Laser-engraved Raspberry Pi hologram

Inspired by an old episode of Pimoroni’s Bilge Tank, and with easy access to the laser cutter at the Raspberry Pi Foundation office, I thought it would be fun to create a light-up multi-layered hologram using a Raspberry Pi and the Pimoroni Unicorn pHAT.

Break it to make it

First, I broke down the Raspberry Pi logo into three separate images — the black outline, the green leaves, and the red berry.

Fun fact: did you know that Pimoroni’s Paul Beech designed this logo as part of the ‘design us a logo’ contest we ran all the way back in August 2011?

Once I had the three separate files, I laser-engraved them onto 4cm-wide pieces of 3mm-thick clear acrylic. As there are four lines of LEDs on the Unicorn pHAT, I cut the fourth piece to illuminate the background.


To keep the engraved acrylic pieces together, I cut out a pair of acrylic brackets (see above) with four 3mm indentations. Then, after a bit of fiddling with the Unicorn pHAT library, I was able to light the pHAT’s rows of LEDs in white, red, green, and white.


The final result looks pretty spectacular, especially in the dark, and you can build on this basic idea to create fun animations — especially if you use a HAT with more rows of LEDs.


This is just a prototype. I plan on building a sturdier frame for the pieces that securely fits a Raspberry Pi Zero W and lets users replace layers easily. As with many projects, I’m sure this will grow and grow as each interaction inspires a new add-on.

How would you build upon this basic principle?


…we also laser-engraved this Cadbury’s Creme Egg.



Blog post with a genuine “Easter Egg” ;-)


Are we just calling anything a hologram now?

Janina Ander

Yes, anything. Giraffes, helicopters, sand, the colour mauve, the creeping feeling of loneliness you get at 3.45 in the morning — all holograms.


I now want to make one based on the old animated neon signs.


My favourite part of this whole post was the cream egg


My unfavouritest part is the title.
Alex, are you as Social Media Editor, trying to desensitise us to fake news? Just because a laser is involved at some stage in the manufacture doesn’t make it a hologram.
Please re-title more accurately.
To be more constructive, may I suggest using the project to illustrate the layered structure of an SVG file (other image formats are available).

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