Sriram Creator of geeky things, mostly unused junk

OpenLights Art Project

OpenLights Art Project

What an interesting year the last one has been… AI is everywhere. Software Development, Writing and Art are all being affected by generative AIs.

Althought everything in the digital world is moving faster than people can follow, there is a certain reward in taking things slow and creating things that satisfy the hunger of building something physical from scratch. Some day I hope to have a large workshop to make things in wood and metal. However, owning three 3D printers and a laser cutter limits me to things in plastic and thin wood sheets.

I was playing around with some addressable LEDs and was really amazed at how easy it was to make something cool. For Christmas 2022, I made the tree topper star with an LED panel I 3D printed, and used WLED as the software to display a Mario Star.

Christmas Tree Topper

This was the best picture I could get of it, for some reason phone cameras in 2022 still turn into potatoes in the dark.

WLED was an amazing discovery. I created a bunch of different addressable LED based light designs soon after and had a lot of fun making them.

A few months later, while listening to an excellent episode on Software Engineering Radio (Ep. 559: Ross Anderson on Software Obsolescence), I realized that I owned smart lights from more than 5 brands in my house. Every time I want to buy more, there always seems to be a new brand from a new manufacturer controlled by using yet another account. These servers will definitely go offline before these LEDs stop working, and I will end up with a lot of really dumb lights. So I decided to make all my light designs open source and include instructions and bill-of-materials for the parts and publish them on the OpenLights Art Project website. With this, my aim is to create a community of open source lights that you can build yourself, and modify and update at any time, without worrying about technology obsolescence.

The first of these designs is the Beacon.

It is a portable design that can be printed with about 100g of PLA, and customized with a laser cutter. I hope to upload the BOM, and instructions for this shortly, and I hope you enjoy building one for yourself, or for friends and family!

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