Cheap Party Light Gets Arduino Upgrade

If you’ve got a party coming up and are looking to add a little bit of excitement, you might be interested in this recent project from [Gav Lewis]. The build is based on a commercially available party light, but with some upgraded components the final product is brighter and more dynamic than it was stock.

Realistically, [Gav] has changed out almost every component of this light except for the enclosure and the front lens. The original 5 mm LED array was replaced with a new 8×8 WS2812B panel, and the electronics completely replaced with an Arduino Nano. He’s still using the light’s original power supply, but as it only puts out around 4.2 V, he’s added a boost converter to provide a stable 5 V for the new hardware. He also added a small 12 V cooling fan, which he says is basically silent since it’s only getting half its rated voltage.

[Gav] has developed a number of lighting patterns with FastLED that do a good job of emulating what you might see from a much more expensive laser scanner. In the video after the break, you can see how multiple colored beams of light exit the housing at once, projecting patterns on the opposite wall. He says he’s like to restore the device’s original sound activation mode, but as of yet hasn’t gotten the code sorted out.

This project uses a off-the-shelf 8×8 matrix of WS2812B LEDs, but if you ever find yourself needing to piece together your own array from individual LEDs, we recently covered a great tip for making it a bit easier.

22 thoughts on “Cheap Party Light Gets Arduino Upgrade

    1. That’s awesome! I’m not skilled enough to be able to figure out how to address that original board. Thankfully the fastLED matrix route was easy enough to figure out for me :)

    1. I am not sure what the magnification is of the original lens, however it measures about 70mm diameter and is around 20 to 30mm thickness in the middle.

      I tried looking for similar lenses on ebay and amazon but found mostly 50mm meant for experiments. I also found its probably cheaper to buy the light to source a lens in most cases.

      1. Modding is risky when you don’t have the experience as the wrong part in the feedback circuit can damage things.

        For those who want to mod:
        Your feedback circuit looks like: (RF1 shorted probably for cost reasons)

        TL431 is a 2.5V shunt regulator, so the values RH1, RL1 should be the same for a 5V output.
        Just a wild guess that the current values are probably 6.8K and 10K common values that gives the right ratio for 4.2V.

        The voltages for these kind of mods shouldn’t be drastically different as that can over-stress the parts.

  1. Would be great to tweak the software to work with a circuit similar to that in the Sparkfun sound detector for some hardware beat detection. I can feel an new project coming on….

    1. I would love to see that! I was intending to use a voltage divider and a line output from my amplifier for audio input. I had it wired up and could see analogue readings in the serial monitor just have no idea how to make a beat / peak detector…

    1. Thanks man! I have always had a curiosity for disco lights and plan a few more arduino / LED upgrades for some other lights I have too which used to use expensive, hot and fragile halogen bulbs. I can’t get anything as bright as the halogen in LED obviously, but can make something useful for home / house party use I think :)

  2. Taking it a step further, lookup “Adafruit 15×7 CharliePlex LED Matrix Display FeatherWing” – pop one of those in and you could then in theory project text, but you’d likely have to mirror/flip the matrix so the projected result is correct!

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