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Cardboard LED Desk Lamp

Background


The last New York apartment that I called "home" was shared with two other young professionals. While they had already furnished all of the shared spaces in our apartment, the room that was to be mine was empty save for a bed frame. Everything else I needed to source myself and, knowing that I wasn't going to stay in New York for very long, I was cautious to not to spend money on furnishings that I wouldn't be able to take with me upon my departure.

However I still had to do work. And work requires a desk with some sort of light source, ideally something more pleasing than the room's single built-in light fixture. Recognizing that the foam mattress I'd purchased had put a considerable amount of one of my favorite materials (cardboard) literally into my lap, I decided to see if it was possible to build a shelf-style desk lamp on the cheap.

The Build


It just so happened that I'd already acquired a strip of soft-white LEDs a month or so earlier, so…
Recent posts

RGB LED Matrix Board ("The LiteBrite")

Background
A little over a year ago, back when I was still in New York, I decided to build an Alexa-enabled low-resolution RGB LED display. What I thought would be a quick project wound up taking a couple of months from start to finish, and even then the final product was not at all what I had been hoping to create. But I learned a lot along the way!

Below are photos I took during the process. I also published the final code (for that board, anyway) to a GitHub repository I created for NodeMCU+Arduino sketches.

Part 1: Soldering leads to each WS2812 module







Part 2: Testing substrings








Part 3: Finishing all of the substrings







Old Tech Review: RIM Blackberry 7210 (+ Teardown)

While I can't recall the exact moment when it happened, I acquired my first and only Blackberry sometime during the Fall of 2005. It came to me without a battery, which rendered it good-as-dead to a high school student without any meaningful (read: expendable) income. Without any intention of leaving it in such a state I eventually MacGyvered the battery from a Nokia 3650 to be compatible with the 7210. This quickly propelled me out of my "dumb phone" days and introduced me to what a smartphone is capable of.

Conway's Game of Life on NodeMCU (+ AMOLED)

One of my favorite programming assignments during school was to write a version of Conway's Game of Life in Python. At the time I was far more concerned with getting things working than I was with writing clean and efficient code, which only served to complicate my efforts to debug wonky behavior. I especially remember my struggle to accurately count the number of neighbors for a cell on the edge of the board. (My solution, if I remember correctly, was to add a hidden single-cell border to the board that didn't have any logic performed on it.)

In researching what others have built using a NodeMCU/ESP8266 and "128x64 I2C AMOLED" boards, I came across a pong clock written in Lua. Unfortunately, I haven't had much luck with Lua on the ESP8266 chip, so I was unable to flash the code onto one of my spare boards. Would it be possible to implement something similar using Arduino on the NodeMCU, though? To find out, I decided to test my ability to use the SSD1306 displa…

Alexa Voice Control Lights with NodeMCU

The past few weeks have seen me hacking together a number of small projects from Conway's Game of Life on an OLED screen to an informational bot giving real-time radar information for Amazon Alexa. Today I'm sharing a project I recently put some finishing touches on: Alexa voice-control for lights using nothing more than a NodeMCU. The firmware code is based largely off of someone else's project aimed at getting an Arduino board to do the exact same thing, but I made a few key modifications: Major refactor because the original code was both messy and slow (sorry it's true!) The GPIO pin is set to voltage up by default (for offline use without WiFi / Alexa) Implemented a WiFi Manager, negating the use for hard-coded WiFi credentials

Weather Widget (NodeMCU + AMOLED)

When I discovered all that an ESP8266 chip can do, I ordered myself a few of the NodeMCU v1.0 development boards to use as my go-to board for just about any project. Thanks to its compatibility with the Arduino IDE, my minimal successes using Lua-- the language its creators intended to be used on it-- needn't stand in my way. (Abandoning Lua eventually turned out to be a good thing for my project.)

However I haven't had a need to work on that project ever since I moved into my new, modern, and considerably more efficient apartment. No longer needing to control the conditions inside of my apartment, I changed my focus to something I can never change: the weather conditions outside.

What's inside of a sub-$20 Windows tablet?

Almost a year ago, during the craziest shopping day of the year-- otherwise known as Black Friday-- I spotted a sale on a tablet that I simply couldn't ignore. The premise of a Windows-powered tablet costing less than that of a beer in New York City sounded almost too good to be true. And, in many ways, it was. But in one crucial manner it defied all expectations: it was real.