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Build an affordable color mixer box for photography

Arduino TeamDecember 6th, 2022

Lighting is the single most important factor when it comes to capturing good photos. For a conventional setup, you probably want diffuse, indirect light in a natural color. But you can get more creative with the use of colored light. RGB box lights let you set whatever hue you want, but they aren’t cheap. Arnov Sharma’s color mixer box is both affordable and versatile.

This is a relatively small light box and so it alone isn’t suitable for lighting an entire scene, unless you want a dark and moody feel. But it is perfect for adding colored highlights or illuminating small objects in close-up photos. Three knobs let you adjust the color channels, so you can dial in the exact hue you want. An OLED display shows each channel’s set brightness and that makes it easy to reproduce colors that you set in the past. Power can come from either a USB cable or a battery pack.

To build this color mixer box, you’ll first need Sharma’s DIY WS2812 individually addressable RGB LED matrix. That puts 128 LEDs on a single PCB in a 16×8 grid. An Arduino Nano board controls the LEDs according to the brightness values set by the three potentiometers. The settings readout is an SSD1306-based OLED screen. A PCB breadboard will make it easy to assemble the components and a simple 3D-printed frame piece holds everything together. The Arduino sketch utilizes Adafruit’s SSD1306 and NeoPixel libraries, and simply sets every LED to the same color chosen with the potentiometers.