Lamp / Nightlight Project

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Nearing Completion
Born On:
14:27, 19 October 2019 (CDT)
Last Updated:
15:34, 26 October 2019 (CDT)


I had a piece of black cherry log in my shop that was well seasoned, so I decide to try and make something from it. My 3 year old really enjoys looking at colored lights, so I decided to make him a nightlight / lamp.

Imgur Gallery of Progress

I started by roughing out a cylinder on the wood lathe. I then used a drill press to make holes around the outside of that cylinder. After that I used a 2-part epoxy with a small amount of acrylic paint to fill the holes with different colors. Once that was all hardened, I returned to the wood lathe, turned the outside down, and hollowed out the interior. After much sanding it was finally smooth enough, and I coated the entire piece in a clear epoxy.

I then needed a base and cap for the lamp. I though about casting something out of epoxy or turning something out of wood, but I wanted something heavier than that so the sake of stability. I also wanted something that could act as a heat sink for the LEDs as well as a capacitive touch sensor. I decided to go with aluminum.

I was given some scrap aluminum, which I smelted down and poured into an empty tin can. After cooling, I used the metal lathe to turn it down into the desired shape. A few drill press holes later and the base is basically finished, with the exception of final finishing an polishing.

The light is an aluminum rod surrounded by LED strips. I used some large heat-shrink tubing to hold them on, as I didn't trust the adhesive backing to hold once things got a bit warm. Both ends of the rod are drilled and tapped wityh a 5/16-18 thread, which matches holes on the base and cap. These will be used to screw everything together.

I will be placing the electronics into the base of the lamp, and hopefully using the metal parts as a capacitive touch sensor for operation. I may (or may not) have two or three levels of brightness that it can be cycled through.

Update 10/16/2019: I have turned the cap, then polished both it and the base. Last night I finished the control board design in KiCad and etched the board. I populated and installed it today. My Atmel programmer is at home, so the final programming will have to wait.

Control Board Details

This was a relatively simple board, so I used a single sided blank to make it. It takes a 12vdc input, and regulates it down to 3v3 for the ATTINY13A microcontroller. It uses a mosfet driven by an PWM signal from the ATTINY to drive the LEDs, and will allow for multiple brighness levels. The ATTINY will also handle the touch sensing for control.