Låda, a custom project box system


HALO is an EL-Wire night light. Photo by Emily Shaw

Project boxes can be a real pain. You can get a standard size box from a place like Radio Shack or you can make your own custom box. If you have access to a laser cutter, you can make yourself t-slotted boxes.  While the t-slotted boxes do the trick, the open slots leave an unfinished look to projects.

I wanted a more polished look for my latest clock, so I set out designing Låda.  The Låda (or Lada) Sytem, based on standardized 3D printed corner and edge pieces and custom laser cut face pieces, allows you to define a box of any size bigger than about an inch and a half on a side.  A program written in Python does all of the tedious calculations for you and spits out a PDF file.  Custom openings can be added with InkScape to accommodate stand-offs, buttons, cords an sensors.lada_diagram

The edge and corner pieces have mounting holes 0.4″ from the inside face.  They have an elevated platform to cradle your project.  Hex cutouts captivate a M3 nut so that once installed, they remain in place and the box allowing the final face to be screwed into place.  +Kevin Osborn has been keeping our 3D printing non-stop so that now I have plenty of Lada pieces to play with.


HALO consists of an AlaMode, a Grove Shield, and an EL-inverter. Photo by Emily Shaw

The Lada system works fine for small projects like the EL-Wire night light seen above.  It also works with larger projects, like the Kandinsky Klock (or Kandy) for short.


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About the projects:

Halo is an EL-Wire night light configured to outline a doorway.  It helps to prevent falls by both providing light, and creating a frame of reference to orient you if you need to be up in the middle of the night.  I made it for my father who could use a little assistance getting to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  The idea comes from a story I heard on NPR.

Halo was easily assembled from: an AlaMode,the Grove Starter Kit, and a USB based EL-Wire inverter.

A special thanks to +Kevin Osborn who lined me out on what I needed to drive EL-Wire and pointed that the Grove Started Kit had everything I needed aside from the inverter.

Kandy is a two-sided mountain bike race timer that I’d promised to build for my collage roommate two years ago.  It is 4 TiM boards with c prototype LED controller called TiNA.  It is bluetooth controlled (thanks to the FTDI compatible BlueFruit module).  I think it is worth the wait.

None of these projects would be possible without Anool’s tireless work designing amazingly flexible circuit boards.

NOOBS distribution now supported in AlaMode Setup

When the NOOBs method of creating an SD card for Raspberry Pi came out, we began to get reports that the AlaMode setup caused the Pi to crash (kernal panic, etc.)

At the time, I didn’t have time to look at it and just recommended sticking to the pure Raspbian image.

AlaMode setup now works for NOOBS as well as Raspbian. Updated links, and instructions are on the getting started page  You can grab the updated setup bundle at:

Note that this script references install locations for the Arduino IDE that have only been verified for the Raspbian distro. NOOBS allows you to install other distros, but this will probably only work for the raspbian option (tested) and the other raspbian variants (such as scratch).

The problem was in turning off the console output to the serial port (used for programming AlaMode) we overwrote the cmdline.txt which controls booting. Because NOOBS isn’t a pure linux image, the partitioning of the SD card is different, and the referenced device for where the linux Kernel lives was incorrect (it was correct for pure Raspbian).

If you’re curious, this was fixed by using sed (stream editor) to remove the console references, leaving partitioning references intact.