Giant LED Matrix Fills Blank Space In The Kitchen

We’ve all got one: a blank space somewhere in our home that we don’t know what to do with. [James Miller] had one above his kitchen cabinets, so he filled it with a giant LED matrix. The result is a large but surprisingly attractive LED screen that can send messages, provide illumination, or while away the idle hours of the night playing Conway’s Game of Life.

[James] built the matrix using the usual suspect for these builds: several strings of WS2812 lights . He initially ran this from a Raspberry Pi, but realized that there was no need for such a dizzying amount of computing power, so he switched to an ESP32 instead. The frame is built from wood and foam board.

The first version he built used a fabric diffuser, but after a close encounter with a flaming steak, he switched over to commercial ceiling light diffusers cut down to size. We might have been tempted to keep going and try an “egg crate” style ceiling light panel for a the smaller pixel size, but [James] thinks he has reached the “good enough” point of this project. It’s certainly a fun build, and it looks very cool with minimal materials.

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A black chandelier that looks somewhat like a fern frond. It has four lights arranged roughly in a circle around the curly end and two clustered near the tail. It is mounted on a dark wood panel ceiling.

Put A Constellation In Your Dining Room

We love lamps here at Hackaday, especially if they imitate natural light sources. [Scott McIndoe] used his love of lamps to fashion a chandelier replicating his favorite constellation, the Southern Cross.

Starting with the Southern Cross’s four major stars and the pointers of Alpha and Beta Centauri, [McIndoe] sketched out a breaking wave form between the six stars to form the spine of this light source. By using smart bulbs for each of the six star positions, he was able to set a scene that replicates the color and relative brightness of each star for that extra astronomical touch.

The top and bottom of the chandelier is laser cut from 3 mm plywood and fitted together using glue and finger joints while the sides are a wood veneer. The entire piece was sanded and coated with a bit of filler before painting. Mounting is accomplished using three eye hooks mounted on the top side of the chandelier.

If you want more celestial lamps, check out [McIndoe]’s previously-featured analemma chandelier or this lithophane moon lamp.

Chandelier Mimics The Solar Analemma

The solar analemma is the shape the sun traces out when photographed each day at the same time and same location for a whole year – but you probably knew that already. [makendo] decided to use this skewed figure-eight shape as the inspiration for a chandelier, and the results are stunning.

A laser cutter was used to cut out segments of the analemma shape in plywood, such that they could slot together into the full form. These were then glued together on to a plywood sheet as a template to cut out the full-size form in a single piece. Some laminate edging was then added and the entire thing was given a coat of black gloss paint. String lights were cut up to provide the many globe fittings required, and installed on the back of the chandelier.

[makendo] notes that with a full 51 bulbs in the chandelier, it’s way too bright for most dining room settings. A dimmer is thus used to tone down the output to reduce eyestrain at mealtimes. It’s a fun build, and we’ve always loved light fixtures that are inspired by astronomy. If you like the moon more than the sun, though, there’s a build for you too!

image of two floor lamps, one cool and one hot,

Customized Work-From-Home Lighting

[Jon] wants his home office lighting to mimic the light outside, at least from a color perspective. To that end, he has embarked on a design which monitors both the outdoor light and at his work station, and accordingly drives a pair of LED lamps of different colors. One lamp is rated at above 5000 K and provides “cool” lighting, , and the other is rated at less than 3000 K for “warm” lighting.

Block diagram of the system, light sensors indoor and outdoors are connected to a primary controller, and the primary controller is connected to a lighting controller driving one cool and one warm light bulb.

Commercial solutions do exist, but they are proprietary and do this within a single bulb and seem difficult to control in an orchestrated manner throughout the house. [Jon] plans for his approach to be scalable, eventually consisting of a variety of lighted areas of the house from a single microcontroller.

One of the design goals for this project is to create something that could disappear into the room, rather than the science fair aesthetic of my prior project.

One commenter on his project’s site asked why [Jon] is doing this, that is, what is the value of controlling the color of your indoor lighting? While [Jon] doesn’t have a specific goal in mind at the moment, he notes that these techniques could potentially be helpful for enhancing productivity, managing circadian rhythms, and as light therapy for seasonal depression.

We covered [Jon]’s science-fair-like project that in this writeup from last year. If the topic interests you, check out the white papers he links on his project page for further reading.