Ikea Projection Lamp Makeover Adds LED Matrix and Raspberry Pi Zero

If you’re like us, it’s hard to walk through an Ikea without mentally hacking everything there into something else. The salad bowl? Parabolic antenna. Drawer slides? Linear motion rails. Storage containers? Etching tank. We admit that we still haven’t figured out what to do with that 1,000-pack of tea lights.

[Alain Mauer] pulled off an Ikea hack that we’ve always dreamed about. In particular, he took the Sprida projector lamp and wedged an 8×8 LED matrix and Raspberry Pi Zero into it.

The lamp in question is essentially a slide projector for kids. Before [Alain] got to it, it had an LED in the back, a mount for a slide in the middle, and a focusing lens on the front. His mod is simplicity itself: remove the LED and transparency, and place the LED matrix in the focal plane where the slide used to be. Reverse images on the LED in software to compensate for the lens, and you’re done.

The video says “Raspberry Pi Zero with WiFi” and the project title promises “IoT”, but we don’t see the WiFi in the build. We’re guessing that [Alain] will get around to it — it’s easily doable. (Doh! There’s a tiny USB WiFi dongle providing the obligatory wireless connection.) Anyway, the point is the projection, and we love it, and we’d be lying if we said it didn’t make us think about RGB matrices.

38 thoughts on “Ikea Projection Lamp Makeover Adds LED Matrix and Raspberry Pi Zero

      1. in the description: “The video says “Raspberry Pi Zero with WiFi” and the project title promises “IoT”, but we don’t see the WiFi in the build. ” answer: There is a Wifi Stick near the matrix. (video time frame 0:19)

          1. And – as I expected – the cost several times more than the lamp itself: 95,- to 105 vs. the lamp for 29,-. Us$ vs. € does not make a real difference these days.

  1. The 1000 pack of tea-lights can be melted down, mixed with shredded carrier bags and turned into CNC machinist’s wax, and used to test / experiment cheaply with CNC machines (and manual machining too)

  2. Reversing the image has nothing to do with the lens?
    It is ‘mirrored’ because it’s a projection, you are looking at the led matrix from ‘behind’ when it’s on the wall.

    1. As long as it fits in the holder so it’s in the right focus and of the right size it becomes all about having enough light output.
      Unless you take a small LCD and remove the back lighting system to make it transparent I suppose, then you can use the lamp to project stuff, albeit not with good sharpness and linearity due to the simplicity of the system.

      But actually, when you think about it it might be easier and cheaper to just source a plastic lens somewhere and make your own primitive projector, because that ikea lamp costs 30 euros and in this setup you are not even using the light part. So it’s not super cost effective. It does have the advantage of universal quick availability though.

    2. RGB leds would be good. Although I guess brightness is a little bit of an issue.
      Perhaps a slightly modified lcd [ remove the silver backing ] and shine light through it at the lens. Maybe have three, one for each color and align them so the pixels overlap. Or flash them fast and synchronise the filter or better still, add a mask to each colour put a couple of prisms below the lens, shine in RGB from different angles.

  3. My reply above gave me an idea for a hack:
    You know how a monitor now has LED back lighting, which are some LED on the side of it, so what if you took a regular monitor and ordered some of those cheap 1 or even 10 Watt LED modules, and using lightguides used that as a replacement for the regular backlighting of the monitor, then you would theoretically get a super bright monitor. Then add a lens in front and use it to project.
    I wonder if that would work at all, or if the brightness would be too much and it would leak through the pixels of the screen.
    Might be a fun experiment with some leftover monitor though, or maybe a small LCD screen from a photo frame or something like that.

      1. I did, and found people making a beamer with a regular phone screen, but that’s not very bright, so it’s a good start for if my boosting output thing actually works. But would it work? I’m still worried the light might leak through the dark pixels when it gets too much. Although, if people use it in home made beamers as a transparent screen then my idea should theoretically work too, after all a beamer made with removing the back lighting means you need to use a very powerful lamp to project, and my idea would not need a distributor to even out the light since it’s already part of the display to evenly distribute it.

  4. Why is the Pi needed, surely an ESP8266 module would suffice and you get the WiFi built in? Also why use such a big font when a 3×4 would fit two characters across nicely, ideal for HH … MM … SS .. AM etc.

      1. Ah, that is much better, for a clock feature. I guess you can add a few extra goodies if you have all those Pi0 GPIOS too, like buttons, and PWM sound for an alarm and even some control lines for an extra powerful set of RBG LEDs to put on the top of the unit to fill the room with light for an artificial sunrise alarm. There is a project somewhere here on HAD that does that.

        1. Yes, after the first test with the led beamer, this was my idea too. A nice Internet controlled alarm clock, where I can read the time in the morning without my glasses. A binary clock is an idea too, but reading the time in binary format 4:45 in the morning…. bad idea.

  5. Can’t figure out a use for the tea light candles? After they are depleted the tin cup/bowl/dish makes a great solution for storing and organizing small screws when disassembling complex gear. You can fold and crimp them shut, and label as necessary. The wick base is steel and useful as washers or spacers in some cases.

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