Head Lamp Gives Glowing Creature Comforts

What can we say? It’s 2021, and we could probably all use a psychotic glow worm lamp in our lives about now to lighten the mood and/or provide a new focal point for sitting and staring. Tired of dragging out that creepy little Elf on the Shelf every holiday season? [LiabilityLabs]’ Head Lamp is slightly less terrifying and far more functional. Really, the options are limitless.

The brain of this scare snake is an Electromage Pixelblaze LED controller, a powerful Wi-Fi enabled little board with a live web editor. [LiabilityLabs] recycled 20 milky plastic containers and their lids to help diffuse the light and avoid hot spots by holding the LED strip in the center of the tube. There’s a momentary button on the glowy guy’s tail that lets [LiabilityLabs] cycle through different color patterns with ease.

Whether you need a mascot for your stream channel, a confidant, or a refreshing rainbow rubber ducky of problem solving, Head Lamp is flexible. Feast your eyes on some brief animations after the break.

Want the glowies without the willies? This mesmerizing fiber optic lamp is an easy build.

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The Bright Side Of The Moon Lamp: It’s Any Colour You Like

One of the easiest ways to get into hardware hacking is by piecing together a few modules and shoehorning them into a really cool home. For example, why buy a commercial moon lamp when you can spend 30+ hours printing your own, and a few more hours hacking the guts together?

[Amit_Jain] was inspired by a project that combined a color map and bump map of the moon into a highly-detailed printable model. Displeased with the lack of features like portability and pretty colors, [Amit] took it to the next level by designing a threaded cap that unscrews to show the streamlined guts of an off-the-shelf RGB LED controller.

[Amit] freed the controller board from its plastic box and soldered the LED strip’s wires directly to it. For power, [Amit] taped the board to the battery from an old cell phone and stepped it up to 12 V with a boost converter. We think this looks quite nice and professional, especially with the stand. A brief demo is on the rise after the break.

If you’ve got the room for a much, much larger light-up moon, you should go for it.

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Circuit Board Origami Puts You Face-to-Face With Low-Poly Electronics

Paper craft has been around almost as long as paper itself. It’s fun to mimic paper craft and origami with low-poly 3D prints, and [Stephen Hawes] wondered whether it could be done with copper-clad PCBs. Two years after the question arose, we have the answer in the form of a fantastical mask with light-up eyes. Check it out in the video below.

[Stephen] started with a model (Update: [kongorilla’s] 2012 low poly mask model from back in 2012 was the starting point for this hack) from the papercraft program Pepakura Designer, then milled out dozens of boards. Only a few of them support circuitry, but it was still quite the time-consuming process. The ATMega32u4 on the forehead along with the fold-traversing circuitry serve to light up the WS2812B eyes. Power runs up the copper tube, which doubles as a handy mounting rod to connect to the 3D-printed base.

To be fair, eighteen months out of the two years this project took was spent hand-sanding a chamfer on every edge of every panel so that they could be glued together. Soldering the edges together didn’t work as well as you might think, so [Stephen] used Superglue mixed with baking soda to give it body and make it dry faster. The result is a low-poly human face of shiny copper with TQFP-44 chip package a the all-seeing eye in the middle of its forehead like something from Tron come to life.

Just a reminder — we have a circuit sculpture contest running now until Tuesday, November 10, 2020 at 12:00 pm PST. We’d love to see what you can do, whether it’s in brass rod, copper clad, or a combination of the two. Take a look at the submissions we’ve received so far, and then show us what you’ve got.

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The Most Expensive D20 You’ll See Today

Roll your negotiation skill, because this d20 is a hefty one. The Tweet is also below. We are charmed by [Greg Davill]’s twenty-sided LED contraption, but what do we call it? Is it a device? A sculpture? A die? Even though “d20” is right on his custom controller PCB, we don’t think this will grace the table at the next elf campaign since it is rather like taking a Rolls Royce to the grocery store. Our builder estimates the price tag at $350 USD and that includes twenty custom PCB light panels with their components, a controller board, one battery pack, and the 3D printed chassis that has to friction-fit the light faces.

Power and communication for all the panels rely on twenty ribbon cables daisy-chained throughout the printed scaffolding, which you can see in the picture above. [Greg] made a six-sided LED cube last year, and there are more details for it, but we suspect he learned his lesson about soldering thousands of lights by hand. There are one-hundred-twenty LEDs per panel, times twenty, that is over two-thousand blinkenlights. We don’t yet have specs on the controller, but last time he used a SAMD51 processor to support over three-thousand lights. We don’t know where he’ll go next, but we’re game if he wants to make a chandelier for Hackaday’s secret underground lair.

(Editor’s Note: If you were at Supercon last year, and you got to play with this thing in the flesh, it’s worth it!)

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Playing The Pixelflut

Every hacker gathering needs as many pixels as its hackers can get their hands on. Get a group together and you’ll be blinded by the amount of light on display. (We propose “a blinkenlights” as the taxonomic name for such a group.) At a large gathering, what better way to show of your elite hacking ability than a “competition” over who can paint an LED canvas the best? Enter Pixelflut, the multiplayer drawing canvas.

Pixelflut has been around since at least 2012, but it came to this author’s attention after editor [Jenny List] noted it in her review of SHA 2017. What was that beguiling display behind the central bar? It turns out it was a display driven by a server running Pixelflut. A Pixelflut server exposes a display which can be drawn on by sending commands over the network in an extremely simple protocol. There are just four ASCII commands supported by every server — essentially get pixel, set pixel, screen size, and help — so implementing either a client or server is a snap, and that’s sort of the point.

While the original implementations appear to be written by [defnull] at the link at the top, in some sense Pixelflut is more of a common protocol than an implementation. In a sense, one “plays” one of a variety of Pixelflut minigames. When there is a display in a shared space the game is who can control the most area by drawing the fastest, either by being clever or by consuming as much bandwidth as possible.

Then there is the game of who can write the fastest more battle-hardened server possible in order to handle all that traffic without collapsing. To give a sense of scale, one installation at 36c3 reported that a truly gargantuan 0.5 petabytes of data were spent at a peak of rate of more than 30 gigabits/second, just painting pixels! That’s bound to bog down all but the most lithe server implementation. (“Flut” is “flood” in German.)

While hacker camps may be on pause for the foreseeable future, writing a performant Pixelflut client or server seems like an excellent way to sharpen one’s skills while we wait for their return. For a video example check out the embed after the break. Have a favorite implementation? Tell us about it in the comments!

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Hex Matrix Clock Is Spellbinding

Just when we think we’ve seen all possible combinations of 3D printing, microcontrollers, and pretty blinkenlights coming together to form DIY clocks, [Mukesh_Sankhla] goes and builds this geometric beauty. It’s kaleidoscopic, it’s mosaic, and it sorta resembles stained glass, but is way cheaper and easier.

The crucial part of the print does two jobs — it combines a plate full of holes for a string of addressable RGB LEDs with the light-dividing walls that turn the LEDs into triangular pixels. [Mukesh] designed digits for a clock that each use ten triangles. You’d need an ESP8266 to run the clock code, or if you’d rather sit and admire the rainbow light show unabated by the passing of time, just use an Arduino Uno or something similar.

Most of the aesthetic magic here is in the printed pieces and the FastLED library. It has a bunch of really cool animations baked in that look great with this design. Check out the demo video after the break. The audio is really quiet until the very end of the video, so be warned. In our opinion, the audio isn’t necessary to follow along with the build.

The humble clock takes many lovely forms around here, including pop art.

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Color Your Workspace, Calm Your Mind

Every day, it seems to get harder and harder to relax and unwind. A person can only take so many lava-hot showers before they start cutting into work time. Listening to music is a wonderful option, but it can be difficult to find something to listen to that’s soothing without being disruptive. So what else can we try? Oh yes, blinkenlights. Frosted, glowing blinkenlights that bathe the room in color. Ahhhh.

There’s something about those enclosures that completes these so well. [ChrisParkerTech] used Alder wood sprayed with clear coat, which gives them a delightfully clean mid-century look. We also dig the lack of ceiling and unfinished top edge, because it gives the leaking light a bit of infinity pool mystique.

Of course, these wouldn’t be much of a relaxation tool if you have to get up up from your couch, chair, or bean bag every time you want to adjust them. Each strip is connected to a Wemos D1 mini, so [Chris] can control them with his phone via WLED, or make Alexa do it. Check out the build video after the break.

If you really love LEDs, don’t leave home without them. Show the world how you feel with a stylish LED hat.

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