Ceiling Mod

Anna and I were talking about my inordinate love of LED blinky things. She says that if something has LEDs all over it, I’ll buy it. That may be true.

She likes low-light because she‘s a vampire works the night shift, and suggested that maybe I could rig up some kind of lighting for the bedroom ceiling. This is how it worked out:

That’s an extension cord, with an etekcity wireless outlet controller, with a 12v 2a iPhone charger/transformer. So, there’s a couple of wireless remotes floating around that you can push and it switches the power.

There are these USB power distribution blocks you can buy on Ebay; they’re switch-controlled and distribute 12v to up to 6 devices. I assembled it on top of the curtain rod support using zip ties. The power cord tails down one side of the curtains to the transformer/switch setup.

The rest of the process was a bit painful but it was just time-consuming. I took 4 long chains of seed LED lights and a box of push-pins, then sort of meandered them around the ceiling, push-pinning like mad until they were kind of random-looking. Once that was done, I took this chiffon cloth I bought on Ebay, which is a special kind that makes these star-burst patterns of light (it’s a whopping $5/yard) and formed an over-sized piece by gluing a few strips together with fabri-tac, then tucking and pinning with another layer of push-pins.

When there’s no ambient light from outside, i.e.: it’s dark, it looks like you’re at the bottom of some kind of ocean, or nebula, or something.

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Other light in the room comes from a table lamp and a tensor lamp. The tensor has an ultraviolet LED in it, and the table lamp has an RGB LED, which is usually set to magenta. With the string-lights turned off at night, the ceiling looks like clouds:


  1. lorn says


    Not that I would even think it now … but back in the day there would be a certain Pink Floyd/ Tangerine Dream mix tape and a bong involved.

    Very creative.

  2. DonDueed says

    For some reason, Larry Niven’s “soft weapon” comes to mind. You’ve created a soft ceiling.

  3. rq says

    This is lovely! I have to show Husband – we do an annual Canadian Thanksgiving thingy with lots of people, and the first year we did it, we realized we needed the space of one of the unrenovated rooms, so we ‘ceilinged’ it with yards of leftover fabric, and it still looks pretty cool (a bit carnival tent, but shinier because shiny fabric!). But, every year, Husband works out a different lighting scheme, because he likes playing with that sort of thing, but we’ve also been talking about redoing that ceiling because there’s only so many years you can do a large event with the same ceiling, you know? This idea seems to cover both bases. So. :) Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. says

    Anna had to stop me because I was going “maybe if I made two power distribution chains and added a usb relay and an arduino board, I could make it occasionally flicker blue, like lightning…”

    (there’s that display I posted about a year ago, which is simulated indoor thunder clouds. I’m not sure if I can find the link.. Well, it’s: wired)

  5. kestrel says

    That is so cool! I love the idea of a lightning flicker, but yeah: I can see one could get carried away. That’s a great idea though and looks really good.

    Of course if you really love having weather patterns at night you can always just sleep outside where they are provided for free. Not quite as cozy as sleeping indoors though… Your idea is better come to think of it. No mosquitoes to go along with your weather.

  6. rq says

    If we do the lightning, I will let you know. :D So long as there’s no rain…
    But that’s exactly the kind of over-excitement I’ve had to deflate on occasion, too, though usually my excuse is “Not Enough Time!!”.

  7. lorn says

    Big-box stores, Wally and Target for example, are good sources for free LED lights. Particularly, but not exclusively around the holidays, Strings of them are sold in disposable display cases that allow, at the press of a switch, you to see a short string on the lights illuminated. Typically there are a half dozen LEDs, a switch and a battery pack in each box of 50 or so. Sometimes the quality of the components is remarkably good.

    These are discarded by the dozens when the boxes are empty. Talk to the clerk or manager and they will let you have them for free. Ive talked to three different clerks and never has one said no. Fact is that at Wally World we have taken to just tossing the empty case with the light into the shopping cart. The cashiers just nod and wave them through.

    I used a couple of these to rig up working lights on my neighbor’s daughter’s doll house.