Light painting is an “in-camera” photographic effect (that is, not composited after-the-fact) using long exposures and moving light sources. The technique dates back over a century, most of that time relying on small flashlights or incandescent bulbs…but once someone had the idea to use a whole row of computer-controlled LEDs, it quickly became one of the go-to maker projects, one we’ve visited many times. Any time a new technology comes along…Arduino, Raspberry Pi, CircuitPython…light painting is a fun and creative way to put that tech through its paces.

led_strips_picasso02.jpg
Pablo Picasso light paintings. Photo credit: Gjon Mili for LIFE Magazine, 1949

The challenge of this project was to see what could be squeezed from the CircuitPython language on a mid-range microcontroller board — Adafruit’s CLUE, which also provides a screen and buttons for a minimal interface.

An earlier project, our DotStar Pi Painter, had the enormous resources of a Raspberry Pi computer at its disposal, and the results were almost too good. Could we get some of those buttery-smooth visuals on a smaller device? A step (or three) up from the “bitmappy” LED graphics we’d previously seen from CircuitPython? Watch us work it!

Parts

Adafruit CLUE - nRF52840 Express with Bluetooth LE

PRODUCT ID: 4500
Do you feel like you just don't have a CLUE? Well, we can help with that - get a CLUE here at Adafruit by picking up this sensor-packed development board. We wanted to build some...
$39.95
IN STOCK

Adafruit DotStar Digital LED Strip - Black 144 LED/m - 0.5 Meter

PRODUCT ID: 2328
Move over NeoPixels, there's a new LED strip in town! These fancy new DotStar LED strips are a great upgrade for people who have loved and used NeoPixel strips for a few years but...
$24.95
IN STOCK

Adafruit DotStar Digital LED Strip - White 144 LED/m - 0.5 Meter

PRODUCT ID: 2329
Move over NeoPixels, there's a new LED strip in town! These fancy new DotStar LED strips are a great upgrade for people who have loved and used NeoPixel strips for a few years but...
$24.95
IN STOCK

3 x AA Battery Holder with On/Off Switch, JST, and Belt Clip

PRODUCT ID: 3287
This battery holder connects 3 AA batteries together in series for powering all kinds of projects. We spec'd these out because the box is compact, and 3 AA's add up to about...
$2.95
IN STOCK

Alkaline AA batteries (LR6) - 3 pack

PRODUCT ID: 3521
Battery power for your portable project! These batteries are good quality at a good price, and work fantastic with any of the kits or projects in the shop that use AAs. This is a pack...
$2.25
IN STOCK
This guide was first published on May 06, 2020. It was last updated on May 06, 2020. This page (Overview) was last updated on May 06, 2020.