on earth around here and the legacy of a century of furniture making I have never seen an Ikea store so I wouldn’t know.
    Tip for taking better picture. Flood the scene with more light, then LED’s will appear more colourful. They’re all white in the photo. Or use HDR exposures.

    1. There’s not much “real” wood to be found on these tables, all cardboard and compacted dust. The look of wood is just a fragile layer of paint it seems.
      The picture comes from a video taken with my phone. I’ll try again with a more decent camera and more ambient light :)

    1. If you’re careful and manage to saw off the ends of the legs without screwing up the veneer you can glue wood blocks into the hollow parts. Seems to work pretty well, just not as easy and quick as before.

  3. Cool. I’m working on a pretty similar table with a 20×10 grid. How did you do the text animations? Send instructions directly via serial to your Arduino or is it all happening onboard? I seem to run out of memory with these things pretty fast.
    I suggest getting diffuse glas to get the “square-feeling” better.

    1. The whole program runs standalone on a Teensy3, no serial connection to PC needed. I used a 8×8 pixel font from the uTFT library, and “render” each letter to a temporary buffer. Compared to the Arduino, the Teensy3 has a lot more flash and memory so this was not a problem.
      I’m sure my code could be a lot more efficient, but it already runs quite fast as it is :)

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