Light Graffiti Made With The Wave Of A Magic Wand

Get your tickets to this light show.

After bright lights fade in the dark, our eyes can still see them as streaks, smears, and dots. Engineer Phillip Burgess drew inspiration from this “bug” of human vision to build the NeoPixel Painter: a meter-long strip of multicolor LEDs controlled by a palm-size computer. When swept across a camera’s view during a long exposure, the device rapidly blinks out an image, one column of pixels at a time, to create art in midair. So far Burgess has painted twisted rainbows, flying dragons, a map of Earth, and other complex digital graffiti using a customized bicycle.

Download a PDF of instructions to build the NeoPixel Painter here.

This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Popular Science.

Jeremy Cook
Jeremy Cook

is a freelance tech journalist who spent over a decade in manufacturing automation. In addition to writing, he loves to experiment and build, creating everything from walking robots to furniture. When he’s not writing or making something, he enjoys spending time with his family outdoors and in the water where he lives in Florida. You can find Jeremy’s exploits on YouTube and Twitter, or catch him talking to other makers and techno-creators on The Creativity Podcast.