Unless you’re a professional prop maker, it’s unlikely that your projects will ever show up on TV. As much as the maker community has grown, making is still a pretty niche hobby. As such, the most the majority of us can hope for is that one of our projects achieves its 15 minutes of internet fame. But every now and then, a maker manages to break the mold. That was the case with Jiří Praus’ freeform magic balloon lamp project, which was built for and featured on the Czech Republic’s TV NOVA show Víkend.
Víkend (“weekend” in Czech) is a weekly show that focuses on interesting things going on within the country. The producers had noticed that Praus’ work had been getting a lot of attention online around the world, and asked him to make a project for the show so that they could showcase how he went about building it. What he decided to make is a freeform magic balloon lamp, which is gesture-controlled to provide interesting light animation effects.
The lamp is designed to look like a hot air balloon, with a wooden pedestal acting as the passenger basket and brass rods forming the balloon itself. At the top of the balloon is a PAJ7620U2 gesture sensor, which can recognize nine individual gestures. Near the bottom of the balloon there are 12 WS2812B individually-addressable RGB LEDs. Inside of the wood pedestal is an Arduino Nano, which monitors the gesture sensor and controls the LEDs. With a simple swipe of the hand, the LED animation effects or colors can be changed. That makes this one of the coolest freeform projects we’ve seen — and not just because it ended up on TV.