LED Bridge Lamp Base

As I worked out the details of my version of the LED Bridge Lamp by my friend Janis (Opossums) Jakaitis, one of the things I wanted to tweak was the base.

The modifications I focused on were:

  1. Lower the risk — the original base was a very large piece that would take about 25 hours to print and if something failed that would be a lot of time and material to lose so I broke my version of the model into pieces
  2. The slots/vents were slightly asymmetrical so I made my own variant of that so I could print on the side and keep the lines clean compared to printing them vertically
  3. I needed a way to handle height differences in the surface where I’d install the light * *

** The location in my cubicle at work where I wanted to to install this light has two different heights — the metal wall is about 1.5 inches higher than the top of bookcase so I needed a way to compensate for that. My solution will allow you to handle any reasonable height difference you want to tackle.

Here is a finished and an exploded view of the bases: 

Figure 1: All the parts that make up an Enhanced LED Bridge Lamp base
Figure 1: All the parts that make up an Enhanced LED Bridge Lamp base

While my bases look very similar to Janis’ models they were created from scratch but designed to emulate the originals and add a few new features you’ll see as we walk through this post. I also eliminated a few design details like the screw holes (replaced by my magnet solution) and the transition to the cap piece.

Print Details

What did you wind up printing? (Quantities are for what I built, you may need to change them to meet your needs) 

  • Qty 2: Side (side.stl)
  • Qty 2: Side with Power Outlet (SideWithPowerOutlet.stl)
  • Qty 2: Electronics Tray (Electronics_Tray.stl)
  • Qty 1: Base Height Spacer (Base_Height_SpacerV2.stl)
  • Qty 1: Base Height Spacer Tall  (Base_Height_Spacer_TallV2.stl)
  • Qty 2: Magnet Space Filler Block (Magnet_Space_Filler_Block.stl)
  • Qty 2: Center — the core of the base (Center.stl)
  • Qty 2: Cap (cap.stl)
  • Qty 2: Baseplates (BasePlateMamaWithCableHoleV2.stl)
  • Qty 3: Clips (ClipV2Loose.stl)
  • Qty 2: Foot Height Extensions (This STL can be found in Janis’ lamp here)

Material Used: Polymaker Polylite PLA in ‘True Grey’ 

Print Settings:

  • I printed all the side parts with a brim to decrease the likelihood of warping
  • 20% infill, 0.25mm layer height
  • 210C Nozzle Temp

Additional Supplies: 

  • Qty 4: 90lb Neodymium Cup Magnets
  • Qty 4: M4 Flathead Machine Screws
  • Qty 8: M4 Machine Screws (double up the nuts so they don’t back off — or add a lock nut)
  • Qty 8: Hex Button Head Machine Screws to secure base sections to each other
  • Loctite 401 Glue

Build Details / Notes: 

Printing a side of the base
Printing a side of the base

When printing the pieces called out in the print details section above I printed all my pieces with a brim to help reduce or eliminate warping.

Printing the electronics tray with a brim
Printing the electronics tray with a brim

The elements of an assembled base (1 regular side, 1 side with power outlet hole, center, cap, riser and base plate) are designed to fit inside/on top of this electronics tray. The tray is designed to also secure an Adafruit 1/2 size Perma-Proto board which is what I used to house the electronics that control this project. (More details on that in an upcoming post) The tray also provides supports for the height spacer which keeps the magnets in the proper location.

NOTE: You may want to print the tray 1-2% larger in the X and Y dimensions. Otherwise you may find yourself using a fixed belt sander to thin things out a bit. Guess how I know that? 😉 And my machine is really pretty well dialed in.

Electronics Tray Rendering
Electronics Tray Rendering

The height spacers below were designed to align themselves under the electronics tray via the little standoffs you can see in the image below. The height spacer also keeps the magnets secured as the base gets moved around.

Height Spacer
Height Spacer

The height spacer can be extruded to make it as tall or short as you want.  The spacer above is the minimum height as it is the same thickness as the 90lb strength magnets.

Height Spacer (Tall)
Height Spacer (Tall)

As you can see above, extruding this model to make it taller is straightforward. (You can do it by editing the model or in a pinch you can scale the z axis as needed and trim the alignment tabs if they get too tall as a result of the Z scaling)

Magnet Spacer
Magnet Spacer

For taller spacers I also designed a filler block to make up the space between the magnet and the bottom of the electronics tray. The model can also be scaled in the Z axis to adjust the height.

Assembling the base
Assembling the base

The electronics tray also makes a helpful aligner as you glue up the base pieces. I used some small clamps to hold the sides and center together as the glue dries — only takes about 1 minute to dry enough.

NOTE: Be careful that you don’t glue your base into the electronics tray.

In the lower half of the picture above you’ll see the baseplate sitting upside down in the height riser so that I could glue the blue clips in place. Once the clips are secure I flipped the plate over and glued it on top of the height riser block.

Base plate with clips glued in place and glued to the height riser block
Base plate with clips glued in place and glued to the height riser block

NOTE: The base plate on one side does NOT require the clips.

Be sure to test fit your bridge section and the two plates and file as needed to make sure you have a good snug fit. Filing usually meant squaring up the underside of the clip to make sure it squarely engages with the bridge superstructure section.

Testing out the base
Testing out the base

The base plate is glued to the top of the height riser. That assembly is glued to the cap piece (it has a nice indent in there to make alignment easy) and that second assembly is glued to the top of the base (center, side and side with power outlet hole)

Completed base pieces (angle)
Completed base pieces (angle)

You can insert M3 button head screws into the holes shown below to secure the top section of the base to the electronics tray. The screws tap themselves into the plastic and hold well.

Completed base pieces (side)
Completed base pieces (side)

Examining the underside of an assembled base section you can see how well the magnets fit.

NOTE: Use two nuts on top of the screw securing each magnet so they don’t get loose.

I installed the electronics into the taller of the bases and drilled a small hole to allow the USB cable to pass through so I could flash new firmware onto the micro controller after the lamp was installed.

Assembled base with button head screws installed and testing the wiring
Assembled base with button head screws installed and testing the wiring

If you have any questions about building the base, please let me know in the comments section  below.

You can navigate back to the Enhanced LED Bridge Lamp Summary here. 

Take care,
-Bill Rainford
@TinWhiskerzBlog
@TheRainford

 

LED Bridge Lamp Summary

As an engineer I love all things that are shiny and blinky. Like many other engineers I am a cubicle dweller. I wanted to create something in my cube that would brighten up my workspace and make me smile whenever I’m working there. What follows is a series of posts that will guide you through how I designed and built my version of the LED Bridge Lamp which is based off of the LED Bridge Lamp (Universal Segment) by my friend Janis (Opossums) Jakaitis on Thingiverse here. It was a great looking project and would be the perfect addition to any cubicle in need of some blinky.

Side view of my LED Bridge Lamp running a rainbow animation.
Side view of my LED Bridge Lamp running a rainbow animation.

High Level Summary of Changes:

  • Universal Segment Bridge Lamp with 2 horizontal (straight) sections
  • Custom mini light up billboard at the top of the bridge
  • Custom light shades with enclosed channels
  • Custom designed bases with integrated 90lb magnets and adjustable heights for uneven surfaces
  • Custom wifi enabled electronics to control the display
  • Custom power supply with enclosure
  • Each LED strip (2 in the bridge and 1 in the sign) an be controlled independently

 

LED Bridge Lamp Animations Video on Vimeo

LED Bridge Lamp Animations Video on YouTube

3D Models

You can find the 3D models I used to build this project on Thingiverse here. They are free to download, use and modify.

How long did this take to build?

  • Base Height Spacer Tall (Qty 1) 6:40 min (PLA)
  • Base Height Spacer (Qty 1) 2:07 min (PLA)
  • Base Side (Qty 2) 4:15 min each (PLA)
  • Base Side With Power Outlet (Qty 2) 4:15 min each (PLA)
  • Base Center (Qty 2) 5:09 min each (PLA)
  • Base Plate Mama with Cable Hole (Qty 2) 49 min each (PLA)
  • Base Cap Plate (Qty 2) 1:12 min each (PLA)
  • Clips (Qty 3) 10 min each (PLA)
  • Base Height Extension (Qty 2) 3:07 min each (PLA)
  • Electronics Tray (Qty 2) 4:06min (PLA)
  • Magnet Space Filler Block (Qty 2) 1:06 min each (PLA)
  • Sign Holder (Qty 1) 54 min (PLA)
  • LED Light Channel Segment A (Qty 14) 1:33 min each (nGen)
  • LED Light Channel Segment A with Wire Cutout (Qty 2) 1:32 min each (nGen)
  • LED Light Channel Segment B (Qty 16) 1:33 min each (nGen)
  • Straight LED Light Channel with Cover  (Qty 2) 2:47 min each (nGen)
  • Universal Segment Curved Superstructure Set (Qty 16) 2:42 min each (PLA)
  • Universal Segment Straight Superstructure Set (Qty 2) 2:25 min each (PLA) — light channel from set deleted for this print

Total Number of Pieces: 74
Total Print Time: 145 hours!

Estimated 3D Modeling/Design Time: 50 hrs 
Estimated Assembly Time: 12 hrs
Estimated Coding Time: 4 hrs
Estimated Testing Time: 12 hrs

Total Time:  223 hours 

NOTE: The above does not include printing another 25 segments of straight superstructure and light shades, misprints, having 8 segments of assembled PLA superstructure melt by being too close to a radiator, test prints and re-prints. I estimate that I have something around 300 hours into this project.

Build Details (This section will be updated as I publish more related posts):

Take care,
-Bill
@TinWhiskerzblog

For additional posts related to this project check out this the ‘LED Bridge Lamp’ tag. I’ll be adding more posts giving details on how I built my version of the LED Bridge Lamp.

LED Bridge Lamp Superstructure

The superstructure of the LED Bridge Lamp is one of its most prominent features. I printed mine using Polymaker Polylite Translucent Blue filament.

I started off by printing the standard set of flat printing models from Janis’ universal segment version of the lamp here. I also printed a set of the aligner/clamping rings that aid in assembly.

Printing a single set of the original bridge superstructure along with the aligners/clamps
Printing a single set of the original bridge superstructure along with the aligners/clamps

When I started working on this project it was the middle of winter and I think a combination of room temp and small surface areas caused some issues with pieces warping and even popping off the heated bed plate.

Printing two straight sections of bridge superstructure
Printing two straight sections of bridge superstructure

To remedy this I started printing the superstructure sections with a brim. Around this time I also started to eliminate the printing of the original shade. In Cura I broke the model (which was a group of pieces) into its pieces and would delete the shade. This also allowed me to fit a few more pieces on the build plate. I decided to make my own lamp shade/diffuser which I will cover in another post.

Printing two sets of bridge superstructure with a brim and without the shade
Printing two sets of bridge superstructure with a brim and without the shade

I would clean up the prints with an X-acto knife and square mill file. Each section didn’t need much cleanup. Most of the work was spent testing the tabs on each section and making sure it fit securely onto another section. The focus usually was making sure the corners were flat and that the tabs squarely locked over the end of the next section by filing the underside of the tab. Next I would dry fit the pieces in the assembly rings.

Once dry fit I would slide the top of the superstructure out a bit, apply a drop or two of LocTite 401 to the assembly tabs and slide the piece back into place. I would then remove the lampshade, run a bead of glue down the retaining lip on each side the superstructure and then slide the shade back in so the glue could set. After a minute or so the alignment rings could be removed and you can move on to the next section. By the time the next piece was filed and ready the last one was dry so I only needed one set of the rings.

Completed bridge section drying in the clamps
Completed bridge section drying in the clamps

Below you can see me testing a dry fitted piece against a completed straight section of bridge.

Testing to make sure each section fits well into the next
Testing to make sure each section fits well into the next

The above sample pieces have a translucent blue light shade from the original model, but as you’ll see in the upcoming post on the shades I went with an remix that I think you may also like.

Accumulating bridge sections to assemble
Accumulating bridge sections to assemble

As things got up and running I had a little production line going — churning out bridge sections and and assembling as I could find the time.

I wanted to get a feel for how big the lamp would be, beyond the calculated dimensions so I assembled 2/3 of an arc — just the assembled bridge sections without the shades.

Test assembly of the bridge superstructure sections
Test assembly of the bridge superstructure
sections

It was fun to see the project coming together. The above assembly I put to the side in the spare bedroom where I have my 3D printer etc. It was near a window and a baseboard radiator. Given that the PLA is extruded at 210C and at most my sealed baseboard radiator is putting out 100C I wasn’t worried about melting. After a few weeks I thought one of my young kids got to it, but as it turned out the PLA was softened by the sun and/or radiator and 9 assembled sections of the bridge lamp were warped/bent beyond what I was willing to accept so that was a big set back. After another 40 hours or so of printing I eventually replaced all those pieces and was careful to keep the lamp sections away from even that modest source of heat.

I started to stockpile the assembled bridge superstructure sections as I worked on the shades which will be covered in another post.

You can navigate back to the Enhanced LED Bridge Lamp Summary here. 

Take care,
-Bill Rainford
@TinWhiskerzBlog
@TheRainford

LED Bridge Lamp Power Supply

Next up in my series on building my own interpretation of Janis’ LED Bridge Lamp I wanted to share out my re-mix of his power supply cover/case.

3/4 view of completed power supply and case
3/4 view of completed power supply and case

In the original case, from the photos and models on Thingiverse it looked like Janis cut off the front of the case to attach the various plugs and switches. I also couldn’t find the exact same switch and plug so I decided to re-mix my over version.

Test print this sample to make sure it properly fits around your power supply. If it doesn't fit you can scale and re-print until you get it right.
Test print this sample to make sure it properly fits around your power supply. If it doesn’t fit you can scale and re-print until you get it right.

I started off with Janis’ solid bottom of the PSU cover. I bought the same 5V/20A power supply from AliExpress and printed the bottom. It fit great. I then imported his model into SketchUp and copied the outline/profile of his case. I extruded it 2mm and printed it as a test sample. This is useful for folks trying to scale the case up or down to get that tight friction fit — change your settings then print that test piece until you get the size you want — then use the same settings for the actual parts.

1jDEJGwmRMOCfFt+w2%ULg_thumb_194c9
Printed parts ready to go.

I extruded that test print model to be 80mm tall — this forms the majority of the cover. I also added a depth stop at 40mm and a carefully laid out two holes to receive the screws that secure the custom faceplate. This long extruded part with a stop gives me a positive depth stop and a reasonable amount of space in the enclosure to house all the wires, connections and backs of the connectors.

I also designed a separate faceplate with nice form fitting cutouts for the plugs, power inlet and switch. Print the cover face down as shown below:

Underside of Faceplate
Underside of Faceplate

The face of the above cover also has a nice recessed ‘5V’ to let potential users know what voltage we are outputting with this unit. The 110V/220V power inlet is secured with two M3 x 10mm screws and 2 nuts on each screw. The power button snaps into place with tabs. The metal barrel jacks are secured via a lock washer and nut that threads onto the barrel/body of the outlet. Make sure the PSU unit’s slide switch is set to the 110V or 220V input voltage you plan to provide.

All wires soldered in place and covered with heat shrink tubing
All wires soldered in place and covered with heat shrink tubing

All of the output port wires were 6″ long 22 gauge wire. The power inlet hot and neutral are routed through the power switch and the ground goes from the inlet to the ground on the PSU unit. I also used heat shrink tubing on each connection to protect the connections.

Attaching all the wires to the appropriate terminals
Attaching all the wires to the appropriate terminals

Route the wires through the extruded cover and attach them to the proper terminals, then slide the cover down until you hit the depth stop.

Testing the power supply. Notice plug inserted into a jack being tested with my multi-meter
Testing the power supply. Notice plug inserted into a jack being tested with my multi-meter

Now test your PSU using a multi-meter. I inserted an appropriately sized barrel top plug without its protective jacket to make it easier to attach the multi-meter probes. The output was exactly what I expected — a tiny bit above 5V. If you are under 5V you can adjust the output using a trim potentiometer on the PSU board to the right of the screw terminals. With the testing complete it was time to gently bend the wires and secure the faceplate with two M3 x 6mm machine screws.

Completed power supply with power on
Completed power supply with power on

With the PSU assembled and powered on it’s time to get back to working on the bridge lamp itself.

Side view of completed power supply case in black PLA
Side view of completed power supply case in black PLA

The Gray printed PSU cover from earlier in this post will live in my cubicle at work and power the main LED Bridge lamp I am making, but the secondary (smaller) LED bridge lamp I am making for home would look better in black PLA — as I think that will blend better with my black metal MakerBench.

Completed power supply in black PLA
Completed power supply in black PLA

If you’d like to make one of these PSU covers based on my remix you can find the models on Thingiverse here.

The inlets, outlets and supplies I used can be found here:

5V / 20A power supply

Copper DC Socket Jack

Panel Mounted Inlet Socket

Red Rocker Button Switch

DC Power Barrel Tip Plugs

Metric Machine Screws

If you build your own version of this project, please leave a comment or send me a note.

Take care,
-Bill
@TheRainford
@TinWhiskerzBlog

Trinket Powered LED RedHat Sign

My day job is working as a software developer for Redhat which is the world’s largest Open-Source software company. It’s a fun place to work with a vibrant culture — kinda like a geek summer camp at times — as many of us like to decorate our cubes with various nerdy projects, toys, artwork etc. I love to design and build things — check out my long running woodworking blog here for some of my designs and work with wood. As an engineer I also love to tinker with tech.

Early in 2016 I bought a Lulzbot TAZ6 for home and have been having fun getting involved in the Open-Source 3D printing, electronics and maker world. I also setup and run a 3D printing lab at work in the office.

A few months ago I designed and 3D printed a small Redhat logo which you can find on Thingiverse here.

Since then I have embarked on a more audacious building campaign to build my own interpretation of Janis’ LED Bridge Lamp. I want my bridge lamp to span from one wall of my cube to my bookcase  and incorporate some fun additions that I will reveal in upcoming posts.

On the road to this large design/print/build project I wanted to make neat mini billboard with the Redhat Shadowman logo that lights up and had some simple animations. The result of that work can be seen here:

Redhat Logo Sign Animated Rainbow Color
Redhat Logo Sign Animated Rainbow Color

I tripled the size of my original Redhat Shadowman logo in the x and y dimensions and printed the background in clear Colorfabb nGen filament. The letters, fedora and case are in black and red nGen filament. Every 2.01mm of z-axis height I would pause the print, swap, purge and resume the print which resulted in a nice 3 color print for the logo.

Remove supports so you can add the trinket
Remove supports so you can add the trinket

I designed the case so that it can be printed without any supports. Use a pair of nippers to remove the small bit of supports I added to the model (see photo above) which will allow you to easily access the USB port on the Adafruit Trinket which controls the LED strip.

The 3 color sign has 4 holes that snap nicely onto posts located on the inside of the bezel of the case. I don’t know why so many designers make the holes and posts the exact same size — it makes for unnecessary fussing with the print. I made my posts a few tenths of a millimeter narrower so I could snap on the logo without any fussing.

Back of case with negative image of Redhat logo
Back of case with negative image of Redhat logo

The back of the case also has a nice negative image of the Redhat Shadowman logo. The back also snaps nicely into the front section for clean lines and no need for additional hardware. nGen has enough flex in it that you can bend the case if you need to open it again in the future.

The circuit design is quite simple/straightforward:

Redhat Logo Sign -- Circuit Diagram -- Adafruit Trinket 5V + NeoPixels
Redhat Logo Sign — Circuit Diagram — Adafruit Trinket 5V + NeoPixels

Basically you are driving 10 NeoPixel RGB leds via an Adafruit Trinket 5V tiny arduino. I included the JST connection below in case I ever want to re-purpose bits from this project and because these LEDs were from the start of a new roll, so I figured I might as well use the cabling it came with in this case.

Completed circuit
Completed circuit

I used some 3M double sided tape to keep the wires secured and some M3 x 6mm screws to keep the Trinket mounted to the back of the case. The LED strip comes with some adhesive tape on the back to keep the strip in place. I find that tape on the strip to be a little fussy so make sure you clean/alcohol the inside of the case and firmly press/rub the strip to make sure it is well adhered.

Redhat Logo Sign in white
Redhat Logo Sign in white

The animations for this little prototype sign are pretty straight forward. The system comes up, does a wipe to make the sign glow white. After ~30 seconds it wipes to dark and then cuts over to 30 seconds of a pleasing rainbow animation. Then the loop repeats over and over again.

You can find the source code for this project on my GitHub account here. The animations could be easily augmented. You can create your own or re-use some of the animations from my earlier Adafruit Feather BLE + NeoPixel ring lamp.

Note that he regulator on a Trinket is only 500 milliamps so I make sure to limit the maximum brightness of the LED strip to make sure I don’t overload the system when the background is set to white.

If you’d like to download the STL models for the  Redhat Logo sign and case you can find them on Thingiverse here. If you build your own version of this project, I’d love to hear about it via a comment or contact page note.

Take care,
-Bill Rainford
@TinWhiskerzBlog
@TheRainford

Adabot Solder Dispenser

I had a bunch of solder floating around on my bench and figured I’d print out a solder dispenser and lo and behold I came across a new model for an Adabot Solder Dispenser and finally had a reason to print out my own little Adabot. Adabot is the main character in Adafruit’s Circuit Playground series of videos that teach kids and the young at heart about the basics of electronics through a mix of animation and cute muppet style puppetry.

Adabot Solder Dispenser
Adabot Solder Dispenser

I always wonder what the ‘official’ color of Adabot is supposed to be as in some Adafruit material it looks like he’s teal. In others, like the puppet, it looks like he’s a light blue. If anyone has the official answer, let me know. I printed mine from light blue n-Gen filament and in the featured image at the top of the page it looks blue, when washed out with a little more light it looks more teal (like the image immediately above) so I am going to call that a win.

Printing in light blue n-gen filament
Printing in light blue n-gen filament

After printing out all the parts I painted the antenna/ears and ring around the eyes with testers blue acrylic and the pupils with testers black acrylic paint. Assembly was straight forward with the eyes and mouth glued in place with CA glue and the ears glued to the ear connector pins. I inserted the pin and then glued the ear to the connector pins/studs.

In assembling this project I did run into a problem with the ear connectors (seen below)

Broken ear connectors (blue) and one that is 20% longer in the Z direction (white)
Broken ear connectors (blue) and one that is 20% longer in the Z direction (white)

I tried printing them at 20% fill and 85% fill and both times the pins cracked off when trying to insert them per the video instructions. I just don’t think there is enough clearance in there or enough give in the pins to make it work. The holes would need to have a relief chamfer in there to work. I thought about filing down the tabs on the pins, but figured that would make them even more likely to snap off. Since I already had the head printed I decided to instead extrude another set of ear connector pins that were 20% longer in the Z axis. (I first tried 25% but they were too long) . I also gently filed the ear holes on the head with a mill file  (only a pass or two) to make sure they were nice and flat so the ears would line up perfectly with the head. Once glued to the connectors the ears have the right amount of tension on them and can be rotated if you like.

Solder dispenser loaded up
Solder dispenser loaded up

The only drawback to my fix for the ears is that the connectors are now in the box cavity rather than wedged inside the holes for the ear connectors. So if I were to do this again I’d make sure the space in the pins was horizontal as in the pin on the right in the photo above as the way I have it the pin on the left puts a little pressure on the bottom reel of solder. But I can just use two of the green reels and be fine.

Adabot Solder Dispenser
Adabot Solder Dispenser

It was a fun little project and a nice addition to my bench. I think I am going to velcro it to my shelf so when I pull on the solder the friction doesn’t have me dragging the head all over the desk. If you’d like to build your old Adabot Solder Dispenser you can find the plans for here here on the Adafruit learning system.

-Bill Rainford
@TheRainford
@TinWhiskerzBlog

 

 

Star Wars Stormtrooper Snowflakes

Merry Christmas and my the force by with you!

Forrest moon of Endor or my Christmas tree these ornaments are right at home
Forrest moon of Endor or my Christmas tree these ornaments are right at home

In preparation for the holidays I printed some Star Wars Storm-trooper Snowflake ornaments.

Printing two at a time in white PLA
Printing two at a time in white PLA

You can find the model I used for this project here.

Storm Trooper Snowflake Ornaments in the office.
Storm Trooper Snowflake Ornaments in the office.

I printed them 2 at a time in white PLA. 2 for the office and 2 for our tree at home. It was a nice easy print and a fun and festive addition. Wow, typing that sentence I was apparently channeling some Martha Stewart. 😉

Storm Trooper Snowflake Ornaments on the tree
Storm Trooper Snowflake Ornaments on the tree

Happy Holidays and I look forward to even more maker projects in the new year.

Take care,
-Bill
@TinWhiskerzBlog

Adafruit Feather BLE + NeoPixel Lamp

Like any red blooded engineer I like nice designs, shiny objects and blinking lights. One of the projects that burrowed its way into my subconscious and helped push me over the edge into buying a 3D printer earlier this year was the Adafruit Feather BLE + NeoPixel lamp with 3D printed Voronoi Shade that plays some animations by the Ruiz Brothers over at Adafruit. It’s a great addition to any office desk or maker workbench. After playing with the sample code which simply played a short animation when you pressed a button in the app I decided to augment the code to continuously play animations and add a few more to the mix.

Feather BLE light paired with iOS app
Feather BLE light paired with iOS app

You can view detailed step/by step instructions on printing this lamp  here on the Adafruit Learning System.  What follows in this post is a description of what changes/modifications I made to the build and additional functionality I added into the software running on the Bluefruit Feather.

Check out this video showing what I did with the software for this project here:

Software Revision Highlights:

  • Currently selected animation will loop continuously without interruption (Original sample plays 1 animation and stops until another button is pressed)
  • Cleaned up animation library/methods, fixed some issues with Adafruit sample code and finished off some incomplete methods
  • Added additional animations to the up, down, left and right buttons in the Adafruit Bluetooth application

You can find the source code for the demo used in the video here on GitHub.

3D Print complete, not gather up the required electronics
3D Print complete, now gather up the required electronics

Notes on Building This Project: 
I printed the base out of ABS filament and the Voronoi shade from light blue translucent PLA filament. I chose not to glue the shade onto the top ring of the base as I like to be able to show off the electronics. I friction fit the clear disk into the bottom of the lampshade so it stays securely as one piece. I also omitted the battery as I only plan to run the lamp in an office setting wherein I have access to plenty of USB ports.

Solder and assemble the light
Solder and assemble the light

BIG NOTE: As this caused me some headaches and wasted time. In the Adafruit Learning System write-up for this lamp, make sure to follow the Fritzing circuit diagram here and NOT from the step by step photograph here. The photograph shows one of the blue wires going into ‘BAT’ and not the expected ‘3V’. You should be powering the NeoPixels off the 3V pin.  

Flash the firmware and test the rig before final assembly of the case.
Flash the firmware and test the rig before final assembly of the case.

Once I finished all the soldering I fit the board, wires and ring into the bottom half of the base and flashed the firmware onto the device and made sure it lit up and worked as expected.

Lid screwed in place to help secure the NeoPixel ring
Lid screwed in place to help secure the NeoPixel ring

Next up I screwed on the top half of the base and started working on the animations I wanted to use and assigned them to various buttons in the Adafruit ‘Bluefruit’ application.

Running animations
Running animations

Last up was testing the completed lamp. It lights up a dark room more that I expected which is nice and is clearly visible in a well lit room. Some of the animations in the above video are far better in person as the DSLR tends to blend a lot of the mixed colors into shades of white — you’ll have to see it in person by building your own.

Red alert, incoming message
Red alert, incoming message

With the above lamp completed you can also tie it into the IfThisThenThat (IFTTT.com) ecosystem via Adafruit IO.  IFTTT allows Internet of Things (IoT) devices to react to a surprisingly large amount of interesting stimuli — if you get a certain type of email, if your phone shows up on your home wifi network, if an IoT sensor gets a certain reading your device and react to that message and carry out your desired task — its an incredible system and will be the focus of my next post, stay tuned.

-Bill
@TinWhiskerzBlog

P.S. If you build your own variant of this project, please leave a comment and share your thoughts and modifications.

Don’t filet your thumb….

Note to self, don’t filet your thumb. A couple of weeks ago I was cleaning up a 3D print with an X-acto knife. It was one of the more intricate pieces of a 6 speed automatic transmission. As a professionally trained woodworker and long time maker I’ve spent 20+ years around very large, sharp and potentially dangerous tools.

Cleaning up a large print....
Cleaning up a large print….

I got home from work at a decent time for a rare change and was cleaning up a print as I waited for my wife to get home from work. In trying to free up a printed in place joint I had a brand new X-acto knife blade shatter. I was holding the gear in my left hand and the knife in my right and pulled off an impressive feat — I was able to deeply lacerate my right hand thumb!

Getting into the details with an X-acto knife
Getting into the details with an X-acto knife

It didn’t hurt at first and I thought it was just a light cut, but wow it was bleeding. It was not until I rinsed it in the sink that I realized how big and how deep the cut was — my thumb was filleted open and I could see veins etc — the worst cut I ever gave myself.  I washed and packed it down as I frantically paced waiting for my wife to get home and as I used one hand to get my 2 year old son and 7 month old son ready  for a trip to the emergency room. It was not how I wanted to spend my Friday night. The result was 12 stitches in the skin and 3 more in the muscle to put my thumb back together. This ended my hand modeling career. 😦

12 stitches on the outside and 3 more in the muscle.
12 stitches on the outside and 3 more in the muscle.

Why are you telling me about your self mangling adventure? 

I’ve never had great timing. About 2 days after the above incident I got an email from the folks at NoCry who manufacture “Cut Resistant Protective Work Gloves with Rubber Grip Dots” and they offered me some gloves to try out. I wish they found me a week earlier, but given my recent set of stitches, I definitely wanted to try them out.

Testing with the same model X-acto and fresh blade from the same box as the one that shattered and slashed my thumb
Testing with the same model X-acto and fresh blade from the same box as the one that shattered and slashed my thumb

The first thing that I thought about when I envisioned a cut resistant glove was the heavy chainmail style carving glove like what Lee Valley sells here. I’ve looked at them in the past, but at $89/glove the price was prohibitive.

I checked out the NoCry gloves website here http://www.cutresistantgloves.org/ and read up on how they work. The fabric in these gloves is woven from a mixture of stainless steel, polyethylene, glass fiber and spandex.

Little gun shy at first but pressing quite hard and attempting to cut....
Little gun shy at first but pressing quite hard and attempting to cut….

The gloves are designed to take at least 5 cuts in the same exact area   with a reasonable solid amount of pressure before you’d be able to cut through them.

Long cut with a freshly sharpened Leatherman Surge
Long cut with a freshly sharpened Leatherman Surge

I tried cutting the gloves with the same x-acto knife that cut up my thumb, along with a freshly sharpened Leatherman Surge, a classic Swiss Army knife and a few other sharp instruments I had at my maker workbench.

You can see the lines left from earlier attempts to cut into the glove.
You can see the lines left from earlier attempts to cut into the glove.

I was impressed with how well the gloves fared. On some of the harder tests (pressing hard and trying to slice through the fabric) you can see some lines where I made inroads into the fabric after a couple of repeated cuts, but it definitely would have helped protect my thumb if I had them when that X-Acto blade snapped on me.

To see the sort of slicing I attempted in action you can watch this YouTube video from the company here.

Having said that, do note that they are not impenetrable — meaning something sharp and pointed like an skinny awl or a puncture from say the tip of an X-Acto knife pressing straight in on the point could likely get through some of the knitting, but the far more dangerous slicing laceration is well protected.  The palm side of the glove also has a nice tight array of silicon dots that help you keep a grip on whatever you are holding. The dots worked well even when I sliced through a few to see if they’d fall off.

The textured buttons really aid the grip.
The textured buttons really aid the grip.

I’m 6′-1.5″ inches tall and have large hands. Based on their sizing chart I got a size Large and found the gloves to be the perfect size. For me gloves usually are too short in the fingers or too tight or way too big. They seemed to stretch well and are machine washable.

At $15.99/pair on Amazon as of the time of this post they quite reasonably priced and a worthwhile investment/insurance policy for your hands.  If you’d like to try them out you can find them on Amazon here.

After my thumb incident and since writing this post I’ve used these gloves regularly as I clean up 3D prints and I’ve continued to be happy with them.  If you get a pair and try them out, please leave a comment below and let me know what you thought of them.

Take care,
-Bill
@TheRainford

P.S. I do not work for the NoCry company nor was I paid for the above post beyond noting that  they did provide me with gloves to test.

Crate it up…

I’ve wanted to try using wood filament for quite a while, but the price for it was generally more than I was willing to pay for it.

Wood Crates -- Printed in PLA with wood fiber in it.
Wood Crates — Printed in PLA with wood fiber in it.

My friend Adam told me about a company calls SainSmart on Amazon that has good quality filaments at a reasonable price. I ordered a few colors of PLA including a roll of their Dark Wood 3mm PLA filament which you can find here.

Printing a few crates at a time
Printing a few crates at a time

The filament worked out great and has a nice woody look.  It even makes a bit of a wood/sawdust smell as it prints. (Probably terrible for your lungs so make sure to work in a well ventilated area with any 3D printer).

These crates became a bit of an addiction. I printed 1, then another, then another, then a series of 3 of them.  It’s a well detailed little model and even has the wood slats modeled on the interior bottom (though from a woodworking perspective a real wood crate would not have that brace on the inside bottom, but I’ll let that slide 😉 )

These crates work great for background props and SD card storage.
These crates work great for background props and SD card storage.

They print well with no supports at all, but had a very tiny bit of warping at the corners. By printing a brim I felt the warping was sufficiently negated. I used Gorilla brand CA glue to adhere that little square to the underside of the lid (keeps the lid from sliding off the top of the crate).

I figure these crates will make nice background props when photographing other toys or prints and for the more practical minded maker they also work well as a nice SD card holder that can accommodate full size SD cards. They stand nicely inside the crate with the lid in place.

Take care,
-Bill
@TinWhiskerzBlog

 

Electronics, Maker Projects, 3D Printing, Social Learning