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The Elroy Lamp: A transparent LCD lamp (2019)


Elroy is a desk lamp with a optimistic feature — the shade can dynamically trade, on the swipe of a finger, to a new model or pattern to enrich your mood, the time of day, or an match, all out of your phone or web browser.

Elroy is a principle and private DIY mission. I’ll fragment some learnings and particulars on how I constructed it. These aren’t step-by-step instructions, but I’m hoping they’ll be helpful to anybody that’s impressed to form their very accept get.


Elroy is mainly a computer with a 4-technique point out, backlit by a piquant LED bulb. The four sides of the lamp shade are fabricated from translucent LCD shows, and acrylic and paper diffusion layers. The sunshine source is a if truth be told piquant 35W LED bulb. The shows are pushed by a single board computer running Linux and personalized tool to level and arrange images. The lamp is controllable over wifi by a easy web app.

Translucent LCDs

I salvaged some 13” LCD shows from outmoded laptops and learned extra matching shows on ebay. I disassembled every point out, placing off the physique, backing layer, diffusion film, and backlight. This took some practice to get hang of correct. The LCD glass is moderately fragile. I broke 2 panels at some stage in disassembly and had to accept replacements. The trick is to blueprint discontinuance away the electrical tape that holds the point out on the side of out flexing the LCD glass so considerable that it cracks.

What’s internal? From top: 1) A piquant white paper layer to repeat the help gentle 2) a transparent polycarbonate sheet with a film to scatter the help gentle 3) a stack of diversified diffusion motion photos 4) metal physique 5) the LCD glass panel with circuit board.
The backlight is a row of neat piquant LEDs tucked into a channel within the metal physique. Some other LCD panels utilize a cool florescent tube rather then LEDs.

The closing LCD panel is translucent: LCD shows are a sandwich of transparent glass embedded with liquid crystals and tiny transistors, surrounded by layers of polarizing film. In the picture beneath, I wrote a message on a fragment of letter paper, positioned it on a transparent fragment of acrylic, on top of a piquant backlight. You would sight the LCD point out on the most sensible doubtless is translucent, but similar to a pair of shades, the polarizing film ideally in fact helpful permits a fragment of the backlight to emit by the panel.

Polarizing film is considerable for the feature of an LCD point out.

Lamp Light & Diffusion

Given the low quantity of sunshine emitted by the point out, to create a sufficiently piquant lamp, a if truth be told piquant gentle source is wished. Also, despite the undeniable fact that an LCD point out is on the full backlit by a lightweight with a cool coloration temperature (around 5000K), lamp gentle is on the full a heat coloration temperature (love 2700K). So the splendid bulb could moreover aloof be piquant and heat.

A 4-bulb array I experimented with.
The monumental 9″ long 35W LED bulb I chose beside an traditional LED lamp bulb.

I experimented with multi-bulb arrays, and diversified bulb alternatives, but settled on this 35W (300W equiv) LED bulb. This bulb is giant and takes up moderately a tiny dwelling for the length of the shade. It’s piquant enough that it shouldn’t be straight away exposed — it would possibly perchance presumably perchance be dark (presumably unhealthy?) to seek for at straight away.

Next, with out some work, the gentle from the bulb, when viewed by the LCD panels, would be a harsh level-gentle concentrated within the center. I wanted to diffuse the gentle evenly across the bottom and create a textured, cloth-love stunning. I experimented with diversified acrylic and polycarbonate sheets and paper provides.

Diffusion by mulberry paper.

Here’s one experiment consequence I if truth be told cherished, but didn’t discontinue up using. Here’s mulberry paper, which has a optimistic texture that’s concurrently woody and linen-love, has good diffusion properties, and transmits quite a lot of gentle. This regarded good with black and white patterns and in particular complemented a Eastern lantern stunning. I felt love the tubby and non-uniform fibers didn’t work as neatly with a various spot of patterns.

I learned the splendid combination was this sandwich (initiating from the internal):

  • Frosted acrylic 1/8″ 90% emission (film coping with out)
  • Vellum tracing paper
  • LCD
  • Rice paper
  • Certain anti-glare polycarbonate 3/32”
Pack up of lamp the set apart texture is visible.

The acrylic and polycarbonate sheets moreover add some structure to offer protection to the LCD glass from flexing and breaking. I wrapped the perimeters of each sandwich in acetate cloth electrical tape to support the sheets collectively.


I wanted a small SBC (single-board computer), gracious of using 4 shows. I befell to have an Nvidia Jetson Nano, which has DisplayPort 1.2 output with toughen for MST (multi-circulation transport), which technique it’s able to force extra than one shows. The Jetson Nano is a highly tremendous, tiny computer that operates on 5V strength and could moreover bustle a identical outdated Linux distribution love Ubuntu.

I wrote some personalized tool in step with Pygame to level images, with a easy web app and server to present me management over the photos.

The LCD panels blueprint discontinuance EDP (Embedded DisplayPort) video input. Every point out required an adapter from DisplayPort to EDP. These adapters are full and have quite a lot of functionality I didn’t if truth be told desire, love 12V strength and brightness management for a backlight (which I eradicated from every panel) and a management interface for point out settings. I moreover wished an MST Hub to get hang of away 4 DP ports from the 1 DP port on the Nvidia Jetson Nano. This configuration is something I mediate I could moreover fetch more affordable and additional compact in a future revision, but it worked good for this notion.


I designed the lamp structure in Rhino3D and chose to fetch wood substances from walnut. This makes the shade moderately heavy, but the lamp is stable with the walnut ghastly.

The shade physique, glued-up, sanded, and able to stain.

I within the good purchase of all substances for the shade and ghastly, then shaped them on a router desk. I’m no longer an skilled woodworker, but this came collectively stunning with out complications. I had an hurry making tongue-and-groove joints for the most necessary time. Here’s the 3rd time I’ve veteran walnut for a mission and I continually love the consequence.

The aspect-edges of the physique have brass threaded inserts that allow the head and bottom to connect by M2 machine screws.

3D Printed Formulation

Lots of the digital substances, including the power present, SBC, MST Hub, switches, and wiring are mounted in a 4.5” sq. 3D printed “sleeve” that matches for the length of the walnut ghastly. There’s moreover a vented platform that connects the sleeve to the underside of the shade.

Drawing of sleeve and vented platform. The sleeve was printed in 6 substances. The tip of the sleeve peeks out 2 inches above the walnut ghastly and homes the toggle switches.
The sleeve in 2 substances that match for the length of the walnut ghastly. In this picture it’s good to moreover sight quite a lot of the most necessary substances. From the most sensible doubtless: The DisplayPort hub, Nvidia Jetson Nano, and 5V / 12V strength present. The white cylinder on the left is a ceramic E26 gentle bulb socket.
The sleeve, ready to insert into the walnut ghastly. I primed and painted the 3D printed sleeve. Totally the head 2 inches is visible when the lamp is assembled, so the tough spots here aren’t a explain.

If I had been building this lamp for manufacturing … or if I had get hang of entry to to the most sensible doubtless tools, I’d desire to fetch the sleeve and platform out of sheet metal to purple meat up heat dissipation.

On top of the shade, I added a louvered veil. This allows the shade to emit extra gentle from the head, while obscuring the bulb, which is too piquant to seek for at straight away. This moreover permits heat to flee. I printed these substances out of translucent PETG, which has a higher plasticization temperature than any other overall 3D printing filament provides. This isn’t strictly considerable since the bottom temperature of the bulb doesn’t if truth be told get hang of that sizzling. Even after hours of real utilize, the temperate is <130 degrees Fahrenheit.

Drawing of shade with louvers and vented platform.
The 3D printed louvered vent while the interior bulb is off.

Making it better

This lamp is mostly a proof of concept, but it works and looks good enough that I plan to keep it and use it. If I make another, I have a few ideas for improvement.

  • Sheet metal. Replace the 3D printed sleeve and vented platform with sheet metal to help dissipate heat.
  • Replace the DisplayPort MST hub and adapters. These take up a lot of space and add significant expense (~$250 for the hub and 4 adapters). One theoretical alternative is a DisplayLink adapter based on the DL-4100, which would drive displays over USB and support EDP. I haven’t been able to find such a device on the market yet. Another option to drive displays from USB3 would be to use an SBC with Displayport Alt Mode. I would still need to adapt Displayport to eDP. Adapter boards that do this are bulky and have a lot of components because they provide power and control to the backlight. Since I’m not using a backlight, I could make a simpler adapter that just maps pins for the different connectors.
  • Finally, reconsider the closed frame design. Elroy’s shade is basically a closed box. I made this choice  to obscure the bulb and hide some electronic components like the EDP ribbon cables and adapters. An open frame design might be possible. One idea is to backlight the panels with edge lighting so I can reduce or eliminate the high wattage bulb.




  • 1 X Nvidia Jetson Nano w/ SD Card

DC Energy



  • 1 X Yasutomo Sulphite Pulp Unryu Paper Roll, In the good purchase of
  • 4 x Sheets, vellum paper
  • 4 X Frosted Acrylic 11 7/8″ X 6 7/8″, 1/8″, “90%”
  • 4 X Certain, anti-glare Polycarbonate, 11 7/8″ X 6 7/8″, 3/32”


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