A Beautiful Cassette Tape Lamp That Provides Notifications

Fab's awesome pxlBlck_CassetteLamp combines cassette tapes, RGB mood lighting, and Internet-connected notifications.

What's up fellow '80s kids? It's your boy Cameron! Be sure to smash that subscri — okay, I may not be a YouTube musician, but I do appreciate a fire mixtape. And as a person born in the 1980s, the word "mixtape" still makes me think of cassette tapes and sitting in front of the radio waiting to hit the record button at the exact moment the DJ stopped talking. That nostalgia is hard to deny, which is why I love Fab's awesome pxlBlck_CassetteLamp.

That project name may conjure up memories of questionable LimeWire MP3 downloads, but this lamp’s aesthetics are all analog. It is also quite simple: just eight clear cassette tapes arranged in a cube structure. Those tapes rest on an attractive hunk of 3D-printed wood. When it is time for some mood lighting to accompany that mixtape you made for your crush, RGB LEDs spring to life and make the cassettes glow. Something about the reels of magnetic tape visible in the glowing plastic makes this lamp very pleasing to look at.

Even better, the lamp connects to the Internet and the LED lighting can act as a notification system. One could, for instance, set it up so that the LEDs turn red when someone rings the doorbell of your smart home. If that isn't your thing, an APDS9960 sensor lets you control the lamp with hand gestures.

But I think the coolest way to control the lamp is via a pair of rotary encoders. Those attach to 3D-printed extensions that sit behind one of the cassette's reels. One rotary encoder controls color and the other controls brightness. To adjust them, you stick a pencil in the hole and give it a twist. If I need to tell you why that is neat, you're too young for this lamp anyway.

The brain of the lamp is a Wemos D1 Mini ESP8266 development board. It controls the WS2812 individually addressable RGB LEDs. Because the ESP8266 has built-in Wi-Fi and full TCP/IP stacks available, you can control the lamp through whatever networked means you desire. But the provided code will get you started with the aforementioned functions.

You can order new blank cassette tapes for this project (yes, they still sell them). But obviously that's for posers. The legit among you will head to your local thrift store and pick up some vintage tapes. Don't worry, even the most nostalgic among us have no desire to actually listen to them.

Cameron Coward
Writer for Hackster News. Proud husband and dog dad. Maker and serial hobbyist. Check out my YouTube channel: Serial Hobbyism
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