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(Dec 2012)
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(July 2012)

An Internet Controlled RGB Night Light

There are moments when we step away from serious projects and experiment with new tools, materials and ideas. This project falls into a fun category however, we do hope that it could be of some interest for the DIY community. For quite some time we were thinking about making an original birthday present and finally chose the idea of a night light. The light was meant to be a silhouette of an animal or a person mounted on a wall and glowing in the dark. It would be also very nice to be able to control brightness and colour in easy manner, probably by a mobile phone rather than by a specialised remote control. After doing a quick research it has been established that there were a lot of dimmable RGB LED controllers with either Bluetooth or WiFi interfaces available. In case of WiFi a controller simply integrated into existing wireless infrastructure and became a truly IOT device controllable not only from local network but from outside, trough the Internet. However, the idea wasn’t novel and we still had to give to our night light original look. We went trough tons of pictures and finally found the one which most suited to the receiver of the present, it was a silhouette of a girl and a dog.

Having decided to use a laser cutting service we obviously couldn’t upload a raster picture to the service provider and first needed to convert the picture into a vector image format. This was easily achieved by an opensource software called Inkscape. The procedure turned out to be extremely simple, after loading a jpeg image all that needed to be done was ‘Path-Trace Bitmap’ dropdown menu and a vector image was ready for further manipulations as shown on the picture below:

Girl And Dog Composition, Raster Traced Into Vector

Next step was to prepare a template for Ponoko using their standards. Instead of ordering just one silhouette we decided to pick a bigger blank and make more than one night light. Of course, all of them had to be original so we repeated the previous search two more times and came up with different pictures. It took some significant effort to fit all of them without overlapping but it was ultimately achieved. The final result ready for laser cutting order is shown below:

Night Light Figures Template For Laser Cutting

As a controller we decided to use the one capable of driving RGB LEDs, dimmable and with WiFi interface. The unit has a good software support which covers both iOS and Android platforms. There are timers to switch the lights on and off at specific times, colour mixing and transitioning effects and even an option to flash the lights in rhythm with a soundtrack being played by a mobile phone. And most importantly, it is cheap, just 14 dollars with free shipment!

WiFi RGB LED Controller

Another aspect of the design was the way of mounting the lights on a wall. We did several design iterations starting from a bulky controller holder which had mounting holes in it but finally reduced the structure to just a few back supports which looked like dubmbbells. The back supports were designed in FreeCAD, converted into STL format and then 3D printed:

Back Support visualised by STLView

The first design actually exhibited a problem with plastic we chose – it was not totally opaque and the light was coming through. This is why we put a layer of self-adhesive foil mirror and fitted the LEDs and the controller with a double sided adhesive tape. However, it didn’t work for the back supports so we ended up gluing them with epoxy. The fully assembled night light is shown below:

Finished Girl And Doggy Night Light Reversed Side View`

The night light in action is shown below:

Girl And Doggy Night Light In Action

The bill of materials is rather expensive for this night light but we were focused on originality rather than on cost. There are many ways to bring the cost down by carefully choosing the right materials and laser cutting service.

Bill of materials
Item Price, Australian $
Lasercutting service including materials and shipping (sourced from Ponoko) 63.42*
Wireless Wifi RGB LED Strip Light Controller For IOS Android Phones DC 12V/24V, Ebay item 252902344423 17.99
60x100cm DIY Self Adhesive Foil Mirror Decals, Ebay item 222497290178 16.89
5050 SMD 3 RGB LED Module Waterproof IP65, Ebay item 252706573302 13.93
Switchmode Mains Adaptor 12VDC 2.5A (Source from Jaycar) 29.95
Back supports, 3D printed, design files are provided below, 4 or 6 items depending on the design N/A
Total 142.18
*the design actually contains three different night lights, this is why it is so expensive


1.Design of three night lights prepared specifically for Ponoko laser cutting service
2.3D model of a back support, STL format
3.3D model of a back support, FreeCAD format