SciFi Lights

Filled under: Electronics, Fabrication, Projects

Date posted: June 9, 2011


SciFi Lights was inspired by the flashing lights of computer consoles found in classic science fiction television shows and movies. Being a product of the advanced digital era, I thought the lighting patterns generated by the computer consoles had no purpose beyond easy to implement special effects. Once I began learning about low level computer architecture I found out those seemly random lights actually do have purpose. They are bits on data buses and data registers for debugging, neat!

With my newly built CNC router table, freshly acquired solid wood planks, and extra 5050 LEDs I began creating SciFi Lights.

A quick video before the pictures:


First step, drawing the design in CAD. The dimensions are 36″ tall, 5.6″ wide, and 0.75″ thick.


The machine paths laid out in the CAM.


A simulation verifying for part correctness.


Not quite sure why I attached the full length of the plank to the CNC.


Almost finished cutting.


Assembly took a few hours.


The MCU, darlington arrays, voltage regulator, and supporting electronics soldered on a circuit board cut on my CNC router.


A neat shot taken while playing around with camera aperture settings.


The three control buttons.


Showing the general texture of the wood after staining.


The texture of the wood after staining came out rather odd. This being my first time working with maple wood I did not realize the importance of the correct sanding process. The dark area between the main grain strokes are mostly created by a lack of fine sanding. It’s one of those things that looks good to some and horrible to others.


The LEDs are 14 sections of 5050 150 LED/m strips in amber driven by two ULN2003A darlington transistor arrays. The MCU PIC24k20 clocked at 64MHz @ 3.3 volts. There are three control buttons that allows the selection of 10+ lighting patterns and speed. The center button activates a special control mode that demos my favorite patterns.


To be posted.


Truly, one of my favorite pieces!