As I’m sure is the case for many of you, the Lite-Brite was one of the most memorable toys of my childhood. It was a simple toy comprised of a box lit on the inside with a perforated front plate. It came with a number of colorful translucent pegs that could fit into those perforations, giving you the ability to create your own illuminated art — or to use templates if you were lacking in imagination. You can still purchase a brand new Lite-Brite toy, but Redditor Jordy_essen created a far more modern version of the classic toy for a school project.
Jordy_essen hasn’t explicitly stated that this was inspired by the Lite-Brite, but that’s the closest analog that I can think of. His school project is a huge pair of LED panels divided up into a grid. Users can move a special selection tool around the panels in order to activate the LEDs in specific locations. The current color being set can be changed using a small control box. It’s possible to program animated patterns and also to play games. One game, for example, is played by quickly touching the selection tool to a randomly illuminated square in the grid before it disappears.
The two panels, which sit side by side, were built with a total of 1,156 WS2812B individually-addressable RGB LEDs. Those are illuminated in groups and diffused to make each square of the grid quite large. A webpage running on a Raspberry Pi controls the LEDs via six Arduino Mega boards. Another Arduino Uno board is used to monitor the potentiometers in the control box that are there to set the current color. 288 infrared sensors are arranged across the grid, which is how the system is able to detect where the selection tool has been touched to the board — the tool itself is inert and just reflects the infrared light back at the sensor. Jordey_essen says he would choose a different kind of sensor were he to attempt the project again, but it seems to work quite well in his demonstration and definitely puts the old fashioned Lite-Brite to shame.