If you need another idea for how to creatively diffuse LED lighting, then look no further than the “Light Me Up!” project by Hyewon Shin, Eunjeong Ko, and Junsung Yi.
Their setup uses 312 3D-printed and laser-cut light triangles, each of which contains a trio of RGB LEDs. Users select the desired light by pressing the triangles themselves, via buttons concealed beneath the main assembly. Several Arduino boards are used to control the massive structure.
With such an involved triangular display, a number of interesting 3D-like shapes and even words can be created by users. Alternatively, smaller triangle arrangements can also be constructed using the same build concepts.
This project has several triangles that form a hexagonal shape. So you can create stereoscopic patterns according to how you design light! Just press each piece and various colors will be gradated, and when the color you want comes out, just hit the hand you pressed and it will continue to shine beautifully with the color you wanted!
Check out its triangular luminescence in the videos below!
Infinity cubes use six mirrors arranged in such a way that they bounce light inside back and forth, making them appear to stretch on to infinity. While not the first to make such a device, Thomas Jensma created the frame for his as a single 3D-printed piece.
This method meant that the plexiglass mirrors surrounding the build are automatically quite flat, allowing the 144 LEDs inside to reflect beautifully with no adjustment. An external Arduino board controls the lights, producing an infinite number of patterns. A 5V supply is also used in order to power the assembly.
Instructions for the project can be found here, and with this simplified design, Jensma was able to construct his in a day for just $25 in parts.
Bob Clagett likes making holiday decorations. This year, however, he wanted to create something that didn’t just look nice, but was also interactive. What he came up with is a giant Christmas tree that is actually a video game!
His tree-shaped matrix uses seven rows of RGB LEDs attached to the top of the structure to drop simulated snowflakes, represented by white lights. The player moves a dot on the bottom right and left to dodge these falling flakes via a pair of large arcade-style buttons. When the controlling Arduino Mega sees that the player’s position is the same as a snowflake, the game ends.
To make our Christmas tree game light up in the way that we intend, we have to be able to control each LED in an entire strand of lights. Traditional lights just have power run to colored bulbs, which blink or stay lit all together. We found a strand of individually addressable LEDs that are made for outdoor use. This means that each light has a small circuit board attached to each bulb that will receive power and a data signal from a micro-controller. I’m using an Arduino as the micro-controller to send out a signal to each specific light among the many strands.
Our game is very simple, there is a “player” that is restrained to the lowest level of lights in our tree-shaped matrix. That “player” can move left or right to avoid falling “snow.” When the game is played, the player will move while white “snow” lights fall randomly from the top of the tree-shaped matrix. If the “player” and the “snow” occupy the same space on the matrix in the arduino code, you lose. When the game isn’t being played, I used a simple LED flash library to create a Christmasy-looking color series that flashes until someone activates the game.
Now that the game code is working, the lights are blinking appropriately, and the control buttons are moving the “player” around, it’s time to make it look like a tree. To do this, Josh and I drilled holes at even space along some thin PVC material and fed in the lights. Covering those light boards with ping pong balls will help diffuse the LED light and give the whole tree a polished and clean look. These seven LED light boards are then connected to a hub at the top of a 10-foot metal pole. To keep the pole firmly planted on the ground, I poured a bucket of concrete and fixed a pole holder into it.
When Amir Avni made a busy board for his then-one-year-old daughter, he left a variety of buttons and switches unconnected. While these were still likely interesting at the time, now that she’s two, he’s added an Arduino Mega-controlled 32×64 LED panel to the rig, taking advantage of these formerly unused input devices.
The busy board images are changed using four potentiometers positioned above it, which select two icons that are each displayed on half the screen. It can also act as a drawing board when the first one is set to its maximum value.
Below that, more potentiometers and some switches are implemented for further image control, along with a power switch to cut things off when playtime is done.
Their build, in fact, consists of 708 programmable LEDs arranged facing inward on the edges and doubled over on each vertex support. These supports lead to a central stainless steel ball, reflecting a massive amount of light to the surrounding area.
Everything is controlled by an Arduino Mega, along with an Uno-style prototyping shield, and power is provided by a massive 5V 60A supply unit.
If you’ve ever thought that your musical performance needed more LEDs, then James Bruton’s DJ helmet may be just the thing for you.
The YouTuber’s wearable device is built on the base of a protective face shield, substituting in a 3D-printed support for an 8×32 LED matrix, as well as four smaller 8×8 LED matrices arranged above and below the main section.
The 512 LEDs are powered using a portable LiPo battery and a 10A power regulator. Control is via an Arduino Mega, which is connected to an RJ45 jack that enables it to work with DMX lighting data.
The result is a spectacular display, shown off nicely in an electronic concert (with his barcode guitar) starting at around 8:20 in the video below!
The build was completed in sections and pieced together to form the model, with moss-covered land masses and cities represented by fiber optic LEDs.
Illumination is provided by a series of LED units, which combine white and yellow light that is transmitted to small drilled-out holes via a large number of fiber optic strands. An Arduino controls the lighting via N-channel MOSFETs, allowing it to randomly vary the output for a pleasing and realistic effect.
The setup uses 16 pairs of IR emitter and receivers arranged down the length of the bi-color 16×32 matrix to tell when one has inserted a finger or other object into an area. When sensed, it changes the corresponding column on the display from red to green or back again.
An Arduino Mega is used for overall control of the device, along with shift registers and multiplexers/demultiplexers to account for the massive amount of IO needed.
When riding a motorcycle, it’s important to be seen, and if other vehicles can see your brake lights and turn signals as well, all the better. To help with visibility, YouTuber “MechTools” outfitted his helmet with a brake light and turn indicators that activate along with the motorcycle’s built-in signals.
The video below shows off how it was built, using an Arduino Uno onboard the motorcycle, plus a Nano embedded in the helmet. A pair of nRF24L01 transceivers enable the two Arduinos to communicate wirelessly, and three TIP122 transistors controls the lighting directly for sufficient power output.
While a neat concept, be sure that you don’t compromise your helmet’s structural integrity or legality if you try something similar! Code is available in the video’s description.
Ping pong balls have long been known as excellent LED diffusers, but few have taken this technique as far as Thomas Jensma. His colorful clock features 128 LEDs, arranged in an alternating pattern, and housed in a stretched-out hexagonal wood frame.
For control, the device uses an Arduino Nano, along with a RTC module for accurate timekeeping. Demos of the clock can be seen below, cycling through numbers and testing out the FastLED library.
Code for the build is available in Jensma’s write-up. This also includes tips on using table tennis balls as diffusers, as well as how to create an orderly array out of these spheres—useful in a wide range of projects.