Does this project spark your interest?

Become a member to follow this project and don't miss any updates

Light Staff

RGB LED Staff, Massive light output. Portable Rave

Similar projects worth following

This project was created on 02/20/2014 and last updated 6 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 Era

    6 months ago • 0 comments

    And so, the first V2 staff is complete. I am super stoked. (EDIT: added some real camera pictures, will do more tomorrow))

    Now the coding and debuging begins. There is one pixel that won't turn on green. but I like to ignore it.

    Next step. a few patterns, and checking the button press works. (also the charge port). the switch is tested and reliable :D.

    Then I'll probably build a second one. Redesign incoming after that (though incrementing here, not a whole new version. we'll call it 2.1, a-la spacex rocket versioning :D)

  • Summer Madness (Winter Sadness is coming)

    6 months ago • 0 comments

    Hello Hackers!

    I've been a bit buried in startup slog, cadding and prototyping and thermalsing like a monster and generally disappearing from the world at large, though I am very friendly with the chineese now. Between that and burning man the staff progress has been slow, but I'm finally getting close to V2 coming online for the first time.

    Pictured above: pre burn I figured I could assemble them all over night disaster

    Right before the burn I ordered materials for 5 V2 staffs, using a much cheaper bill of materials (~$200 worth of materials per) I've been building and tweaking the design over the past few months, though I haven't fully assembled one yet (lots of mechanical tweaks and tricks to figure out :P).

    I printed all the parts for each staff (I'd like to go back and get them machined by a service like firstcut or find a tormach I could mill them on myself out of an aluminium or maybe a stainless (ooo fancy) to go with a carbon core version of the staff.

    Somewhere in here I modeled a FIO, it's FIOGRABCADCAPSISFORWINNERS on grabcad now also figured out how to remotely program over xbees, pretty nifty.

    After attempting assembly a couple times, I realized a nice printed spacer that holds boards or batteries at either end would be perfect, and as it turns out, the correct length spacer for the battery I'm using is ever so slightly smaller than a M*kerbot build area diagonal. My m*kerbot heated build platform connector basically caught on fire when I tried to start it up after I got back from the burn, so I printed a few on a friend's printer.

    Above: single end insert spacer, with additional support scaffold I manually modeled in (I'm doing an FDM printer sans dissolvable support, so it's easier if I model in the scaffold). If this isn't phallic enough for you well then, get into rocket science.

    Above: Staff with spacers, LEDs not shown for obvious reasons ( I am lazy and have not changed them since I added the spacers)

    Had to squeak it in, makerware didn't like it. I rammed it in. I really need to get off makerbot pritners. get me a bukobot.

    Fresh off the printer

    The fit, she was perfect.

    (well ok, there was a tad of sanding)

    so spacers were in, it was time to solder up the harness. I "finalized" the wiring layout, threw in some connectors so I could disassemble it without having to "tear" it apart (or desolder anything) and got to soldering. After a couple solid nights of getting everything sorted I powered it up and voila, we have a working micro. I'm right at the point where I do the first few light tests now.


    I'm going to finish up the wiring, button everything up and check to make sure the wireless programming via fio is still performing admirably. assuming that all works I'll create a bit of a stress test program to see just how bright I can go with this set of hardware ( 12v battery with a 5v 6a step down from pololu, somewhere around 400 LEDs on this guy I think, I haven't counted in a while)

    (battery sticks out, gonna fix that)

    oh and google made me a gif for free, thanks Larry and Sergey, really top notch work there.

    Let me know if you have any questions about the build or want more info on any of the components I'm workin with. I'm going to give a little demo/talk about this project at dorkbot socal on sunday 19th of October, come check it out! I'll keep posting logs here as the project moves forward.

  • New Models, New Parts, New Fun

    9 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:

View all 7 project logs


mpinner wrote 6 months ago point
Great updates, @risknc ! I love how beautiful the hardware is coming along and seeing the evolution.

Are you sure? [yes] / [no]

Lobo wrote 7 months ago 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 7 months ago point
we got on

Are you sure? [yes] / [no]

Jasmine wrote 8 months ago 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 a year ago 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 a year ago 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 a year ago 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]

Similar projects