Programmable Kitchen Island Lamp

Parties end up in the kitchen, so why not give the kitchen lamp a party mode?

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A lamp to go above my kitchen island that has a normal kitchen mode, plus a party mode. The normal mode is a nice, dimmable white light (3700K) with separately-controllable LEDs facing both downwards and up to bounce off the ceiling. Party mode is 60/m individually-addressable RGB LEDs also pointing both upwards and downwards controlled through sACN/E1.31.

In order to remain classy, the entire lamp is shrouded in a finished walnut housing, with a diffuser on the downward-facing side. All the control electronics hidden away in a box attached to the ceiling. The wires hanging it double as power/data.

The lamp consists of a few key components:

  • The light core, which consists of strips of LEDs stuck to 80/20 extruded aluminum beams
  • The finished walnut housing, which holds the diffusers and shapes the light
  • The control box, which hides away all the control electronics and is attached to the ceiling
  • The ceiling mounts, which are just ⅜" plumbing fixtures and a 3D printed part
  • The main controller, hiding in a nearby closet, which has many channels of programmable LED control

All the design for this project has been done in OpenSCAD. This allows the design to be fully parametric and adjustable.

This project has a couple design goals:

  • Be elegant
  • Blend into the environment
  • Maximum flexibility
  • Party hard

For elegance and blending into the environment, this lamp should be as slim as possible and use materials that are already found in this space. The finished walnut housing matches other wooden details already in our kitchen. Having dimmable lamps facing downward as well as upward allows for a ton of flexibility. Party mode should be invisible until it's activated, but when it's active it's on. It should tie into the other programmable LEDs being installed throughout the house. 

For LEDs, one critical element for maximum elegance was to ensure that both the white and RGB LEDs had a high enough PWM frequency. One of my pet peeves about programmable LEDs is that often people use LEDs that flicker when your eyes move around the scene. Too many programmable LEDs (like the extremely popular WS2811) use a PWM frequency of ~450Hz. While this is fine if you and your art isn't moving, as soon as you move your head (or eyes) you get an annoying digital artifact and can see the LEDs flickering.

I used WS2815 RGB LEDs both in part because the 12V power rails let me run a longer run without power injection, as well as their 2KHz PWM frequency. It's not the best on the market (that would be the SK9822 at 8KHz or APA102 at 19kHz), but at least it's not 450Hz. The DMX white LED driver I got happens to clock in at 8KHz, which was a delightful discovery.

For LED control, I'm using the Falcon F16V3 RGB LED controller. This will be used for a number of other LED art installations I'm working on around my house in addition to the kitchen lamp. This will give me a slick 30-60FPS of LED animation possibility, controllable easily through Python or TouchDesigner.

  • Finished the electronics

    Steve Pomeroy2 days ago 0 comments

    I finished the electronics today. The RGB and white LEDs on both sides can now be controlled via the main controller over sACN/E1.31! I tested everything out with QLC+.

    The DMX controller seems to work just fine without a ground wire. My understanding of this is that RS485 and thus DMX requires a common mode voltage between -7VDC and +12VDC, so as long as the grounds between my two power supplies (one for the main controller, the other for the lamp) don't have a voltage differential greater than that, then I'm fine. They're on the same house AC and are made by the same manufacturer, so that probably helps.

  • Light core installed on the ceiling

    Steve Pomeroy2 days ago 0 comments

    I test-fit the core lighting system on the ceiling and tried out the white LEDs (up and down at the same time). Interestingly, the upwards white LEDs create a very rectilinear shadow of the wires on the ceiling. The effect is not bad, but also not intended. I'm going to roll with it, though: the room illumination it provides is excellent.

    The RGB LEDs work great too:

    Of course, this is only showing off the fact that all the LEDs light properly and checking out the light levels. Every one of the LEDs can be controlled, there's a ton more possibility than just a single color at a time. The downward RGB LEDs will be diffused and the upward ones will just have a clear dust cover on them, so the final effect will be very interesting.

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