The LightScythe Makes Incomparable Light Paintings

This hacked together strip of LEDs turns light painting up to 11.

Light Scythe
Light Scythe

Gavin from Sydney, aka Mechatronics, has hacked together an unbearably impressive but comparatively simple piece of hardware. Dubbed the LightScythe, it's a two-meter long strip of programmable LEDs, controlled by a small receiver, and data sent from a nearby computer. With all the details on his homepage — and more shots on Flickr — it's a genius way of getting some incredibly detailed images out of light painting and long exposures.

Using an Arduino brain for the LightScythe, Gavin has it set up to convert fonts into the flashing lights, or even convert images into low-quality versions. The real trick is walking smoothly across the 10-15 second exposures in order to get it looking right. Sure, you could throw it on a basic dolly, but that ruins half the charm.

While it's not quite as detailed as light painting with a laptop or iPad, the additional size makes for large and dynamic strips of bright color and interesting banner compositions. You have to love that all the information is up and free online, so that anyone who wants to can put together a rig exactly like this, and give it a try.