Floating crystals and glowing lights are a match made in heaven. This project combines a wide variety of skills and tools into one lovely project. Make a gorgeous hanging lamp with sparkly beads, glowing crystals, live edge wood and of course, lots of NeoPixels. 

My chandelier is unique, and designed to show my personal style. Since you, dear reader, have your very own unique style, this tutorial will focus on giving you the tools to design and create your own one-of-a-kind bespoke hanging lamp. This tutorial will provide source files and ideas, and give guidance on how the electronics fit together.

This tutorial will also get you started with customizing your own software animations. The sample code uses CircuitPython and the delightfully easy to use LED Animations Library by Kattni Rembor. This code gives you a framework that allows speed and brightness control using a rotary encoder knob, so you can adjust the lighting to suit any environment or mood.

Parts & Materials

The Circuit Playground Bluefruit is a great choice for this project. It has the speed and memory necessary to run complex animations, and also has 10 onboard pixels we can use, without buying more rings and doing more soldering. The code also makes use of the Circuit Playground's onboard toggle switch to toggle between controlling brightness or controlling speed with the rotary encoder knob.

The rotary encoder also has a built-in button (when you push down on the knob) which we can use as an on/off switch for our lights.

shot of a Black woman's neon-green manicured hand holding up a Circuit Playground Bluefruit glowing rainbow LEDs.
Circuit Playground Bluefruit is our third board in the Circuit Playground series, another step towards a perfect introduction to electronics and programming. We've...
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Rotary Encoder with rubbery knob
This rotary encoder is the best of the best, it's a high-quality 24-pulse encoder, with detents and a nice feel. It is panel mountable for placement in a box, or you can plug it...
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My chandelier uses two NeoPixel rings in addition to the Circuit Playground's pixels, for a three-tiered effect. I'm using a 24 pixel ring and a 60 pixel ring, since the size variation pleases me - but be sure to poke around in the shop, we've got a lot of sizes.

Take note that the 60 pixel ring comes in 4 segments, sold individually, so you'll need to order x4 of these.

Hand holding NeoPixel Ring with 24 x 5050 RGB LED, lit up rainbow
Round and round and round they go! 24 ultra bright smart LED NeoPixels are arranged in a circle with 2.6" (66mm) outer diameter. The rings are 'chainable' - connect the...
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Hand holding NeoPixel Ring with 60   x 5050 RGB LED, lit up rainbow
The biggest NeoPixel Ring yet! With four of these you can make a huge ring with 60 ultra bright smart LED NeoPixels are arranged in a circle with a 6.2" diameter. Each...
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The hanging crystals on my lamp each contain one individual NeoPixel. I love the look of individual pixels when they're treated as a group in the software. It's such a delight to run a chase animation up and down the crystal spiral.

This technique requires a whole lot of fiddly soldering, and a high potential for swearing and burned fingers, but a little patience and perseverance can go a long way. Be sure to order a few more pixels than you think you'll need, since having some backups during final assembly may be really helpful.

Sheet of 20 Flora RGB Smart NeoPixels
So, you want lots and lots of NeoPixels? And you want them for less? Not a problem! Here's a sheet of Flora NeoPixels fresh from the (reflow) oven. Cut them off as you need 'em...
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Adafruit sells a lot of other types of pixels as well. My design doesn't incorporate any Soft Flexible Wire  NeoPixels or Side Light NeoPixels, but be sure to consider those for your design.

You'll also need some wire. High quality silicone stranded wire will make this lamp much easier to assemble, and will make it last a lot longer. If you haven't switched to this noodle-y wire yet, it's time. 

Be sure to get at least 4 different colors. Having multiple colors means your design can become much more complicated without the risk of hooking things up incorrectly and frying your electronics.

4 x Silicone Stranded Wire
26 awg Silicone Stranded Wire

Finally, you'll need a power supply and a screw terminal to connect the pixels to the power supply. A high-quality one will save you a lot of heartache and head-scratching.

1 x Power Supply
Compact Switching Power Supply - Selectable Output 3-12VDC
1 x Screw Terminal
Female DC Power adapter - 2.1mm jack to screw terminal block

Additional Materials

You'll need an opaque lamp base. I'm using a slab of live-edge wood with a lot of character.  I'm also using an upside-down wooden bowl on top of the lamp to hide the wires and power supply on top.

The rings are supported with 3d printed ring holders. I've provided the files for three different holders. If you don't have a 3d printer, you can upload them to a 3d printing service and they'll mail them to you. Isn't the internet great?

You'll also need a big pile of beads and crystals and pearls, or other findings that will catch the light and sparkle. Get a combination of transparent and opaque beads. The transparent ones will change color with reflected light and the opaque ones can be used to hide your wire runs. Be sure to get some monofilament line to string the beads as well.

The hanging crystals are made from laminated cellophane wrap, and cut out on a vinyl cutting machine. You can also cut them by hand, or order pre-cut kits from my Etsy store.

For hooking up the hanging crystals, I'm using a length of white telephone wire. Telephone wire is straight and smooth and pretty to look at on the outside, and it has four tiny wires on the inside, which makes it perfect for hooking up single pixels in a series. It's more difficult to work with than silicone stranded wire, since the wires are very tiny and prone to breakage, but since these wires will be showing I'm choosing form over function in this case.

I finished my chandelier off with a lamp cord and some easy-connect plugs from the hardware store, so my 5v power supply doesn't show.

This guide was first published on Jan 27, 2021. It was last updated on Dec 11, 2023.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Jan 09, 2021.

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