Akshay Baweja Open Source Electronics Designer and Creator

As they say A lot can happen over a coffee, so I and Utkarsh Kumar Gupta (my mentor) decided to build a unique coffee table which makes you go nostalgic having 8-bit games packed inside it along with other fun stuff. Some of games include Snakes, Tetris, Pong and Bricks with a music analyser an addition to the whole table.

We started with the basic design ideas and sketching up the basic designs of how should our table look like while I did some research on the controllers to be used along with LEDs to make the whole thing running up. I decided to go with an Arduino Mega 2560, a Bluetooth module and 8mm RGB LEDs with WS2811 IC as serial LED controller the combination is popularly known as Pixel LEDs. Meanwhile, then Utkarsh came up with the design and decided to keep it a square shape coffee table. So I continued with a square table housing a 14 x 14 grid of LEDs.

Starting with the basic structure I first marked 8mm thick ply-wood after a few calculations, then made the required cuts using circular saw and table saw. Now needed 196 holes for LED's were drilled which was one of many time consuming tasks. After alot of patience, finally 196 holes on the base board which will be holding LEDs were drilled.

Coming to the LEDs, they were laid out in a snake pattern with first LED at the top, these were bonded to base-board so they cannot come off and stays permanent.

From drilling 196 holes to bonding LEDs to board, the madness didn't stop. Now the Grid was to be cut and the circuit was in design process along...So, the grid was cut out of 4mm sun-board. Grid was 2 inches high from the base-board so as to give the LEDs to diffuse properly and uniformly giving whole table a classic look.

The Control Structure

A custom Arduino shield was designed for the Coffee Table which included all the necessary components along with connector for the Pixel Leds.

An Android app for same was designed on MIT App Inventor 2. You can download the app here. The app is basically a controller for switching of menus and playing games on it.

The Outer Frame and Design

The outer frame and design of the table was handled by Utkarsh Kumar Gupta, from raw wood to the finished and polished product everything was handled by him. After putting in alot of thoughts into it. He came up with the designs and started implementing them. After a week of putting in thought to what to make table look he finished it and my expression was just WOW. That was like giving table a life.

Many additions are planned for the table in future which would include a physical joystick control, auto detection of objects kept on table and many more.

Akshay Baweja 2016