• Question: How did you use the led lights board to make the cool light up visual. I would like to make one for a stem fair in my school.

    Asked by Manisha to Wallace, Tim, Steve, Sarah, Peter, Paul, Mousumi, Mina, Linda, Kate, Joe, Fi, Danielle, Benjamin, Ben, Andy on 5 Jan 2015.
    • Photo: Wallace Viguier

      Wallace Viguier answered on 5 Jan 2015:


      Dear Manisha,

      Great that you want to make some cool lights. For this you will need a microcontroller, arduino for example, some ligts, RGB LED panel, and something called a shift register. The idea for the register is to allow the arduino to select one LED at a time and tell it what light to show. It is basically the same as what is explained in the first christmas lecture.

      There are plenty of documentation online such as:

      http://francisshanahan.com/index.php/2009/how-to-build-a-8x8x3-led-matrix-with-pwm-using-an-arduino/

      I am also fond of a website with tons of DIY projects with instructions on how to make it:

      http://www.instructables.com/tag/type-id/category-technology/

      Also, if you need help and/or access to tools for your project you can plan to visit your local hackspace, for example in London:

      https://london.hackspace.org.uk/

      Finally, and if you have lots of time you can evnet plan to make a 3D LED matrix like this:

      http://www.instructables.com/id/Making-of-the-L3D-Cube-Idea-to-Product-in-Four-Mon/

      Good luck for this project and do not hesitate if you have more questions on the topic,
      Wallace.

    • Photo: Steve Cox

      Steve Cox answered on 5 Jan 2015:


      Sylvain has given you a great answer there. If you are using a string of LED lights (like Christmas tree lights) then to make a panel with them you can use a piece of foamboard which can be purchased from any art/craft shop. Punch or drill holes on the board at regular intervals so that you make a matrix with the dimensions that you want. You can then push each LED through a hole from the back and secure them and the wires in place with adhesive (I used a hot melt glue gun when I made mine).

      Good luck – it sounds like a great idea for a STEM fair.

    • Photo: Fiona Dickinson

      Fiona Dickinson answered on 6 Jan 2015:


      Great answer from Sylvain, but I just want to add…
      The LED panels aren’t that expensive and a little 8×8 panel can be programmed relatively easily with a little Arduino (again not that expensive) this simple type of thing is exactly how I got into this stuff (I started with one RGB LED) and I could send a message to it from my phone telling it what colour to be, very simple but it was a great place to start and I’ve done more advanced things with Arduino’s since. Just give it a go, get a couple of books, its easier than you think.

      By the way thanks to Paul who got me into this by showing me his RGB mobile phone arduino setup 🙂

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