Introduction: 18" Round LED Infinity Mirror Kit

Picture of 18" Round LED Infinity Mirror Kit
This Instructable covers building of a Chromation Systems 18" Round Infinity Mirror Kit, utilizing a 48 Channel Mono / 16 Channel RGB LED Controller to control 5mm common anode RGB LEDs, 32x along the outside and an optional 16x positioned in the rear mirror. While most of the frame comes already assembled due to the complexity of the round shape, this is still a fairly advanced kit. Please read through the instructions to see how it is done. Also check out the 10" x 10" LED Infinity Mirror for something a bit easier and attainable.

While the instructions here do require the purchase of the kit, the methods and techniques to build one from scratch are shown for those who would like to create their own design. Frame build details are in Step 10

Custom kits, with only the parts you need, can be made to order. Such as if you wanted to use an Arduino instead of the supplied controller or supply your own LEDs, a custom kit can be prepared for you, no need to waste parts. 



Step 1: Supplies and Tools

Picture of Supplies and Tools
The kit includes everything required except the tools and spray paint.

Frame Parts:
  • Outside Frame, 24" diameter x 3.5" deep, primed White or  Have It Painted.
  • Inner Wall Ring, assembled, drilled and painted, ready for LEDs to be installed
  • Supports Ribs, 16 pcs 1" x 3" blocks
  • Front Two-Way Mirror, 1/4" glass, brand name MirrorPane in the U.S.A.
  • Rear Mirror, 1/8" mirrored acrylic, drilled or undrilled, leave the film on until the very last step.

Materials:
  • 2 Tubes of Polystyrene Glue, with 4 application tips
  • 65" Length of 40 lb(actual weight less than 20) Picture Hanging braided wire
  • Vinyl Decal, to cover the bottom of the PCB
  • Vinyl  Decal Dots to cover the buttons, choice of colors.

Electronic Parts:
Tools Required:
  • Soldering Iron and Solder
  • Small Hot Glue Gun and Sticks
  • Exact-O/Razor bladed
  • Wire Strippers
  • Needle Nose
  • Eyeglass sized flat-head screw driver, for the controller terminals
  • Multi Meter / Continuity Tester

Paint: The inner walls come painted ready to use, the frame comes painted with a white plastic primer or Get it Painted

Step 2: Prepare the LEDs on the Inner Wall

Picture of Prepare the LEDs on the Inner Wall

This step can be tricky to understand, the RGB LEDs have to be inserted from inside the circle through some perforated board on the outside.

Insert the LEDs:
  • Lay the Inner Wall down flat in a well let work area
  • Mark where the controller will be placed, it should be where the seam is on the inner wall.
  • Starting to the side of the seam, place a LED through the hole from the inside.
This is a tricky part, the RGB LED has different lead lengths, and they must be inserted into the proper holes in the proper order.  Utilize the different lengths to insert the leads into their holes one at a time. See Diagram
  • Align the flat part of the LED case down, so the leads are vertical.
  • Take a piece of perfboard, the size for the inner walls, and insert the LED leads into their holes.
  • Once they are in place, bend the 3 leads towards the center of the perforated board and the common anode(purple on the diagram) lead pointing upwards.
  • In the same fashion, place another LED through the inner wall  and position the leads onto the same perforated board, so two LEDs share a single perforated board, but the common anode pin should be on the other side, both common anode pins should be on the outside ends of the perforated board. With the other three leads on each bend inwards towards the center.
  • Continue all the way around in the same manner, making a mistake here means changing it later when it will be more difficult, so double check everything.
  • Optional: Label the LEDs, 1-16 then 1-16 again, so all 32 LEDs are labeled.

Running The Anode Wire:
  • Start by stripping the included solid strand wire bare. It can also be cut into two pieces if you like.
  • Starting at the controller point, hook the first LED's anode(longest lead, was bent upwards) around the solid strand wire leaving 1/2" space between the wire and perforated board.
  • Solder it in place and snip off the excess.
  • Continue all the way around, connecting all the LED's anodes to the solid strand wire, leaving a space. Try to keep it neater than in the images...
  • The wire comes in two 31" lengths so in the middle somewhere it will need to be spliced together.
  • Straighten out the wire and make sure there is a 1/4" to 1/2" space away from the perfboard, out of the way. 
  • Solder all the connections, make sure the joints are nice and shiny, snip off the the excess of the lead.

Step 3: Wire Up the LEDs on the Inner Wall

Picture of Wire Up the LEDs on the Inner Wall
The included controller has 16 RGB channels, but the mirror has 32 inner RGB LEDs. So each channel on the controller will have two LEDs going to it, on opposite sides on the mirror. Both the LEDs that share the channel are connected together with the 29.5" 3-strand ribbon cable, and one will be connected to the controller with another ribbon cable, which wires the LEDs in parallel.

So that means, for half of the LEDs, 2 wires will be soldered to each LED Lead, so leave some space, as it is difficult to solder the wire on top of the other wire which is soldered to the LED lead.

LED Wiring Part 1: View the diagram on this Step, also included in the project ZIP. (Wiring Diagram Fig.1)
  • Take the 29.5" 50-strand ribbon and cut it into 16x 3-strand ribbons, using a razor blade.
  • Starting at the controller point, wire LEDs 1 - 8 with a 29.5" 3-strand ribbon, running the ribbon towards the next LED of the same number(which is away from the controller) See Diagram. 
  • Starting at LED 16 on the other side of the controller, wire LED 16-9 with a 29.5" 3-strand ribbon towards the next LED of the same number. See Diagram
Do not connect the other end of the 29.5" ribbons yet, that will be done later. Also do not clip off the excess leads of the LEDs yet.

LED Wiring Part 2:  After the 16 ribbons of 29.5" cable has been soldered on, the ribbon cables that will connect the LEDs to the controller need to be ran. Those ribbons are different lengths to prevent to much extra wire at the controller causing a rats nest, an 18" 50-strand ribbon is included, and is cut to size as you go.
  • Cut the 18" 50 strand ribbon cable into 16x 3-strand ribbons, there will be a 2-strand piece extra, save it or trash it.
  • Starting with one of the closest LEDs to the controller(16 or 1). Take a 3-strand ribbon and strip off the insulation on one end from all strands. Solder it to the LED's leads.
  • Estimate where the controller will be and how much slack you will need on the wire, and trim the 18" long wire down to size, leaving at least 4" of slack.
  • Continue and wire LEDs 1 - 8 like that(shortest to longest wires) and LEDs 16 - 9 (shortest to longest wires)
  • Using a sharpie mark the same strand (wire that connects to the LED lead) on all the ribbons going to the controller. Doesn't matter which side really, just make sure to straighten out the wire and mark the same strand on all the wires.
So now LEDs 1 - 8, closest to the controller, should have a 29.5" ribbon wire unconnected but heading towards the next LED in it's group, and a variable length wire ribbon wire that will connect to the controller.

LED Wiring Part 3: Finally, all the 29.5" ribbons need to be connected to the final inner wall LED.
  • Starting with the furthest LED from the controller (which would be 8 or 9 closest to the controller)
  • Take it's 29.5" 3-strand ribbon and solder it to the next LED in its group(8 to 8, 7 to 7 ect)
  • Continue around, connecting all the ribbons to the final LED. Which will only have the 29.5" ribbon connected to them.

Step 4: Optional: Rear LEDs

Picture of Optional: Rear LEDs
An option for the kit is to have the rear mirror drilled with a ring or other shapes, that LEDs can be inserted into. The effect looks like there are LEDs floating in the center of the mirror and is quite appealing. The standard is a 16 LED ring, 12 inches in diameter. Those LEDs can not be controlled independently from the other outer wall LEDs, and are in parallel with the other LEDs on the channel.

Details. make the perfboard LED assemblies, insert, glue/tape, wire them up....

LED Assemblies: The RGB LEDs are positioned on the perfboard the same way as on the inner wall, but the spacing between the 2 LEDs is different. The LED leads are positioned on the perfboard the same way as in the inner walls. See the diagrams.
  • Take a piece of perfboard sized for the rear mirror and 2 RGB LEDs.
  • See the description on the previous Step on how to position the LEDs on the perforated board, with the leads in the right order.
  • Images tell it all, test fit the LED assembles in their holes, make sure they are correct.

Anode Rail: Just like on the outer walls a solid strand wire is ran in a circle, connecting all the LED anodes in parallel.
  • Strip the 30" long piece of solid strand wire.
  • Create a hook on the end of the RGB LED's anodes, 1/2" to 1" away from the perforated board.
  • Solder to the solid strand wire.
  • Work your way around, so the wire creates a circle, connecting all the LED anodes together.
Wire the LEDs:
  • Strip the 18" 50-strand ribbon cable into 16x 3-strand ribbons.
  • Use some tape that doesn't stretch or conduct or hotglue and glue the LED assembles onto the rear acrylic.
  • With the LED assemblies inserted, go around and label the channel numbers 1- 16.
  • Take one ribbon, separate and strip one end.
  • Solder it to the LED for channel 1.
  • Run it to the controller, leave about 4" of slack and trim the ribbon down to length.
  • Repeat with the rest of the channels, so all the LEDs have ribbons attached that go to the controller.
  • Separate and strip all of the ribbons.

Step 5: Connect and Test the LEDs

Picture of Connect and Test the LEDs
For this Step the included controller kit, a Chromation Systems 48 Channel Mono / 16 Channel RGB LED Controller, must be assembled and tested.

Finish the Controller:
  • Solder the included DC Jack onto the red and black power wires on the controller.
  • Apply the vinyl decal/cover to the bottom of the controller, to protect it.

Connection:
  • Start by carefully going over every solder joint on every LED. Check for frayed wires, bad solder joints, broken wires, bent or touching leads. This is really important, do it carefully and methodically.
  • Perform any fixes, make it perfect, its a lot easier now then later.
  • Trim off as much of the excess LED leads as possible.
  • Optionally, a LED tester or regulated PSU can be used to test if the LEDs are connected in the correct order.
  • Use the connection diagram on the datasheet or available in the project ZIP, and connect all the LEDs to their proper terminal/connection points on the controller. Take your time do it right.
  • Remember LEDs of the same group share a connection point, if you have LEDs in the rear mirror option, you will have 2 strands of wires per connection point, otherwise there will just be 1 strand, but that set is wired to two LEDs in parallel.
  • Once all LEDs are wired to the controller, solder the included red wire between PWR+ on the PCB to the Anode Rail from Step 2.
Power On Test:
  • Look over all the connections again.
  • Once you are satisfied they are good, go ahead and apply power to the controller.
  • The LEDs should all light up and start on the default starting pattern. If they don't within a few seconds, remove power quickly and look it over for problems.
  • Odds are some will have been mis-wired, use the button to switch the patterns and make sure all the LEDs are on and they are the color that they should be.
  • If any are miswired, fix them by swapping the wires.
  • If a LED is not on at all, it could be defective but, more likely it is in backwards, it needs to be un-soldered, pulled out, and a new one inserted correctly, then wired backup.

Replace Current Hogs: LEDs do not always share current equally when they are in parallel, if an LED is a different shade then the others and is too obvious, it may need to be replaced with a new one. Never mix different batches or types of RGB LEDs if they are going to be in parallel, like in this project. The kit includes several extra RGB LEDs for this and for any future fixes.


Secure: Once all the LEDs installed, wired, tested, and playing well together....
  • Go through them one by one and hot glue the LED leads and ribbon cable down to the perforated board. Just a few drops!
  • Make sure to get it in between the leads so they can never touch.

Step 6: Optional: Paint Frame

If you want your mirror frame white or had it painted already, Skip This Step

The kit can be ordered with the outer frame painted. There is a selection of common colors, custom colors costs extra.

If you are applying a wrap or vinyl decals, it can be done in this step as well.

It can either be laid flat onto to a surface or hung up to be painted. Make sure to get the inside edge around the mirror and not to get to much on the inside of the frame since the paint inhibits the glue from adhering well.

Step 7: Assemble Inner and Outer Frame

Picture of Assemble Inner and Outer Frame
Now with all the LEDs installed, tested, and fixed/replaced. Its time for the frame to get put together.

Attach Inner Wall to the Frame:
  • Lay the frame face down on a towel or blanket on table with good light. Don't let it get scratched.
  • Take the 1/4" two way mirror, remove the masking on the non-shiny side, and place the mirror shiny side up(so it will be on the inside) into the frame. Leave the masking on the shiny side for now.
  • Center the round two-way mirror in the hole. Use a flashlight or something to shine under the frame to see if it is centered. Should be 1/4" all the way around. This is real important to get right.
  • Using a tube of the included glue, apply a fat bead, 1/8" thick or so, around the outside of the two-way mirror, right up to the edge.
  • With the rear mirror installed in the inner wall, so it can keep it shape, carefully stick the open side of the inner wall onto the glue, the two-way mirror should fit inside, if not wiggle it til it does. Try not to slide the mirror around.
  • If you feel the two-way mirror may have moved, check either by viewing it from the front, or measuring the distance between the inner and outer wall all the way around. It should be 2.75", some of the support ribs can be used to help center the inner wall.
  • Place a few items on the inner wall's top edge, to weigh it down enough to keep it tight to the frame.
  • Wait for the glue to dry before moving it, the ribs can be installed while it is drying.
  • If you haven't yet, double check the position of the inner wall is correct.
  • Apply some more glue to the seam, especially where the first bead didn't ooze out. Keep it off the wires and controller, but otherwise be generous.
Reinforcement: The support ribs are like spokes on a wheel, and are most of the structural support, once they are in the frame is very sturdy. View the diagram and images of how to mount them.
  • 8 of the ribs go on the bottom, Start by test fitting the bottom pieces all the way around.
  • Once they are positioned evenly, pull one out and apply glue to both ends and one long side of the piece.
  • Put it in, and don't push it to the bottom until you have it straight then push down, so the glue on the bottom doesn't get smeared.
  • Apply a drop of glue, on either end of the support where it meets a wall. These should be well adhered.
Once all the bottoms have been glued in, 8 more go along the top, offset from the bottom ones.
  • They should sit flush with the top/back of the inner wall, the outer wall is 1/2" deeper than the inner.
  • Glue can only be applied to the ends.
  • Wait for them all to dry, then apply some more glue if you still have some left, to reinforce the support ribs.



Step 8: External Connectors and Hanging Wire

Picture of External Connectors and Hanging Wire
With everything now glued in,  installed, and tested, its time for the final steps.

Install External Connections:
  • Start by installing the panel mount USB Jack, remove the 2 bolts and nuts, center the connector in the hole and use the  nuts and bolts to attach it to the frame.
  • Install the DC Jack and bolt it on tight, don't loose the washer, the nut will get loose if it doesn't have the washer.
  • Buttons are last, if they were assembled as per the controller instructions they will fit into the 3 holes,
  • Use some hot glue and carefully apply to the perfboard. Make sure not to get any glue on the buttons themselves or they won't work.
  • Press the button assembly into the holes and hold it there til the glue hardens.
  • Apply the 3 vinyl dots to cover the buttons from the outside. The kit comes with black, silver, white. If you would like another color just ask there are many vinyl colors to choose from.

Rear Mirror: 
  • If you haven't yet, take out the rear mirror and remove the masking on the rear and the front.
  • If you got any finger prints on the mirrors use some Windex or similar non-streak glass cleaner and clean both mirrors to perfection.
  • Re-install the rear mirror
  • Use the included aluminum tape, cut it into 0.75" or so wide pieces and tape the rear mirror in, try to make the tape as tight and smooth as possible so the mirror can not shift at all.
Hanging Wire:
  • Wrap the included stranded picture wire around the inner wall, under the top support ribs. Make sure none of the ribbon cable is under the picture wire.
  • If need be use some tape to keep the picture wire away from the ribbon cable,
  • Where the wire meets, leave a bit of slack, and bend both ends of the picture wire at a 90deg angle onto each other.
  • Bend it back and twist it around.
  • Use some aluminum tape and to keep the wire from coming undone, squeeze it tight. Note: If you live in an earthquake zone you might want to devise something stronger.

Step 9: Finish It Up and Usage

Picture of Finish It Up and Usage
Decals: Optional and not included. Contact For Details
  • The pictured mirror had vinyl decals applied. Art was created in Adobe Illustrator. Made a grid of rounded squares and performed a Effect  -> Warp -> A combination of Squeeze/Fisheye/Twist. Which gave me the wavy distorted looking pattern in vector format(File Available for in Project ZIP) that was cut on dark grey vinyl.
  • Follow the providers instructions for application of decals.

Hookup and Software:
  • Plug in the included 5v @ 3A power supply to the DC Jack and the mirror should light up.
  • Use a USB Type A to Type B(not included) cable to hook up the Infinity Mirror to your computer.
  • Windows computers will prompt for the driver install. The correct driver can be downloaded Here or from the 48 Channel Mono / 16 Channel RGB LED Controller webpage.
  • Startup the ColorMotion Software. And follow the included instructions.
  • Or start the LiveMode Demo Software which works with the ColorMotion Compatible Firmware, the Demo Version and the Full Version.

It should be up and working now, ready to be enjoyed for years to come.

Thanks for Reading, Please Visit My Instructables Profile for more Projects.

Also Visit www.ChromationSystems.com for more Projects, Kits, and Parts.

Step 10: Extra: Frame Construction

Picture of Extra: Frame Construction
The construction of the Frame and Inner wall require a fair amount of tooling, jigs and skill. Which makes it unrealistic to build just one for your average DIYer. But here is some information and images of how it is done.

Outside Frame:
  • Front is water-jet cut 125mil polystyrene, non expanded. 24" Outer Diameter, 17.5" Inner Diameter
  • The outer wall is made from the same polystyrene and is 3.5" x 74.75"
  • A 23.75" perfectly round jig, 3" deep was made out of MDF and 2x2s.
  • The outer wall is wrapped around it, secured using a ratchet type belt and squeezed tight.
  • It is glued together to make a circle. Wait til it dries.
  • A thin bead of glue is applied to the top edge of the outer wall and the water-jet cut frame front is applied. As it dries it is moved around to get it lined up perfect to the outer wall.

Inner Wall:
  • Inner wall, same material, 3" x 57" exactly, 1/16" off the width(3") either way is no good and will ruin the effect, because the mirrors won't be parallel. 32x evenly spaced holes are drilled using a 3/16"(For RGB, 11/32 for Single Color) drill bit. The length is wrapped around an 18" diameter x 2.5" deep jig made of MDF and 2x2s into a circle and glued from the outside.
  • The mirrors are placed inside for a guide and 0.75" x 0.25" blocks are positioned to hold the mirrors in place. Done on both sides, one side is 1/4" glass the other is 1/8" acrylic. The inside is then painted with a plastic primer then in Matte Black.

Comments

twashmon (author)2013-06-04

im actually thinking about doing this to my table, i have a glass coffee table, if i could get it to light up under the glass, that would be pretty interesting.
thanks for the idea, nice instructable!

agis68 (author)2013-01-20

the bars of 80's and 90's were full of these infinity mirrors (without the high tech parts)

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Bio: Designing electronic creations from microcontrollers, LEDs and anything else I can pull out of a dumpster and make use of. Check my Profile
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