Neopixel Shelf

In these days of video calling in place of any other social contact, I've seen a lot of excellent video backgrounds. Perhaps I'm old-fashioned but I went the traditional route, and set up my computer close to a wall (so you can't see the mess in the room) and added a nice pinboard behind me. I looked a bit flat against the wall though, so I did what anyone else would do ... and built a handmade wooden shelf with neopixels in it!

webcam's eye view, showing radiator, shelf with blue lights, and pinboard above

According to Instagram, I published pictures there in April, but I realised when streaming (about controlling my LEDs while streaming, obviously!) that I had never written the blog post about this project. So, here goes :)

I started with a leftover bit of aborted piano stool project. This is lockdown, so buying wood is not easy and I love repurposing things anyway.

reclaimed wood with dowels sticking out and glue in patches

I pulled out (or cut off) the dowels, then cut the piece into two wider pieces (I needed to join bits to make the length of shelf I needed) and faced them. To join, I drilled into the ends and used dowels and glue to hold things together. Using dowel punches makes this step easier but I still had to re-face the finished product as it didn't perfectly align.

Ours is a rather period home (technically it's Edwardian) so everything has twiddly edges! I routed a pretty edge onto my self, and then also routed a groove near the back of the shelf for the neopixels to sit in so that their light, but not really they, can be seen.

Shelf top, with routed edges and the groove for the lights

With the last of the remaining top and some shelf supports cut by my handy bystanding CNC owner, I was ready to assemble the main part of the shelf. Using a solid back like this makes everything super sturdy and also gives me an easy way to hang the shelf on the wall with keyhole hangers.

shelf and supports clamed in a really chaotic workshop

Looking back at these photos reminds me that the workshop was really chaotic earlier this year, we had a lot of new tools delivered literally as lockdown was announced, but we were also storing a bunch of things for family who had just moved. The space is much easier to use now, as you can tell from these shots, things were quite cramped at one point!

Anyway, add the neopixels and a microcontroller (I'll write about that bit in another post, it's an ESP8266 running Lua), add support for sending different colours over MQTT from the streamdeck on your desk and here you have it:

Shelf with LEDs, now on the wall

I don't write much about my woodwork or craft projects on my blog these days, it's very software-oriented, but since I'll also be sharing more of the software side of this project I thought I'd start by sharing the shelf itself! Do you have a low-tech background for videos? I would love to know :)


Also published on Medium.

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