Assembling Mood Light

This tutorial will guide you through how to assemble your Mood Light kit. Use Mood Light as a night light on your bedside table, or just sit it on your desk or bookcase.

It uses our Unicorn pHAT* RGB LED board that has 32 programmable pixels that you can code in any one of a zillion ways - have it fade through all the colours of the rainbow, use it to reflect your mood on Twitter, have it fade through colours that match sunset and sunrise, or flash when someone mentions you on Twitter.

The assembly will be split into two parts: soldering the headers to your Pi Zero W and Unicorn pHAT, and assembling and screwing together the acrylic pieces.

  • Please note that in late 2020 we updated this kit to be solderless, and to replace the now retired Unicorn pHAT with a shiny new Unicorn HAT Mini.

  • If you've got one of these newer kits you can skip the soldering sections - your Pi and Unicorn HAT Mini will come with their headers pre-attached!

  • Because Unicorn HAT Mini's LEDs work differently to the ones on Unicorn pHAT (they're non-addressable RGB LEDs, made individually controllable with two onboard LED matrix driver chips), you'll need to use this library and associated tutorial - the Unicorn HAT/pHAT library mentioned below won't work.

It should take around 30 minutes to assemble everything.

Soldering the headers

Both the Pi Zero W and the Unicorn pHAT boards will need a 2x20 pin header attached. Your Mood Light kit comes with a male 2x20 pin header for the Zero W and a female 2x20 pin header for the Unicorn pHAT.

We have a guide here that you can follow to learn how to solder headers to pHATs. Soldering the male header to the Zero W is essentially just the same process, except the header should be soldered on top. The photos below show how each header should look when soldered.

If you don't own a soldering iron, or you're just not a pro-solderer yet, then you could use one of our nifty hammer headers that don't require any soldering at all. Our hammer header kit comes with a male header, female header, and a jig to safely and securely attach them to your Pi Zero/Zero W and pHAT.

Assembling the acrylic pieces

You should have the following pieces:

  • clear frosted front layer
  • yellow lamp fitting insert
  • white middle layer
  • white back layer
  • 2x white leg retainers
  • 2x white legs with rubber feet attached
  • 6x M3 white nylon bolts and nuts
  • 4x M2.5 white nylon bolts and nuts

Before you do anything, peel the protective film off all of the pieces of acrylic!

Take the frosted front layer, with the side that has the etched lightbulb design on facing upwards and push through the 6 M3 white nylon bolts from the front. Flip it over and lay it face down.

Now, take the white middle layer (the one without the rectangular cutouts) and place it on top of the front layer, sliding it onto the bolts.

The remaining white layer goes on next, and the yellow lamp fitting insert fits into the gap at the top.

You'll now need to attach your Pi Zero W to the frosted mounting plate. Place it on top of the mounting plate so that the header sits in the cut-out, and use the four M2.5 bolts and nuts to attach it, trimming the excess bolt off with a pair of snips if you wish.

Clip the mounting plate with Pi Zero on into the slots on the two legs as shown in the picture below. The little clips should hold the plate in place.

Take the two white leg retainers with the cut-out curve at the bottom and slot one onto each leg, and then place them onto the other layers, so that the protruding parts of the legs fit into the recesses on the back layer.

Bolt everything tightly together, securing the 6 M3 bolts with the nuts, and trimming the excess bolts off with a pair of snips if you wish.

Attaching the Unicorn pHAT

All that remains is to fit the Unicorn pHAT. Pop it on top of your Zero W's male header, being careful to ensure that all of the pins are lined up correctly.

You can test that it's working as it should by following our Getting Started with Unicorn pHAT or Getting Started with Unicorn HAT Mini tutorials.

That's all folks!

Search above to find more great tutorials and guides.

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