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Light Staff

RGB LED Staff, Massive light output. Portable Rave

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This project was created on 02/20/2014 and last updated 2 months ago.

Carbon fiber staff, 5.2 AH of 7.2v lipos, Voltage Regs, Teensy Controlled. ~6 m of 60 led/m addressable strip (black for style). Buttons for impact response in tip. Speed and brightness/mode controlled by push button encoders in the center handle.
Programmed by mpinner

Here's a quick video (vertical for enhanced staff aspect ratios


​This was a project a few months in the making. I originally started it while I was still at SpaceX but really got to focus on it right before burning man 2013. I really wanted an 8 ft long carbon fiber staff with a ton of full bright white capable RGB LEDs on it. (I'm a big guy so I wanted something that felt big enough for me).

It went through two major revisions. The first one had a .75" diameter core round carbon tube from dragonplate and was scaffolded over this with laser cut acrylic spacers.  The second revision had a 1" square carbon tube core from Pu-Feng, a custom routed carbon bridge piece/electronics enclosure in the center using v shaped clamping blocks to tie the two halves together. A polycarb cover was placed over the assembled staff to protect the LEDs.

If I had to do it again, I'd definately ditch the protective cover and try to move the LEDs inside the carbon (maybe a carbon truss structure as opposed to the tubes.) as it adds alot of weight and unnecessary complexity. 

First Revision prototype

 For the second prototype I scraped together some carbon tube from around the lab and got in on an order of 2811 addressable RGB LEDs via the local hackerspace Crashspace ( I think I originally ordered 10m or so, for ~ 300 dollars)  I got some 7.4v 2.6 AH packs with built in protection boards from batteryspace and some step down regs from Pololu for bringing the voltage down to 5v. 

Second staff:

Matt rigged up a teensy with a level translator to drive the LEDs ( I was originally using an arduino pro mini and adafruit's neopixel library, but the teensy was much better at high rate control of the LEDs). Then he added a couple of "modes" and a brightness/speed adjust paramter for the control knobs. I'll add a cool video and gif of the modes shortly


Project logs
  • New Models, New Parts, New Fun

    2 months ago • 0 comments

    It's been a bit busy but I've managed to scrounge together some new cad models and come up with a relatively cheap version of the staff (Many Thanks to mpinner for all the help along the way!). At less than 10 parts and only 6 3d printed parts basically anyone should be able to build one for ~ $200. It's even got a zigbee radio for communication with other staves and wireless programming.

    Should be fun (models are somewhat hazy, need a few more strips and such, I'm going to complete a build and post more instructions on exactitudes and some drawings so it's a bit cleaner. )

    Link to the current BOM, Links to cad models will be up soon:

  • New Models, Makerfaire, Ect.

    4 months ago • 0 comments

    The project is coming along, Took the first staff to Makerfaire in the Bay Area last week and had a blast walking around in the dark room before the arc attack shows! 

    (Metal and mpinner walking around with the staff)

    (Anouk sets the stage at the arc attack tesla coil show (very cool!))

    Even beat the high extreme high five machine with it! 

    Next up:

    I'm working on CAD of a much lower cost staff. So I can build a bunch of them and then have them wirelessly sync up and do the distributed show type thing at the burn this year

    I finished modeling a couple of the electrical components and have started on the mechanical ones. 

    Model for Arduino Pro Micro (sparkfun flavor)

    Parametric Model for 2812 Strips

    Current Look at the assembly of the cheapo staff (longgg way to go)

  • CAD Models of WS2182 RGB LEDs

    5 months ago • 0 comments

    Got tired of never having a CAD model for the WS2812 RGB LEDs

    So I made one. Thanks Calipers

View all 5 project logs


Lobo wrote 14 days ago null point

Hi this looks great! where can I get one ? there is any chance that i can have the code and make one myself ? Thank you! the staff looks really amazing.

Are you sure? [yes] / [no]

mpinner wrote 20 days ago null point

we got on

Are you sure? [yes] / [no]

Jasmine wrote a month ago null point

Hey risknc and mpinner, you've got two weeks before we take a snapshot of your project and decide if it should go to the next stage of The Hackaday Prize. Deadline is August 20.

I'd suggest:
- Highlighting how your project is Connected and Open in the details and video.
- Making a more informative video.
It should be less than 2 minutes long describing your project. The judges will use this to make their decision. Put it on YouTube (or Youku), and add a link to your video on your project page. This is done by editing your project (edit link is at the top of your project page) and adding it as an "External Link"
- Continuing with your Project Logs
You've done this, but if you have time in between burning man prep, do add more details.
- System design document
Make sure docs are up-to-date. And link to your system design doc from the details, so we can find it quickly.
- Mention any licenses or permissions needed for your project, and link to code repositories.

If you want to find out hte minimum requirements, there are a couple of tutorial video's with info here:

Good luck!

p.s. Do you know where you might be camped this year? If so, I'll try and find you so I can see the staff in action.

Are you sure? [yes] / [no]

risknc wrote 5 months ago null point

Another point, there are 6 strips of the 60/meter in a circular pattern around the carbon fiber, so you're actually getting multiple strips (3-4 depending on view angle) viewed at a time. They internally reflect on the polycarbonate sheath a bit too for that "one solid thing" effect.

I'm considering metal dividers between strips and an outer reflective coated polycarb sheet to get an infinity mirror effect in each compartment. Might get overpowered by the whole superbright 144/strip though. will post an experiment once I get the LEDs in the mail from LA.

Are you sure? [yes] / [no]

risknc wrote 5 months ago null point

The new one will be 2.4 times as dense (144 leds/meter) and I'm building 3 of them.
(LEDs showed up from china a few days ago (thanks matt)).

Also, with the new design I'm going for 1 hour of continuous on full bright white. (so with patterns/reduced brightness, probably 3-6 hours of use). and replaceable battery packs.

Are you sure? [yes] / [no]

Eric Evenchick wrote 6 months ago null point

This looks really bright compared to some of the LED strips I've seen... I guess 60 per metre will do that...

Are you sure? [yes] / [no]