Monthly Update July 2022

10 min readJul 3, 2022


Hey there! And welcome to another monthly update about my LED projects, what progress I made and what comes next!

Sharing knowledge

Let’s start again with what happened in June. After I helped Janek at xHain (the local hackspace nearby me) to learn PCB design and to design his first LED PCB, he finally received it in June and I helped him with the process of assembling his first PCB. The result: it worked! He was super happy about the result and super thankful for me helping him with the whole process. But also for me, it was a great experience — helping others learn new skills and create things is a lot of fun and positive feedback like that is very fulfilling. So I am really looking forward to giving workshops about how to build your own LED projects, PCB design, and other topics in the coming months.

The first prototype of GlowSign.


Beginning of June I assembled the first prototype of GlowSign. The LED sign which I designed was inspired by the huge and unpractical “The Glowing Laptop Project” project which I created a few years ago. And I really liked this new prototype of GlowSign and it mostly worked perfectly fine! Except for some strange behavior when the battery was running low (a problem which I noticed in a different way with another battery-powered project of mine — MagiqWand). Besides that issue, I also noticed some other things that I should change in the next prototype — for example making a cutout in the middle of the main PCB and extending the case there. So that the design on the sign can actually glow (which I hoped would also work by just using the PCB as a diffuser, but it didn’t work well). And by moving the SMD nuts from the main PCB to the aluminum PCB, one can easily switch the aluminum plate with the cat for another design with another cutout. Also, some people who liked the LED sign a lot complained about the thickness of it and would like to see it even thinner. Understandable. But since the thickness mostly just comes from the battery, I am also thinking about a version without an integrated battery and with USB-C only. That version could easily be about 7–8mm thin, in comparison to the 12mm of the current battery-powered version — around a 40% decrease in thickness.

Left: the finalized prototype of GlowLight, Right: the previous prototype from June


Next, let’s talk about GlowLight. I assembled the latest prototype, with multiple PCBs which I designed and a button at the top to turn on/off the lamp and switch the animation. And the result looked great! But I also realized a few more important things with this prototype: 1. Using solder paste instead of regular solder is sometimes a really bad idea. It’s awesome for soldering SMD components to a PCB, but a really bad idea to solder two PCBs together at a 90 degrees angle and a gap in between. Of course, it happened what had to happen — some (not molten) solder paste collected between the PCBs and created a short circuit. With regular solder, this would not have happened. Another downside of that prototype was that it didn’t hold together just by itself and the top cover started to bend over time, at least the 3D printed version made with an SLA printer. So I made some further changes to the design and am happy to report: I fixed those issues and finalized the design so far. Including screws that hold the lamp together (also while holding the lamp in the hands), without the screws being clearly visible from the outside. And I also adapted the top case cover to make the button easier and more reliable to press.

Left: the finalized design of GlowTower, Right: the previous prototype from a few months ago


The same design changes I made to GlowLight, I also applied to GlowTower — and also created a new bottom case, to fit the PCB inside with all the components needed. The result is an awesome-looking floor lamp, with a lot of LEDs, for a lot of glowing options!

Left: the inside of the finalized GlowTube design, with thicker PCBs and extra screws & nuts for better stability. Right: the previous prototype from June


I also assembled the latest GlowTube prototype, with the custom PCBs I designed. And while the PCBs worked perfectly fine, I underestimated the effect of slightly deformed 3D prints in combination with soldering the LED strip PCBs (GlowStripe) not perfectly aligned together. And then building the lamp together spontaneously, instead of following a plan for how to assemble the lamp. The result was a GlowTube lamp that didn’t connect to the top case part at all and therefore had not enough structural stability to stay on the wall long term (not very surprising). The good news: I also fixed those issues in the design and PCBs. I added more SMD nuts to the PCBs, to screw the case parts better together with the PCBs — and also improved the tolerances between parts. So now everything should fit rock solid with the new design. And I am already looking forward to assembling this finalized design of GlowTube in the coming weeks!

Left: the new GlowCore design, Right: the original GlowCore prototype from a few months ago


My first PCB design ever was originally for creating a single PCB that I could use in all (or most) of my LED projects. But I learned over the last months that this approach doesn’t make that much sense and instead its better to optimize the PCB for a specific product. But I still liked the idea of creating an easy-to-use development board for controlling LEDs and calling it GlowCore. For all the curious makers out there who want to get started with building their own LED projects, but feel overwhelmed by the complexity of figuring out what parts they need for that and how to control the LEDs. So, I finalized the first version of GlowCore as well — with multiple connectors which allow you to connect multiple LED strips, buttons, sensors, or whatever else you want to connect to your LED project. And if all you want to do is bring an LED strip to glow — you don’t even need to do any soldering, just connect the wires that come with the LED strip, connect them to the connectors of GlowCore and fixate them with a screwdriver. And if you want to connect something else — simply unscrew to loosen the connector again and remove the cable. This easy way of connecting LED strips and other things to it makes it also perfect for my bike! Because this means I can simply first fixate the LED strips to my bike and then easily connect GlowCore to the LEDs, without having to solder directly on my bike (which I have done in the past — and believe me, it’s super annoying). And maybe you also have an idea for an LED project? Then I am sure you gonna have fun with GlowCore. The good news: soon you will be able to order GlowCore (as well as GlowLight, GlowTower, and GlowTube), via my new online shop (more on that further down in this blog post).

Left: first print on the Peopoly Phenom XXL, that failed, Right: MagiqWand with the successfully printed case in full length, at Critical Mass Berlin


Also with MagiqWand, the LED wand project I work on together with some friends, I made some progress. For the first time, I used the XXL resin printer at xHain (Peopoly Phenom XXL), to print the case parts of the prototype in full length instead of split into two. Annoying, the printing process turned out to be more tricky than expected. The smell of the printer while printing is a lot worse than the Anycubic Photon Mono X (which didn’t exactly make people happy in the space), it also needed a ton of resin to print anything at all. 1,5l minimum, just to make sure the resin container is full enough to have resin covering the whole giant display. And the first print was also a failure. Because this printer needed more heavy support material than the Anycubic Photon Mono X, which I used previously. The result of the second print however looked mostly very nice — even while the edges have been not exactly flat, which made connecting the two case parts more difficult. But this didn’t stop me from testing out MagiqWand for the first time at Critical Mass, in Berlin. Together with probably hundreds of other bicyclists I was driving across the city, with MagiqWand mounted on my bike and constantly glowing. A lot of people loved it, some called it a glowing unicorn horn. Not very surprising, considering the way it was mounted on my bike with rainbow fur.

There are still some important bugs that have to be fixed with MagiqWand however. All connected to the battery and the converter chip on the PCB which I designed. But I am confident those issues will be fixed in July as well. And, since JLCPCB also assembles double-sided PCB prototypes now, this might also be a good time to switch from two one-sided PCBs that are soldered together, to a single double-sided PCB design instead.

xHain and me at re:publica. Left: my LED projects presented in the make space area, Right: the Creality CR30 3D printer from xHain


I also had the chance to join re:publica for the first time. Joining the make space area, organized by xHain and some other people. I talked for hours, telling people who checked out the area about 3D printing and the 3D printers we have at xHain and partially also had at re:publica, 3D printing example objects. But I also showed people my LED projects and tried to get more people excited about LEDs and the idea of creating their own LED projects. That part was a lot of fun, even while talking for hours with people turned out to be also quite exhausting.

Some first wireframes of the new website. Playing around with ideas on how to structure the website, while ignoring colors, images, the design of buttons and so on.

New website + online shop

And the last big topic I worked on in June was creating a completely new website and online shop for my LED products. Instead of just quickly creating an online shop and having no website with more details on those products, I instead now took more time to think about how my new website should be structured, what information it should include, what it should focus on how to keep things still simple — to not end up developing the website for multiple months. So I finished the wireframes of the core parts of the website and also collected some thoughts on the online shop which is linked to the new website. The focus of the main website however is to make it clear what all my LED products have in common — helping people build their first LED project and introducing them that way into the huge magical world of designing electronics products. But also to get people excited about all the cool stuff they can do with the LED lamps which I will then start selling as easy-to-assemble DIY kits (with the long-term goal to also sell the most in-demand LED products fully assembled). Alongside that, there will be manuals, guides, 3D printable cases, and more DIY-related content, easily accessible on the website.

Renderings of the finalized designs of GlowTube and GlowLight

And to make it easier to create a wide range of nice-looking photos of my LED products, I also started experimenting with rendering images — and showing them together with actual photos of my LED products. So far I am happy with the result and look forward to finishing the UI design of the website and then also building and publishing the website and online shop, in July.

What comes next in July

My main focus will be finishing the new website and online shop — and publishing both. In the meantime, I will also collect the first orders for the DIY kits, to buy the electronics for those. Also, once I receive the PCBs for GlowCore, I will finish my bike with the new LED setup. And when it comes to workshops, I will start to plan in more detail what workshops I want to organize and when. Possibly starting the first workshop sometime in July. Also, I will fix the remaining issues with the MagiqWand electronics and update the design of GlowTube, including a USB-C-powered thinner version.

So a lot of exciting stuff to look forward to in July!




Hey, Marco here! Maker and LED enthusiast. Loves learning new skills and exploring the world.