Friday, March 1, 2024

Dazzling DIY Hexagonal LED Accent: A Budget-Friendly Alternative to Nanoleaf Lights with WLED Magic!

I recently completed a wood hexagonal accent piece with LED backlighting for my office. My inspiration was the Nanoleaf hex lights, but I aimed to achieve a similar look without incurring the high cost associated with Nanoleaf lights. Additionally, I saw this as an opportunity to explore and learn about WLED.

To start, I sourced hexagonal wood panels in multiple tones. I deliberately chose multiple-tone panels to ensure the accent piece looked appealing even when the lights were off.

Unlike Nanoleaf panels, my wooden panels don't allow light to shine through. Therefore, I planned to position the LEDs to shine out the top, bottom, and sides of the panels. This necessitated offsetting the panels from the wall to provide space for mounting the LED strips behind the hex panels.

To achieve this, I opted for aluminum U-track to offset the panels. I cut the tracks into smaller pieces and assembled them into hexagonal shapes, each about 3 inches smaller than the wood panels. These aluminum hex panels were then connected using flat steel bars that I had predrilled with holes. This design not only allowed me to create the desired pattern but also added rigidity. In hindsight, I may have gone overboard with the steel bars. Subsequently, I glued the wood panels to the hexagonal aluminum frames.

For the lighting, I selected a WS2811 12-volt LED strip. I cut the strip to fit around each aluminum hexagonal frame and soldered wires between each length of the LED strip.

Next, I connected the LED strip to an ESP32 controller with WLED installed. This setup allows me to choose different lighting effects and integrate the accent piece with Home Assistant.

While the project was enjoyable, there are a few things I would do differently if I were to undertake it again. Firstly, I would choose a different material for the frames, as using U-track proved time-consuming. A simpler alternative like jar lids might be more efficient. Secondly, I would opt for a different material instead of the flat steel bars, as they were challenging to cut, and the holes were too large for my needs, requiring the use of washers for proper attachment.

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