Make a custom shadow box with multiple paper layers, stacked within a frame lined with NeoPixels LED lights. The light shining between the layers creates a gorgeous colorful depth to your artwork.

This tutorial takes this art form a step further with the addition of a WiFi-enabled MagTag E-Ink display. The CircuitPython code connects to the internet over WiFi and receives a real time clock / calendar feed for your location and automatically sets the clock on the MagTag display. 

The real magic happens with the NeoPixel visualization code. At sunrise each day your pixels will light up with a beautiful sunrise color palette. When day breaks, your pixels will transition to a lovely daytime color palette, and then fade through a sunset palette into a starry night as the sun sets.

It's the perfect accessory for a Smart home - a custom, handmade piece of artwork that suits the room at any time of day.

The electronics build for this project is very easy - just plug the NeoPixel strip into the MagTag, plug into power, and you're done.

The software setup is just a little bit trickier. You'll need to install CircuitPython and a few libraries, then do a little customization to add your location and WiFi info. You can keep the color palettes as-is or dig in to the code and program your own beautiful colors.

The hardest part of this project is the physical shadow box build. You'll need a vinyl cutter (or a utility knife and a LOT of skill and patience), a laminating machine ($25 on Amazon, and oh so useful), and a shadow box frame.

This tutorial includes a free downloadable shadow box design, as well as some tips on how to create your own. You can also look online at the wide variety of shadow box designs available, and customize them to accommodate the MagTag and NeoPixel strip. The possibilities are endless.


Angled shot of Adafruit MagTag development board with ESP32-S2 and E-Ink display.
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Plug in and glow, this Adafruit NeoPixel LED Strip with JST PH Connector has 30 total LEDs and is 1 meter long, in classy Adafruit...
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Power your pixels & magtag with a USB C cable. 

1 x USB C Cable
1m USB C Cable

Once your project is programmed, you can plug it into the wall directly with this USB C power supply. This cable will work great with a Smart Plug in case you want to add home automation control to your artwork.

1 x USB C Power Suppply
Power Supply 5.1V 3A with USB C - 1.5 meter long

You'll Also Need

This guide was first published on Mar 03, 2021. It was last updated on Jul 17, 2024.

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

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