Introduction: Fiber Optic LED Engine - Holiday Edition
Hello there folks! James from Elemental LED's Account Manager here with my first Instructables project made for the holidays.
The idea came to me when a client needed something specific to which the company hand not touched base on (at the time) and I decided to make a very rough prototype to prove the concept. I also thought why not make it fun and do it holiday style.
Three Super Bright LED Modules in red, green, and blue
Apollo DMX Color Controller w/ 12v Adapter
DC Wire Plugs (1) Female and (1) Male
Fiber Optic Cable Strands (about 150 or more strands)
Straws (usually comes with the Fiber Optics)
Holiday themed stickers
The Tools of the Trade needed for your holiday madness:
Flat Head 4mm Screwdriver
Boxed Cutter or Carpenters Knife
Step 1: Prepping the Lighting Source
First step is to secure your fiber optic cables to your Super Bright Modules, usually the cables come with a plastic housing to secure them all. It's very important to use these so you don't lose your strands. You can use any materials to secure them to the Super Bright Module, Electric tape is the easiest.
You want to do this for all three colors and test them to make sure no light protrudes through the electrical tape and make sure the strands can stand vertically and are secure.
You'll then want to snip the wire ends off to length but leaving some in case of emergency. Remember, "Measure Twice..Cut Once". You also want to snip the wires so that you have a 2 wire connection for each module, this way you can install all the positive lead wires to the green terminal block from your Apollo Color Controller, and then line up each negative wire according to color on the block.
Step 2: Control System and Mounting Base
Now for the assembly of the housing:
Take your Apollo Color Controller and stack it on top of the computer fan. It would be best to flip the computer fan upside down with the exposed fan blades facing away from the Apollo. This way you have a secure platform to mount the Apollo to the fan. Then take your Tupperware container over both units and mark the location of the power connection and data cable connection so you can cut a hole for access.
I didn't plan on using the DMX Connection on the Apollo for this prototype, but I may in the future and if you consider it, make a hole to gain access as well. Keep in mind there is a locking tab that needs to be accessed if you ever need to disconnect your DMX Connection.
Next is to make cuts at the corner of the tupperware so that later on you can zip tie the enclosure to the computer fan. No need to make a hole in the tupperware, just a slit will do. Measure at the top of the tupperware and make a hole so that your fiber optic strands can come out. You can make this hole as big or as little as you like, I chose to make it so that some of the plastic shell comes out through to give me more of a base.
I painted my tupperware, but this is entirely up to you too of course, some like the X-Ray look. I'm personally traumatized by the X-Ray look so go with what works for you. Once painted, you can insert your Fiber Optic Cables through.
Step 3: Wire Connections
At this stage, you're probably pretty tired...so grab a snack and take a quick breather.
Once you're off your break, its time to go back to work.
First step is to secure the Apollo to the computer fan and you do this by making a chain link with zip ties to secure to the frame. Try to avoid the buttons on the Apollo with the zip ties so that the units don't accidentally reset on you.
By this time now you'll be ready to make your connections starting by zip tying your bundle of wires coming from the Super Bright Modules and plugging in your green terminal block. Simple, no? Take your computer fan power wires and snip them to make them short, strip them to expose the copper wires, and then secure to the Male DC Wire Plug. You'll want to take a short piece of 22 gauge wire so that you can extend out through the tupperware housing and connect the wires to your Female DC Wire Plug.
Step 4: Finally Assembly
Now its time to put all your magic together.
Take the tuperware housing and place it over the fan and use zip ties at the corners to secure the fan to the tupperware. Make sure all your Fiber Optic strands are out, you can configure them later. Also make sure the power wire leads are out and you have access to the data cable connection to your Apollo.
Snip all the remains of the zip ties and use electrical tape to secure the fiber optic strands together at the top of the assembly. Take the straw and cut them at different lengths. Use the straw pieces to separate groups of the strands so that you have a very unique pattern. Couple of ideas would be like a tree or fireworks explosion, a rose. Sky is the limit.
Plug the 12V Adapter that came with your Apollo and see the strands light up. Triple check and BE CAREFUL to make sure the fan below is on. The Super Bright Modules are powerful and can get hot at times in an enclosed environment. The fan should help to keep all devices cool.
Congrats!!!!!!! You've now made an RGB LED Fiber Optic Engine. Now the real fun beings....
Step 5: Programming the Apollo DMX Controller
The Apollo DMX Color Controller is a unique device that allows you to control RGB (red, green, blue) LED products. This can apply and be considered as a 3 channel output device as well. Download, install, and read all instructions on the Apollo software that is include with the Apollo. If you don't have the materials, you can easily find it from Elemental LED, the developer of the Apollo Controller.
As mentioned earlier, I wanted this prototype to be holiday themed, and the easiest way to do that is with holiday music. Easily noticeable, and recognizable by just about everybody. Instead of just playing music and having a controller manipulate the lights to the music like the Apollo's younger sibling, the Apollo Jammer. I've decided to write the music with color notes using the RGB outputs of the Apollo DMX Controller. The song I've selected is the Ukrainian Bell Carol.
This step requires a pretty sensitive ear, a good knowledge of music, and a lot of patience. All of which I have none of, so I asked my girlfriend Tina, to help out. She was quite happy to know I was using her favorite holiday song - brownie points!
First thing I had to do was break down the Apollo's abilities of creating notes with different channel combinations without repeating. I came up with the following sequences:
Key of A = Red
Key of B = Green
Key of C = Blue
Key of D = Red+Green
Key of E = Red+Blue
Key of F = Green+Blue
Key of G = Red+Green+Blue
Second step was to translate the actual songs notes and tempo, luckily Tina is quite talented with this and helped me break down the song notes and tempo which luckily matched the 50 sub-scene limit on the Apollo. The song went like this (the number equals the 10ths of a second in the Apollo timing inpu and the letter J meant a function of jump or F for a function of Fadet):
It does take a bit of imagination and knowing the song to really visualize the sound of the music through the colors that flash through the Fiber Optics. Best thing to do is to tweak the timing according to the version that you're listening to. A rock version of the song will need faster tempos while the classical version will slow down and draw out the sounds.
Try it with different songs and see what you come up with. It gets pretty intense and creative with some other songs.
Hope you enjoy this project. I'm sorry that mine isn't very refined looking. That's where the stickers come in handy. This is a prototype for a future product so I can assure you that we won't be using tuppeware and zip ties in the final assembly.