Check out this amazing accent wall you can add to your space, and it can read the air quality of the room! We used some inexpensive materials and a simple air quality sensor to make an accent wall that can save your lungs.
1. Decide on a Design
In our new office, we have a very long and boring room. After painting it, we decided it needed an accent wall to make the space look cool. Meighan, our new marketing director, suggested that we do a geometric wall feature and we took that idea one nerdy step further. Josh used Fusion 360 to design a huge circuit pattern using panels that protruded from the wall. Rather than using thin 1-by material to push off the wall, the thin space will be recessed and filled with LED light.
I used our giant Avid CNC and Full-Spectrum laser to cut out all the panels and arranged them on the floor. To make the panels push off the wall, I cut up some 1/2″ insulation foam from the home center, cutting them smaller than the wall panels so you don’t see them. High temperature hot glue worked perfectly to adhere the thin MDF panels to the foam. Once they were all mounted, it was time to stick them to the wall.
2. Mount the Panels
While some of the geometric panels were rather large, they weren’t very heavy. The decision to use 3mm thick MDF and lightweight insulation was a good one. I used a spacer to place the panels on the wall and brad nailed them in place. Because Josh modeled the room in Fusion 360, we were able to use the spacer and place each panel exactly where they belonged. We also had to replace the ornate door trim lining the french doors. The new trim will hide the LED strip that will display the air quality warnings in the next step. After a coat of paint, we were ready to add the sensor.
3. Program the LEDs
At this point, you could stop and have an amazing looking accent wall. It looked fantastic and really matched our nerdy aesthetic, but of course, we wanted to go a step further. This accent wall is outside of our CNC/Laser room. These machines create dust and fumes that are harmful for your lungs if not properly ventilated and filtered. While yes, we do have a lot of air filtration in the room already, I wanted a sensor that constantly check the air quality to make sure we were being safe. To do that, I am going to use a simple air quality sensor and an Arduino Uno.
These sensors use lasers to measure the amount of particulates in the air. Some air quality sensors measure things like VOCs and carbon monoxide, but this one measures dust and smoke. The code that came with the sensor had micro-gram per cubic meter levels pre-programed into it. It was incredibly simple to hook up the sensor to the Arduino and run the output to the RGB LED strip. After powering the LEDs and the Arduino separately, the system was ready to test. After testing the clean office air, a CNC milling MDF, and a laser without filtration, I could set those values as LED colors around the door. Now when the air quality reaches cautious limits, the door frame illuminates to Blue, Yellow, or Red. It is awesome!
The Perfect Mix of Form and Function
I really love how awesome this accent wall looks in the office. But I am super happy that the air quality sensor works just like we hoped. The machines in that room are properly ventilated and the air is quite clean. This sensor wall is just a failsafe that will notify us if those conditions change. It was also really nice to dive into the health recommendations of dusty rooms and know that we are doing a great job of keeping people safe.Get The Arduino Code!
(purchasing via these affiliate links supports ILTMS)
- DeWalt Oscillating Tool
- Arrow Fastener Brad Nailer
- Arrow Fastener Glue Gun
- Oneida Gorilla Dust Collector
- Shop Fox Hanging Air Cleaner
- Classic steel ruler (cork backed)
- Box Cutters (for eva foam)
Finishes & adhesives I like:
- Paint Color: Holly Glen from PPG
- Air Quality Sensor
- RGB LED Strip
- Arduino Uno (just the Uno)
- Arduino Uno Kit
- Arcade buttons
- Raspberry Pi 3
- jumpers (Male to Female)
- Soldering iron
- Third hand kit
- Wire strippers (not the ones I have, but good ones)
- Thin solder
- Anti static mat
- Fiskars cutting mat
- Plastic parts cabinet (24 drawer)
- Plastic parts cabinet (64 drawer)
- Precision Screw driver kit