Instructables

How to Make an LED Ambient Mood Light: A Beginner Tutorial

Picture of How to Make an LED Ambient Mood Light: A Beginner Tutorial

This Instructable lays out how to construct and code an ambient LED light using an Arduino board and some common circuit components. This project mixes a red, green, and blue LED to get a wide range of colors, and the Arduino cycles through them. The paper cover is used to diffuse the light from the discrete LEDs into a more uniform hue. This project is ideal to add some mood lighting to a dark room using the Arduino and some common, cheap materials.



The Arduino is a useful, versatile board for the electrical hobbyist, but it takes practice to master. This tutorial is accessible to anyone starting to work with or interested in using an Arduino board for electrical or art hobby projects. No prior electrical or coding experience is necessary to complete or tweak this project. However, some knowledge on the C programming language and basic circuitry will be useful to expand on the design. The project takes about 15 minutes to assemble.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Gather the Materials

Picture of Gather the Materials
The following materials are used:
  • Arduino Uno board (older boards should be compatible)
  • USB A to USB B connector cable
  • Computer with Arduino IDE software
  • Arduino solder-less breadboard shield
  • 3 resistors (330 ohm)
  • Red LED
  • Green LED
  • Blue LED
  • breadboard connector wire
  • white paper
  • scissors
  • tape
Also, you will need the code for this project, which is linked to in the "Program the Arduino" step, and can be found here: http://pastebin.com/1dyWpRuw.

The Arduino Software (compiler and IDE) can be found here: http://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/software

Some of these materials can be substituted if they are not readily available:
  • A regular breadboard can be used instead of the breadboard shield.
  • Other resistors can be used, just try to find three identical resistors between 330 and 1000 ohms.
  • Any different color LEDs can be used in this project.
If this is the first time the Arduino has been used, connect the Arduino to the computer using the USB connector to make sure it turns on. A green LED should light up on the board to indicate that it is on and receiving power.
JesusGeek1 month ago

I did this with a hackduino (on perfboard) and two RGB Led's. I used the code and library here:

https://github.com/jgillick/arduino-LEDFader

teknohawk1 year ago
Amazing project! Just what I was looking for to build! This is great. I have no 330 ohm resistors, so I will use three 270 ohm resistors. That won't burn out the LED'S, RIGHT?
cfallin1 year ago
I'm trying to get 3 more pis to do the same thing as pins 9, 10, and 11. I'm trying to get pins 3, 5, and 7 to fade just like the other pins. I can't figure out how to write this in the code for the life of me.
In case anyone else stumbles on this...they would have to use pins 3, 5 and 6 (not 7).
Freaky2711 year ago
Can you make a tutorial video about how to make this?
diy_bloke2 years ago
quickly tried this. Fun. Might be nice to do this with high power LED's and make a more durable lampshade
Yeah. How about a laser cut plastic shade? Maybe some custom etchings on the sides...
I wish, for now I am stuck with paper and scissors :-)
Dekel Ziv2 years ago
why not use an RGB led? is it more expensive?
JayGeeBSE2 years ago
Have you seen the Genie microcontroller? Much cheaper to buy than the Arduino, really cheap to program if you have a Serial port (but there is a USB option) and 'writing' programs is just a case of drawing a logical flow diagram and adding some numbers for time delays etc..

It has countless other great features - IR in and out, an LCD module, R/C servo motor outputs, stepper motor output, and many more. Oh, and it's MUCH smaller than an Arduino board.

Only real snags are that you have to assemble the very simple PCB, and you are only allowed to use it for educational purposes - no commercial products.
alsetalokin2 years ago
This is totally cool and easy project. Thanks for making it!!

I used ping-pong balls as diffusers, they work great! If they are dirty or scuffed you can clean them up with sandpaper or a pencil eraser. I drilled a 5mm hole, very carefully, with a special bit called a "step-drill" which is excellent for drilling very thin material. The RGB LED fits snugly and it diffuses perfectly. I made another with three individual colored LEDs with three holes in the ball, but it's not as nice looking as the single LED model. I made a little base from a piece of scrap wood and mounted the ball on a tube sticking up.

I also wrote a bunch of different flashing and blending patterns into the code and made them selectable by a pushbutton switch.

BE CAREFUL WITH FLASHING LIGHTS, some people are sensitive and might have seizures.

@icleger: the programming IDE application is free and can be downloaded from the Arduino main page. The pogramming language is c++ and is very easy, and the IDE comes with lots of examples and tutorials. Get an Arduino, some resistors and some wires and some LEDs and start working thru the examples and you'll catch on in no time.
Hey, can I get your code? That sounds interesting.
Arduino's are programmed in C++? I think you just made my day :) C++ Is the only code i know how to program (a bit) in, and I was annoyed I would have to learn another language :)

Also, great instructable! I just received my first Arduino (Uno) today, and would love to try it out!
xptonvidia2 years ago
the leds blink when the arduino is connected to a 9v battery
kInstructor2 years ago
Nice Instructable, easy to understand and build.
I have an idea for a cool extra feature:
An UV-LED and fluorescent color on the paper.
Oh yeah!!! I just saw this... I'll try it as soon as I can !!
icleger2 years ago
Okay, I really want to learn how to program this Arduino board. any helpful tips. I am in some electronics classes but have not gotten this far yet, i know all about resistors and such but nothing to do with programming yet.. Also, you said set the arduino to change with music, how exactly do you do that? Thanks, Cody
Krayzi992 years ago
I'm either doing this, or getting an RGBLED. Probably this.
WolfKodi2 years ago
This looks way much better from what I peer-reviewed. The inclusion of the video precisely illustrates what this thing is capable of.