AMS Spring 2023

Let a 3D Printed Minecraft Nightlight Brighten Your Child’s World

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Regarding the title of this article, I am quite aware that it is not just children who are obsessed with Minecraft. In fact, I work with children of all ages, and one thing I am very aware of is that almost all children who play games play Minecraft. It’s a great unifying game: one that boys and girls, elementary and middle school aged, can all play and relate to. And there’s plenty of Minecraft-inspired paraphernalia out there too.

So when Matthew McMillan’s daughter, herself a fan of the game, asked him to make her “something Minecraft” with his 3D printer — there was no shortage of available options.  However, he went one step further and designed and printed his own Minecraft-themed nightlight.

In fact, a Minecraft nightlight is rather fitting, since the official game website explains that “Minecraft is a game about breaking and placing blocks. At first, people built structures to protect against nocturnal monsters, but as the gameIMG_6324 grew players worked together to create wonderful, imaginative things.”

Nightlights are necessary for some children, but they are also quite magical as they cast sometimes colorful lights and patterns across the wall, warding off nocturnal monsters, yes, and making it easier to fall asleep. They can be transfixing, helping people of all ages fall asleep. For someone who wants to stay up and play Minecraft instead of getting a good night’s sleep, this is a perfect transition from game time to sleep time.

Working off a Thingiverse design for a Minecraft ore, McMillan decided to transform it into a nightlight. He started looking at Thingiverse designs and found a Minecraft ore block. He explains how he used that design with “Adafruit Neopixel LED strips and an Adafruit Pro Trinket microcontroller to change the colors.”

minecraft nightlightOn his blog, he explains the whole process of making the light, including the 3D printed aspects of the project:

“The first step in this project was to 3D print the plastic parts. I printed the cube at 1.5 times the original size which made the final dimensions 105mm on each side. I had to print it with supports for the holes and a brim to minimize lifting from the print bed. It took almost 18 hours to print it. After it was done printing I realized there wasn’t good way to attach a base to the cube (other than glue) so I used OpenSCAD to add recessed corner posts with screw holes and reprinted it.”

After the 3D printing was complete, McMillan made the diffuser panels, assembled and wired the insert, breadboarded the control circuit, soldered the control board, added a connector for the power switch and power input, and then assembled all of the parts together. Oh, and he wrote the code, too.

Are you considering printing out one of these?  Let us know in the 3D Printed Minecraft Nightlight forum thread on 3DPB.com. You can check out how he controls the nightlight using his iPhone here, and there’s a video of how the light works below:

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