Project I-Love-Lamp: Adafruit Qualia + Lamp

Hi dere, internet.

It’s me, the human embodiment of a baloney sandwich, at it again.


Recently, one of my favorite sites in the whole Multiverse, Adafruit, released a new product called the Qualia Board! If you haven’t heard, this little board makes it easy to use your iPad Retina (3/4) screen, as a secondary monitor! That’s 2048×1536 resolution on a ~10 inch panel. Pretty fantastic.

I purchased one of the bareboards and got to work. (There’s also this awesome kit, if hand rolling is not your thing. The kit is pretty rad all on it’s own.) The idea is, to take the iPad screen, mount it in an iPad shell, and mount the iPad shell onto a lamp base! I did something similar in one of my previous projects with a broken Nexus 7. I really am happy with my little N7 Lamp, so I decided to give it another shot with something a little bigger.


Adafruit Qualia Board

iPad Retina Screen

Hampton Bay Architect’s Lamp (22 in. Matte Black)

Display Port (Full Size) to MiniDisplayPort (It MUST be DisplayPort, you cannot use a converter.)

12V-9V 1A Supply

I used: iPad 1 Back Panel

(You could probably do better with an iPad 3 Back Panel, but I couldn’t easily find one for cheap enough.)

Machine Screws:

8x 2x8mm

2x 3x12mm

2x #3 Flat Washers

12x #2 Metric Hex Nut

2x #3 Metric Hex Nut


Grinder/Dremel Tool

Power Drill with various bits

Needlenose Pliers

Philips Screwdriver (or a flat, whatever head you chose for your machine screws)


Sheet of 8×11 Paper


The Plan:

First thing’s first. Take your drill, choose the appropriate size (one size larger than the silver rivets holding the lamp head to the arm), and drill out those pesky rivets. Snip and pull the AC cord out from the body of the lamp arm.






Next, place your Qualia board onto the 8×11 sheet of paper. Trace it with the Sharpie. The ribbon cable for the screen will exit the LCD to the left middle of the iPad backing, if you have it mounted horizontally, so you have to cut it a whole to run it to your Qualia board. Trace a smaller rectangle inside the one you made when tracing your Qualia board, about 75% of the original size. This will be the template you use to cut the whole in your iPad backing. I completely botched this part of mine, and cut the hole too big, so I added some perfboard to mount the Qualia to.



Be sure to add some insulating material between the Qualia and the iPad backing. It’s conductive aluminum, and will potentially short it, otherwise. Test fit your iPad screen into the backing, make sure the ribbon can reach the board easily. It should not be bent in a strange way, or it can be damaged. It’s very easily broken, so be careful when handling the ribbon cable. Mark the 4 holes of the Qualia on the iPad backing (using your 8×11 sheet), and drill them using a #2+ drill bit. Mount the Qualia using 4x of your 2x8mm machine screws and the corresponding bolts.

Place your 8×11 sheet up to the end of the lamp arm, and mark the paper for the two oval holes. Use this as a template to drill the two holes in your iPad backing, where you’d like the arm to mount. I chose dead center (because the arm can go portrait/landscape). Use a #3+ drill bit. Place the 2x 3x12mm screws through the end of the lamp arm, through the iPad backing, put on the 2x #3 flat washers, and then thread on the #3 nuts on both screws. Make sure these are secure.

Now, place your iPad screen atop the 8×11 sheet of paper. Mark the 4 holes for the mounting bracket. Double check once more that the ribbon cable from the screen reaches and plugs in properly. Now, place your paper atop your iPad backing, and drill out the 4 mounting screw holes. Same drill bit that you used for the Qualia mounting points. Put your other 4 2x8mm screws through the backing, thread a single nut on each screw. Now, place your iPad screen onto those 4 bolts. Put another single nut on each screw to secure the screen in place. Connect your screen ribbon cable.



Plug in your DP and power cables, and run them down the arm. I secured mine with zip ties. Just make sure you leave the appropriate amount of slack on the cables, so that the arm can flex properly, or you’ll limit your motion.



Kapow! Done!



I love that this thing articulates. My at-home desk is a very small table, and previously I did not have enough room for a second monitor. I’m addicted to having one thanks to my work-desk, so this totally beats that problem. It’s a neat little gadget. It could be a lot nicer looking if you used a donor broken iPad 3/4 as your shell, but I only spent 15$ on the iPad 1 backing, which is pretty cool for a sweet piece of a aluminum like that. Same goes for finding a 10 inch capacitive touch panel to place over the screen, but… that’s not that easy.


Project CarFire: RasPi-based In-Car Music Streaming Box

Hi. This is a short little project I whipped up on my lunch break today.


I recently saw this hack floating around the Intertubes. The basic run-down is that an Airport Express (A1392) has it’s power supply replaced with a 12V->5V->3.3V step down sequence, so it can run off of a car’s DC power. It is then setup to pipe audio to the car’s audio system. It’s a really neat hack, I wish I had thought of this when I drove down to Florida from New England.

I decided to spin my own version of this from components I had lying around. I wasn’t keen on spending 100$ on a new Airport Express when I could whip my own up for free! I used a WAP54G, as I have many of them lying around, and it runs on 5V direct. This is nice because the RasPi also uses straight 5V, which means I’d only have to step the voltage down once.


I am not responsible for your actions if you choose to follow this tutorial. Miswiring could cause serious property damage, risks to your vehicle, and life. Seriously, be very careful. Your cigarette outlet is protected by a fast-blow fuse (on most vehicles), but that does not give you a license to do anything stupid. You’ve been warned.


Raspberry Pi with 4GB SD Card (Rasbian Preloaded)3.5mm Male to Male Cable
Micro-USB Cable
USB Extension Cable
Voltage Regulator (I used the LM317, but any ~14V->5V will work.)
Linksys/Cisco WAP54G V2
Garmin GPS Power Cable/Cigarette Power Adapter Without Regulator


Install DD-WRT on your WAP54G/WRT54G

Install Rasbian On Your RasPi

Install/Compile Shairport

Make sure you set Shairport to start when your Raspberry Pi boots, and test that it comes up properly. Configure your DD-WRT with a DHCP server, and disable the Internet Connection. Being that the WAP only has 1 Ethernet port, you cannot easily do other routing. However, with the WRT this is not the case. I’m not sure if you can run a DHCP server on the default Linksys firmware on the WAP, but I don’t believe you can. DD-WRT is much more powerful, I recommend it.

We start by chopping the end off of the Garmin power cable. My power cable came from a Street Pilot C550, which has a barrel jack connector. I am not covering the other type found on later Garmin models. The barrel is center positive.

Cut the Garmin adapter wire 3/4 the way to the barrel jack connector. Strip the wires on the side with the cigarette adapter. Red goes to IN+ on your LM317 board/circuit. White goes to IN-. Solder these in place, if you haven’t already. If you have an adjustable regulator, move your trimpot until your output is 5V.

Strip and solder the Red and White wires on the barrel connector side of the cable to OUT+ and OUT-. The barrel will fit into the power supply on the WAP54G! So, no other adapting necessary. If you have a WRT54G, your router uses 12V input, and this will not work at all. You will have to power your router straight from the 12V coming off the cigarette socket.

The Garmin cable has a built-in quick-blow fuse, that’s hidden under the tip of the cigarette socket adapter. If the red indicator LED on the socket adapter is mysteriously not working, check this fuse by unscrewing the cap.

Now, snip the male end of your USB extension cable off. Strip the female end’s insulation, peel back the shield, and snip the green and white wires. Solder the Black wire to the OUT- on your VREG circuit, and the Red wire to OUT+. Plug your Micro-USB cable into the Female end and test to see that your RasPi starts up. If it doesn’t, or if you see your USB device enumeration going crazy, try a different Micro-USB cable. If the problem persists, your VREG may not be supplying enough current. The WAP and the Pi together should pull close to 1 amp under full load, and a bit less when quiet.

Connect an Ethernet cable between the RasPi and the WAP, and make sure that it assigns the RasPi an IP address when the interface is brought up. Now, attach the RasPi and the VREG to the casing of the WAP somehow (I chose to mount everything on an aluminum plate… Not very efficient or elegant, but I think it looks awesomely crazy.) Tape up all of your connections to prevent shorts, and verify that it works! Name your wireless network something snazzy. I named mine ‘CarFire’. I also added a giant heatsink, since the processor on the WAP was getting pretty hot. Necessary? Absolutely not. Hilarious? Yes, very.