Our favourite maker tools: the Pixelstick

At the MakerBus we’ve had the pleasure of testing a lot of different maker tools. We’ve written about maker tools that we don’t recommend, but this new series will share tools that we absolutely love. Tools that make adults feel like kids, and make kids feel like they have the power to create anything.

Today’s post is all about the pixelstick – the coolest photography tools we’ve ever used.

The pixelstick is a tool for light painting. In a nutshell, light painting involves taking a long exposure photograph and dragging a light source through the frame. Since a long exposure photograph records all the light entering the frame, the light source leaves a trail of light in the photo.


The pixelstick takes light painting to an entirely new level. The pixelstick is made up of 200 programmable RGB LEDs. Each LED acts like a pixel on a screen, displaying an image one vertical line at a time as you walk. These vertical lines, when captured with a long exposure photograph, combine to recreate your image in mid air. This allows you to take pictures that have images that seem to appear magically in the background.

So how is this a maker tool? The science of light is fascinating and photography is a great way to make the science of light more tangible and engaging. The pixelstick allows makers to transform photography for new, cool, and creative purposes.

We did a pop-up visit to a literary festival and used the pixelstick to allow students to take selfies with fire-breathing dragons.


We used the pixelstick at a library to overlay historic photos over contemporary landscapes, showing a blending of the past and present. We’ve also combined the pixelstick with different LED projects, allowing students to build their own light sources to light paint with.

Great maker tools allow you to explore the world in new ways, and the pixelstick allows you to do just that. After spending a few minutes experimenting with this amazing maker tool, you’ll never look at photography quite the same way again.


What are your favourite maker tools? Have you used a pixelstick before? Share your wisdom in the comments. We’d love to hear about your experiences. Also, follow us on social media (Facebook,  Twitter,  Instagram,  Youtube) for the latest maker movement news, tips, and tutorials – let us help you create fun-conventional learning opportunities!

-Ryan Hunt, MakerBus Co-Founder

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