LightScythe is a two meter long stick to draw pictures into the air while taking a photograph using long time expsoure. The two meter stick has LED’s on it which light up to draw the picture column wise.

Aus LightScythe

My LightScythe is based on The Mechatronics Guy‘s implementation. Thanks to him for sharing his idea! This implementation reads the pictures from a USB flash disk and extends the functionality with a remote shutter function for Nikon DSLR cameras and two buttons to select a picture.

Part List

To create a LightScythe you need the following parts


Aus LightScythe Hardware

You can download my Schema here. The connection of the LightScythe is from


My LightScythe Software is written using the default Arduino IDE. I’m using some libraries:

You can find the source code of the Arduino Firmware on Github:

Install the libraries above and download the Firmware from the Github Website using the Download button on the Top-Right side. Unpack the ZIP file to your sketch folder and download the firmware.


You can created pictures using any software. But you need to store your picture in a specific Format:

  • Filename: Number + “.bmp” (e.g. 1.bmp)
  • 4-Bit indexed BMP-File (8-Bit is WIP)
  • The pictures need to be rotated counter clockwise by 90°

The rotation is needed because the BMP file format saves the picture column-wise. But the LightScythe Firmware needs the picture row-wise. The CPU would need to much RAM to turn the picture itself, and it would make the firmware also more complicated.

I use a specific Color palette which only contains the color my LightScythe supports. I use GIMP to create the pictures and created a 3-Bit palette. I Usually do the following steps:

  1. Create a new Picture (Height 64 Pixel, Width whatever needed)
  2. Draw/Paste something
  3. Picture => Transformation => 90° Counter Clockwise
  4. Picture => Mode => Indexed… => (Import/Choose the LightScythe 3-Bit Color palette)
  5. Save the picture as Bitmap file (ending *.bmp)

Copy the picture on a USB flash disk. The flash disk need to be formated with a FAT-Filesystem. You should make sure you don’t have any important files on your USB flash disk! I do not take responsibility for data loss! 🙂

  1. Hi I’m Jade
    I’m trying to figure how to build one of theses I have most of the parts on order but I relay need to figure out how the parts go together I’m not great with electronics but I understand most things so any help you can offer would be great .

    Im hoping to use in as part of a final year project for my degree again any help you can offer would be great .


    Jade Stewart

Leave a Comment