As they say a lot can happen over a coffee, so Utkarsh Kumar Gupta (my mentor) and I 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 the 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 our table should 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 this combination is popularly known as Pixel LEDs. Meanwhile, then Utkarsh came up with the design and decided to keep it a square shaped coffee table.

Starting with the basic structure I first marked 8mm thick plywood after a few calculations, then made the required cuts using circular saw and table saw. Now, needed 196 holes for LEDs were drilled which was one of the many time consuming tasks. After a lot 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 stay permanent.

From drilling 196 holes to bonding LEDs to board, the madness didn’t stop. So, the grid was cut out of 4mm sun-board and was 2 inches high from the base-board so as to give LEDs a good diffusion 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 a lot of thought 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 W O W. 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.

I also designed another version made fully out of acrylic. You can check it out below.

A creative technologist interested in exploring non-screen based human computer interactions

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Akshay Baweja

Akshay Baweja

A creative technologist interested in exploring non-screen based human computer interactions

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