Light Pillars

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Project Name Light Pillars
Contact User:Taraxacum
Status abandoned
Budget 7100
Fabric Length (meter) 0

Light Pillar at Dusk with hackers

4 meter tall cylinder wrapped with a LED-strip.

Demo'ed at the 2021 field day by Pascal and his son.

Hafnium and Oliver took over the light pillar project and worked on a prototype that was satisfying enough to create 40 units of, and scatter throughout the MCH field. However, as we talked with creators of the OHM lights and other helpful hackers, and set up the first version of our prototype (which we found to be underwhelming), we could see that this project quickly turned into mega ohm lights with less awesomeness. We therefore decided to abandoned the project as focus on the Crystal_Octahedron project, which came out as a result of all the talking, drawing and prototyping from this project.

The Arch Prototype

The version shown at the September 2021 Field Weekend was build in two days using materials we had ready to go at home. The primary design goal was 'It's Monday. We want to have a 4 metre tall RGB led thing ready by Thursday'. As such it is too flawed for the cost involved to make a bunch of these with this exact design. We can do probably do better and maybe cheaper too. That said, this is the thing we demoed:

  • A two section light pillar built from 110mm PVC drain piping.
  • About 460 WS2812 RGB LED strip, 60/meter, 5050, 10mm wide
  • Driven by an ESP32 dev board (not sure which one)
  • Powered by an oversized 400W 5v Mean-Well supply
  • Two PVC end-caps, a connector piece, black paint, hot glue, wiring, tie downs and IKEA Samla project box
  • Peak power usage is about 130W at 5V

Cost excluding power supply is about €65, suitable power supplies are around €35 for a total of about €100

We aim to build 45 pieces in total, of which 5 pieces are failure margin. This amounts to a total of € 4500. € 300 is reserved for prototyping.

Design Goals

This is a brainstorm list of goals, in no particular order. Don't hesitate to add yours for our consideration. There is no mind reading. I plan on making a new prototype around mid-October 2021.

Structural requirements
What Discussion. Why? Why not? How? Submitted by
Survive 20 days of rain It's July in the Netherlands. It rains. Taraxacum
Survive heat wave We've had days of 40+ weather. Black things get hot Taraxacum
Some way to store them We'd like to re-use them Taraxacum
Single event use If we don't intend to re-use, the components should be reusable Taraxacum
Re-usable for X years Components should be easy to fix / replace. Storage and documentation becomes an issue Taraxacum
Electronics requirements
What Discussion. Why? Why not? How? Submitted by
Power connection between 100 and 150 watts is required for full brightness Taraxacum
Daisy chain power A single (cheap) cable makes them easy to deploy along a lane Taraxacum
12 volt power to LED strips Helps relieve voltage drop and makes it possible to use cheap ATX power supplies polyfloyd
LED strips must have high PWM frequency These things will be everywhere, they might as well be easy to look at polyfloyd
Software requirements
What Discussion. Why? Why not? How? Priority Submitted by
Open Wireless connection Easy for people to play with Must have Taraxacum
Allow fallback operation without WiFi ESPs do not do 5Ghz WiFi which makes it unreliable. Please implement an API that allows a sequence of images to be stored on the device. Also please implement some pre-programmed animations that can be used without connectivity Must have polyfloyd
Do not overuse the network's airtime Rate limit APIs so people are not tempted to continuously stream data Must have polyfloyd
>30hz animation frame rate Smooth animations :) Must have polyfloyd
Be interesting during daylight hours Just a pillar isn't very exciting during the day Should have Taraxacum
Be safe-ish for photosensitive people We should be nice to neurodiverse people and people with photosensitive epilepsy. Do not permit rapid flashes of bright contrasting colors. Could be hard to implement... Should have polyfloyd
Animations are synchronised When running built in animations it is very nice to have all poles display the same animation. We could perhaps use NTP and time the animations on the current time Nice to have polyfloyd
Support Art-Net Because the OHM Led Strip Sleeves also use it Nice to have Taraxacum
Share next-gen controller with OHM Led Sleeves Share design the workload and use (some) PoE. Nice to have Taraxacum


  • TODO: Other teams needed?
  • TODO: Permits required?
  • TODO: Power in watts?
  • TODO: Network? Private network required?


  • 2021-09-05: Mailed Pascal for BOM and cost estimate
  • 2022-03-04: Had a call with Pascal about the status:

Pascal needs a co-lead for this project to work on the controller. Polyfloyd opted to carry this. The prototype shown at the field day was built from materials that were laying around at the time, Pascal will think about suitable materials for bulk production.

  • 2022-03-09: Hafnium will take over responsibility for the controller and start prototyping

Howto: Prepare

  • TODO: Is there a part in the preparation process that can be performed in parallel by a group of volunteers?
  • TODO: Do volunteers require a specific set of skills?
  • TODO: How many volunteers over how many hours are required?
  • TODO: Is the preparation bound to a specific location?
  • TODO: How much space is required to store the project before it is moved to the event site?

TODO: Describe the manufacturing process in the highest level of detail.

Howto: Buildup

  • TODO: Where is the stuff stored?
  • TODO: Should Team Logistics be involved in moving the project to the event site?
  • TODO: How many volunteers are required?
  • TODO: How much time is required?
  • TODO: Provide instructions on how to set up the installation on the event site.

Howto: Teardown

  • TODO: Throw/give away?
  • TODO: How many volunteers are required?
  • TODO: How much time is required?
  • TODO: How much waste in cubic meters is produced?

Hafnium and Olivers suggestion

TLDR: We suggest that the budget is adjusted to 7050 EUR.

The silicone tubes disperses the LED light which looks much nicer then bare LED strips.

Light pillar BOM
Product Amount meters/unit Unit Price Sum Shipping Note
LED strip with WS2815 45 60 LED/meter 5 meter 24.75 USD 1113.75 USD 361 USD IP30 rated, uses 12 V
Silica Tube, T1616 side 45 5 meter 58,.34 2656.3 USD 584.14 USD Silica tube for light dispersion. This adds IP67 to the LED strip
ESP32 45 4.77 214.65 USD 58.46 USD LED controller
PSU 45 12 V 10 USD 450 USD 123.39 USD Not decided. This is only a reference for budget
HT pipe 75mm Ø 90 2 meter 9,15 USD 823.5 USD
Cable strips
Wago 221-413 350 0,35 USD 119 USD
End caps for pipe
Total 45 107.35 USD 5346.2 USD 1126.99 USD

Current unit price is 107.35 USD (97.64 EUR). Material total is 5346.2 USD and shipping total is 1126,99 USD.

That is a total of 5890 EUR for the materials. We suggest that the budget for the 45 light pillars is set to 150 EUR per unit = 6750 EUR. Keeping the 300 EUR for prototyping sets our total to 7050 EUR.


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