Making a Mega LED Desk

Few things beat a sturdy, home-built desk — especially when it’s jam-packed with over 1200 WS2812 LEDs.

[nolobot] and his bother struggled with setting up and squaring-off the t-slotted, extruded aluminium frame which makes up the desk. He recommends practicing with a smaller frame for anyone else attempting a similar build. The surface of the desk has a few inches between the polycarbonate top and the 1/4″ plywood painted black serving as the substrate for the LEDs. Those LEDs come in strip form but still required several hundred solders, and wiring headaches in an attempt to make future upgrades manageable. Dozens of support bolts with adjustable feet support the desk surface throughout. These all had to be individually adjusted and can be made out if you look closely at the demo videos.

An Arduino Mega controls the LEDs with the help of the FastLED library. Custom code was necessary because one of the major issues [nolobot] faced was the power draw. 1200 LEDs at 5V draw quite a bit of current, so the LEDs were coded to peak at about 50% brightness. The matrix was split into different banks, while also limiting the 40A PSU to only 15A.

Regarding the final product, all we can say is: woah.

Not a fan of putting this much work into a piece of furniture? There are also ultra-minimalist options at your disposal.

[via /r/arduino]

36 thoughts on “Making a Mega LED Desk

    1. This is entirely the wrong website to ask that question. This isn’t practical-solution-to-real-problem-a-day.

      To answer the question, though, the main reason is almost certainly the aesthetic value. It looks cool.

    1. It’s a “mega desk”, the “mega” not referring to how many desks but how “great” it is. But it happens to be an “led desk”, which s ten prefixed by “mega”.


      1. Your local glass supplier. The last big one I got was 1.1m square, about 15 mm thick. Fairly heavy (50 kg). With nicely beveled and polished edges it came in around US$300, delivered. It was supported only by eight points on its edges and you could sit/stand on it.

        Unfortunately, someone dropped a small stone statue on it and made a big me$$. I’d opt for a laminated glass next time. No way would I go for polycarbonate: it scratches too easily and looks awful in pretty short order.

        1. I don’t know. I’m pretty rough on my desks so I’d like a surface that can later be refinished. This is why my current desk is an untreated sheet of 1″ pine.

          Also, I really can’t stand glass table tops. They’re hard but still scratch, you live in fear of them shattering, and they’re expensive to replace.

          1. Also, I really can’t stand glass table tops.
            Absolutely. I agree. The table I mention was a large coffee table and, in retrospect, not a great idea, even though it looked good. For something to actually *work* on, yes, wood is good. My current desk and workbench are 14-ply birch, 40 mm thick, finished with water-borne polyurethane: wonderful stuff. 15 years of daily use and still in excellent shape.

            And my 600-LED 9000-lumen array goes above my desk, where it belongs (yes, that’s a LOT of light).

    1. Is hard mineral glass the same as tempered glass?

      I like the idea of laying LED strips down on a good solid substrate and pouring table resin over the entire surface. That has its own downsides, but I imagine the effect would be worth it.

      You could probably also have a sort of hybrid approach – lay down rigid plastic tubing the LED strips could slide into, pour resin over those, and have the ability to repair/replace LED strips if needed.

      1. “mineral glass” is just ordinary silica glass, usually doped with something (soda lime, borosilicate, etc.) to improve it in some respect (melt point, workability, thermal shock resistance). Some use the term to distinguish from plastic (resin) or harder, more expensive sapphire (e.g. watch crystals). Not to be confused with fused quartz.

    2. I have a 2.8m x 1.2m desk made with a donated tempered glass pane that was surplus from an hotel(friend owns the company that made all the glass work in said hotel), got two drawer towers made and a full wood surface(dont know the technical term in english :( ), the glass is fully supported, its dark glass because its supposed to create a shadow in the hotel lobby and under the glass there is a nice stained wood, its my electronics work bench, the drawers are handy to stuff full of crap, over it got a single rack about 2m long and 60cm deep that as my power supplies and some leds to light up the bench.
      The glass is scratched so badly from X-acto blades in a couple zones :( and random screws under heavy dvd’s, amplifiers, laptops, monitors and whatnot), but its still in one piece..

      At least I can play with cyanoacrylate, various epoxies, can leave the soldering iron on it for hours(forgot it turned on AND out of the stand, ups), it all cleans up easily.

      IF i had to pay for the glass, it would never be glass, but the glass was free, and all the woodwork was around 120€ delivered from a small local carpentry, the rack was like 30€, all solid pine, already aged so it won’t warp(and given the already 4 years that the desk as, still straight as it was done).

      1. At least I can play with cyanoacrylate, various epoxies, can leave the soldering iron on it for hours(forgot it turned on AND out of the stand, ups), it all cleans up easily.

        That’s my favorite thing about glass, nonreactive and inert (99% of the time) and doesn’t usually catch on fire. ;)

  1. “Custom code was necessary because one of the major issues [nolobot] faced was the power draw. 1200 LEDs at 5V draw quite a bit of current, so the LEDs were coded to peak at about 50% brightness.”

    Custom code? This is one of the really great *bult-in* features of the FastLED library?

    ” // limit my draw to 1A at 5v of power draw
    FastLED.setMaxPowerInVoltsAndMilliamps(5,1000); ”

    At the office, so imgur is blocked, someone correct me if I’m missing something here, I don’t see what’s custom about using inbuilt features, else the whole code base is “custom” by that definition, making a moot point!

    1. Wait, no, I have to admit, he may have actually used that very function for all I know. From the reddit thread;

      “The LEDs are peaked not at full brightness but like at ~50% in code,”

      I don’t know what prompted the word “custom” to seem necessary before “code” in the writeup above, I mean, surely all code is “custom”?

      Also. Not ranting on the guy, I’ve no idea what processor is driving this, but this begs for a Teensy 3.2 with the video streaming project loaded onto it.

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