Ever since I first illuminated an LED I have wanted to build a custom bluetooth enabled theatre light using a Raspberry Pi.

Aims of the project:

Build a full size theatre lantern with colour changing LEDs which operated off 5V and could be controlled without logging into the Pi over wifi.

The project started with 3D printing the lantern using this project from Thingiverse.

Stage-inspired LED Spotlight by Depronized
Published on January 20, 2017

The lantern was printed at 400% with 15% infill.


Once printed I looked at options for illumination,

I knew that a Raspberry Pi Zero W would be the starting point for controlling it, which is partly why I scaled the print to 400% to accommodate it.

Secondly illumination – I knew that running the lantern only 5V was never going to produce the brightest light but for version 1 this would suffice. As I look at further improvements i am going to consider changing the project to 12V and using brighter LEDs / pixels.

I eventually decided on using two Unicorn pHATs connected in parallel so that both displayed the same pattern. After a bit of fiddling with the Python library I agreed with Pimoroni that 100% true brightness is too bright and also draws too much current and started to melt the plastic on my jumper cables.

I decided that two pHATs would be better than one HAT as I could form a V shape in the middle part of the lantern. This seemed to work well. As I was only using three GPIO pins on each pHAT i directly soldered the cables to the pHATs.


Initial results were very encouraging whilst this will never light up a stage running at 5V it does give a decent amount of light as a feature light.

Click here to see the lantern in action.

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