Center Tiers

We'll start at the bottom with the rotary encoder, and work our way up.

Use some superglue to secure the rotary encoder in its niche, making sure not to get any glue in the mechanism.

Place the Circuit Playground on top of the rotary encoder and thread the three NeoPixel wires through three of the holes. Place a dab of hot glue on the inside of each hole around the wire, to add strain relief. It's never a good idea to rely solely on a solder joint for structural connections, and the hot glue will keep the wire from slipping around or pulling out.

For the fourth hole, we'll use a dummy wire. Tie a knot in a length of yellow wire (or any color that's different from your live wires) and thread it through the fourth hole with the knot on the inside.

String a series of beads or faux pearls along each of the four wires. I like using pearls since they are opaque and will hide the wires while still reflecting a lot of ambient light. Use a variety of sizes to add interest, but keep the sequence and number of pearls the same on all four strands.

Thread the four wires in through the four outer holes in the smaller ring. (In the photo they're threaded through the inner holes, but in my final design I ended up switching this around and threading through the outer holes for these wires, and I think it looks a lot better).

Solder these wires to the NeoPixel ring: red to +, black to G, and white/data to DIN. Plug your CircuitPlayground in to power and test to be sure the ring lights up.

Once you're sure everything's working, thread the "out" wires you soldered to the ring in the last step through the inner holes, adding a dummy wire to the fourth hole. Nestle the ring in place and glue all 8 wires in place, making sure to take up any slack from below. You can hide the "slack" in the wires underneath the ring.

This part is tricky, so take your time and be gentle. A pair of needle-nosed pliers can be really helpful.

Repeat for the large ring. Again, the photo shows the wires entering from the inside and emerging from the outside of the 3d printed ring, but I ended up reversing this in the final design. 

Thread pearls or beads onto the wires emerging from the large ring.

You should now have three tiers of lights. Shake it around a little bit just to make sure all your connections and strain relief points are tight. It's easier to fix things now than it will be later. If everything looks good, you can add some hot glue to hold the rings down into their 3d printed bases, if needed.

Mark four equidistant attachment points on your lamp base for the four pearl strands coming from the upper ring. I think it looks best if they're a little wider than the ring's diameter.

This is also a great time to mark out where your crystals or bead strands will go.

Drill holes through all your marks. Thread the wires through the holes from the underside of the lamp base, and secure them on the top of the base with some hot glue or a zip tie.

Crystal Gems

Temporarily hang your lamp base up, or place it on sawhorses, so you can easily reach both the top and the bottom. 

Thread your crystal gem wires through the lamp base. Adjust the height of each crystal until it pleases you, then put a zip tie around the wire on the top of the lamp base to hold it exactly where you want it.

I added some extra beads to the bottom of my crystals to weight them a bit more and make the wires hang straight. If your wires won't straighten out, you can gently heat them with a heat gun and hold them taut as the plastic cools.

Trim the crystal wires down, leaving around 8-12 inches of wire sticking up from each crystal. These wires are hard to strip and break easily, so make sure you have some extra length in case of breakage. 

Strip off about 6 inches of the outer shielding. You'll find a red, black, yellow, and green wire inside. When you wire up the pixels, wire yellow to IN and green to OUT. 

Connect the data wire coming from your NeoPixel rings to the IN wire (yellow) on your first crystal. Connect the green wire from that bundle to the yellow wire on the next crystal, and so on, until you have a yellow to green connection between each of the crystals.

Cut a length of red and black wire, and insert one stripped end into your screw terminal (red to +, black to -).

Then, splice ALL the red wires you can find, including the screw terminal wire and the wire coming from the NeoPixel rings, into one giant happy conjunction. 

Repeat with the black wires, including the one from the screw terminal and the one from the rings. 

I found it easiest to twist half the wires together into a big bundle, then do the same with the other half, slip on some heat shrink and then solder the two halves together.

Plug in your power supply and test to be sure all the lights come on. Turn your knob to test the different code features. Hooray! Now it's time to decorate with more hanging beads, jewels, swarovski crystals, or whatever catches your fancy.

Finish your lamp off with a cover to hide your huge mess of wires and your power supply. 

I used a wooden bowl turned upside-down on the top of my lamp and screwed into the lamp base. I used a nice looking lamp cord and an easy-to-wire plug from the hardware store to hang my lamp and make it look finished.

It took a couple tries to find the center point so my lamp hangs straight. I eventually got it almost right, and added a small piece of steel to finish out the balance. 

This guide was first published on Jan 27, 2021. It was last updated on May 19, 2024.

This page (Final Assembly) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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