Pixel Spinner

As part of my Christmas light display i’m going to build a couple of pixel spinners.

I drew up this very rough diagram so i had an idea of what i was doing.

I know, it’s poor. I do plan on getting to grips with some cad software at some point to make nice drawings. 

The ‘sticks’ are going to be made of 20mm PVC Electrical Conduit pipe, it’s reasonably priced and easy to work with. The center piece i designed and printed with my 3D printer…

It took a few attempts to get the hole sizing correct for the tubing to fit nice and snug, but it worked out well in the end…

As you can see in the image above, i’ve already started drilling the holes for the Pixels to sit in. To do this i built a little jig, this gives me a much better chance of getting the holes somewhere near the right place. 

Once i had drilled all the holes i cut the LED Pixel string into the correct lengths and pushed them into the holes. You have to be quite forceful to get some of them to fit in. It also helps to shave down some of the little rubber tabs slightly.

I then had to connect them all up – this was a slow process that involved soldering lots of connections. Every connection was covered in adhesive lined heat shrink tubing to make sure they’re waterproof. You can see the adhesive oozing out the end of the tubing. For the cable i used some ‘6 core alarm cable’ as i had an old reel kicking around. Needing only three cores, i doubled them up. I covered the whole lot with some ‘self-alignment tape’ to add another layer of waterproofing.

I wired it up for a test and it worked great other than a couple of the LEDs not working on a certain colour. They do work correctly if you put pressure on them in a certain direction, so one of the legs on the LED must have become disconnected. Probably whilst i was pushing them into the tube – something to remember for next time.

I then Attached the controller module and a loop so i could hang it on the wall,.

6 thoughts on “Pixel Spinner

  1. Tory

    Tom, did you put up that 3D print up anywhere that someone may download it? I see on thingiverse there is a 6, and while I’m just mating 2 4way PVC connectors together, your piece is so much cleaner and would allow a single plane, vs the offset of the pipes.


    1. admin Post author

      Hi Tory,

      I didn’t put the print up anywhere, however i’ll email it to you now.

      I’d be interested to see your spinner when it’s done.

      I have one of these center pieces spare if anyone in England would like it for the cost of shipping.


      1. Tory

        Thanks Tom appreciate the email. Just printed yours and it printed well, 10 hours 🙂 40% infill with PETG. But now I need to find the right PVC. I have thin wall but it’s 21.5 vs the 20mm of your spinner center, so going to the big box stores to see what they have. Standard conduit is gray and I don’t want that. So not entirely sure what I’m going to do. I did scale this up ever so slightly so that it should fit thin wall pvc (21.5mm) , but I’m still learning 3d so had to scale everything, trying to see if I can just scale the openings vs scaling everything.. Appreciate you sending to me and when I get them complete I’ll share.

        1. admin Post author

          No problem, not sure exactly where you’re from but the conduit i used is this https://www.screwfix.com/p/tower-conduit-heavy-gauge-20mm-x-3m-length-black/7980P?tc=EB2&ds_rl=1247848&ds_rl=1245250&gclid=Cj0KCQiAgNrQBRC0ARIsAE-m-1xXMyxcoellGXU_ot9KgcrsDEqzhfqHYSfjT63sktcrLCgsfkJJrJEaAgyHEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds&dclid=CJHq49eW1dcCFU-M7QodORMGQQ

          I created the original design using Tinkercad. Here’s a link https://www.tinkercad.com/things/ermeeBzbTqO

          If you make an account you may be able to adjust the size of the openings to better fit your tubing.

          I look forward to seeing your results 🙂

  2. David

    Very smart spinner and impressed with you railings matrix!

    I made a 16×12 matrix at 50mm centres with RGB pixels for 2017. Glued drilled ping pong balls over each pixel to spread the light and ran it with Jinx software through an Arduino.

    For 2018 I have more time and more pixels… thanks for the ideas and inspiration.

    My main concern is the wiring and power injection mixing with the wet UK winter. Did everything hold up in your display?

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks! Ping-Pong balls is a good idea, must have taken a while to drill them all though.
      The power injecting and wiring all held up perfectly fine. Just have to make sure you enclose all electronics in watertight housings. I used ‘SuperSeal’ connectors for the wiring, it’s the same sort of connectors you see in the engine bay of a car.


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