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Project by JoshLawson posted 04-21-2015 02:23 AM 3019 views 9 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

As part of my bunk bed set I built for my kids, I decided to also do a light on the wall above each head board, but I couldn’t do just any old light, it had to be a wifi enabled micro controller powered RGB LED strip light! My wife would describe might describe this as “unnecessary” or a “waste of money”, but as you, the astute reader can see, I really had no choice, and honestly a light as bright as a collapsed sun always inspires good sleep for your children.

I’d had my eye on Adafruit NeoPixel strips for a project for some time, and just recently a new Arduino microcontroller variant came out that was wi-fi enabled, the Arduino Yun. Someday I’ll probably get around to posting a How to on, but for this audience, I’ll leave out the majority of the nerdy things I had to accomplish to have a light that will let me do any color on any LED—but it does provide a nice medium for various operating modes. I have a “night light” automatically timed mode that syncs time with a web time provider, reading light mode, and a visible alarm that slowly brightens when it’s time to wake up.

The primary medium for this project was a piece of 8/4 walnut I had laying around the shop, I cut a number of grooves in the walnut to allow a space for the LED strip and wiring, then capped it with Aluminum to give it a modern look.

Hope you like it!

Here’s some info about the bunkbed:
Click for details

-- Josh Lawson - Ankeny, Iowa

16 comments so far

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


5702 posts in 2610 days

#1 posted 04-21-2015 03:39 AM


-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View mmh's profile


3677 posts in 3923 days

#2 posted 04-21-2015 03:40 AM

So, how do your kids like it???

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View iSentient's profile


2 posts in 1480 days

#3 posted 04-21-2015 04:08 AM

This is great. I’m only an Objective C programmer but wanting to get into something like the Arduino or Pi. I also have dozens of incredibly bright LED lights (Cree XML-U2 mostly).

View JoshLawson's profile


64 posts in 3205 days

#4 posted 04-21-2015 12:47 PM

mmh – The kids love it! Though there are constant requests to change the color…

iSentient – If you have any programming background the Arduino C-variant language is really easy to pick up, and definitely has a much smaller barrier to entry than the Raspberry Pi (I’ve used both). The arduino definitely opens up a huge new playground to do new projects.

-- Josh Lawson - Ankeny, Iowa

View Lazyman's profile


2631 posts in 1588 days

#5 posted 04-21-2015 01:43 PM

Arduino programability adds all kinds of options such automatic lights out. Add a noise sensor and flashing red lights for study time. Motion detector… The options are endless. You just need to add a few more features to cut down on the “unnecessary” complaints.

One question: How hot do these LED’s get when at full power?

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View JoshLawson's profile


64 posts in 3205 days

#6 posted 04-21-2015 02:02 PM

I was a bit concerned about the heat as well, the after a full heat soak of ~ 1 hr, they were warm to the touch, but definitely not uncomfortable to touch or anything where I would be concerned of a “thermal event” that the electronics industry worries about. I’m using Adafruit’s 5V 10 Amp power supply, which seems to work at full load without issue—though it does get warm as well.

I already have the automatic lights out during the night hours (configurable, but set to 10 minutes) where it’ll dim down to 5% brightness for the nightlight. Seems to work pretty well.

-- Josh Lawson - Ankeny, Iowa

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2570 days

#7 posted 04-21-2015 02:07 PM

and a visible alarm that slowly brightens when it’s time to wake up.

That’s pretty slick, I’d like one for reading in bed. That being said, what ever happened to busting in your kids room, flipping the light on and saying “If you’re not up in 5 minutes you’re going to be sorry.”

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View JoshLawson's profile


64 posts in 3205 days

#8 posted 04-21-2015 02:09 PM

Already got the visible alarm covered —it starts lighten from the outside edges 10 minutes before wake-up time, when it reaches the center, it’s time to get up!

But best of all, I can change it on the weekends over wifi to be later… and they’ll never know :).

-- Josh Lawson - Ankeny, Iowa

View GravyBones's profile


43 posts in 1333 days

#9 posted 04-21-2015 08:42 PM

Software engineer here likes it.


View JoeinGa's profile


7739 posts in 2208 days

#10 posted 04-21-2015 10:45 PM

Pretty cool, but how come only the top bunk gets the stars and planets? Bottom bunk guy gets left out :-)

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View nayo's profile


294 posts in 2093 days

#11 posted 04-22-2015 12:10 AM


View Dark_Lightning's profile


3342 posts in 3310 days

#12 posted 04-22-2015 12:12 AM

Nice setup! You may want to look into the need for less blue light as the day progresses towards sleep, and phase the light away from blue. Also, don’t use a blue night light, use a red one, for more restful sleep.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View JoshLawson's profile


64 posts in 3205 days

#13 posted 04-22-2015 12:31 AM

Someone else mentioned the red light at night thing at work today too—a few taps on my smartphone and done!

-- Josh Lawson - Ankeny, Iowa

View Tomoose's profile


422 posts in 3574 days

#14 posted 04-22-2015 04:26 AM

That is what my 80’s pals would call “totally rad!!”

Keep up the good work


-- “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” Pablo Picasso

View oldnovice's profile


7329 posts in 3569 days

#15 posted 04-22-2015 04:48 PM

Nice project, bringing electronics and woodworking together!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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