Get Media Alerts from Your Lamp with This Ikea Hack

Arduino Internet of Things Technology
Get Media Alerts from Your Lamp with This Ikea Hack


Mate Marschalko, who gave us the recent RC car over wireless and a racing wheel project now has a cool Ikea hack to share. He took an Ikea lamp and used a WiFi-enabled Arduino compatible microcontroller to create an alert notification light for his desk. He writes:


This IKEA lamp has been completely stripped and rebuilt using a Spark Core WiFi board and a 12v RGB LED strip. The desk lamp can now shine in 16 million different colors and be controlled from the ‘If This Then That’ app. I use it for notifications and set it to change to different colors when something happens with my emails, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. A visual notification center, I call it.

The project is not that complicated. All he basically used was an Ikea Lampan, a $19 Spark Core development board, a 12v adapter, an LED light strip, and a breadboard with some basic control electronics. The only tricky bit was getting the 3.3v output on the Spark Core to control the LED strip, which requires 12v.

To solve this problem I used an NPN transistor which can switch the 12v for the LEDs. The transistor has 3 legs. One leg takes the 12V input from my adapter, the other leg takes the 5v control signal from the Arduino’s output pin and we also have a third, output pin. When the Arduino sends signal (5v/HIGH) from the output pin it switches the 12V on on the output pin, when there’s no signal from the Arduino (0v/LOW) the output goes back to 0v.


One cool part of this project is that it makes use of If This Than That (IFTTT) service. Mate explains:

IFTTT is an amazing service that allows you to create personal “recipes” consisting of a Trigger event and an Action. Triggers are notifications from popular services like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google Calendar, or Gmail, events from physical devices like the Nest thermostat, the Netatmo personal weather station, or all of WeMo’s smart home accessories. Actions can also be chosen from a list of dozens of services and devices, 167 channels in total.

Mate uses his lamp to alert him to incoming emails, tweets, Facebook posts, etc. You can assign different colors to different alert types. I’m at a point in my digital life where I’m turning off as many alerts as possible, but I can still see plenty of useful applications for a visual alert system like this.

1 thought on “Get Media Alerts from Your Lamp with This Ikea Hack

  1. memeboy says:

    Great writeup!
    /edit suggestion:
    “If This _THEN_ That”

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

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