Introduction: IR Remote Controlled Color Changing Cloud (Arduino)

Picture of IR Remote Controlled Color Changing Cloud (Arduino)

This is a project I created for a Digital Art and Installations class.   The class covered basics of several types of programming, and our projects were meant to be an interactive cross between art and technology.  This was a fun and easy project with really impressive results (if I do say so myself) .  The same technology could be applied to many different types of types of projects.  The technology is very easily altered as well, for example, I was considering using a distance sensor or a light sensor.  I had everything on hand, so it cost nothing. This is my first instructable :] Sorry the photos don't really do it justice! Check out the video to see it in action:

    -Light weight, transparent container. example
    -Mesh Spackle tape. example 
    -Pollyfill stuffing
    -Fishing line or thread to hang
    -LEDs, Wires, Resistors, Infrared sensor and Remote
    -Battery or power source for arduino
    -Breadboard or blank circuit board, I used this one from Radio Shack.

    -Hot Glue
    -Soldering iron (optional)
    -Wire cutter, strippers

Step 1: Circuit and Code

Picture of Circuit and Code

Install the IR remote library

Set up the bread board with the attached schematic.
2 red leds to pin 2,
4 yellow leds to pin 3,
1 green to pin 4,
1 blue to pin 5,
1 pink/purple to pin 6,
2 white to pin 7,
1 RGB flashing to pin 8 (I had to use a resistor to dim it)

The reason I used multiple leds in parallel was so that the light would be dimmer from each individual one and be more defused

Connect the left leg on the IR sensor to 11, middle to ground, and right to 5 volts

Use the IRrecv Demo included with the examples to "configure" your remote. To do this run the sketch and open the serial monitor. Press buttons on the remote and note what numbers apear.

Open the attached IR Rainbow code and scroll down to each case statement   Change the number after the word case to match the button you want to use. 

My code has 
sun (white and yellow)
rain (blue and white)
lightning (blue and purple with flashing white)
??? (RGB flashing led)
and also on/off for each individual color.

Step 2: The Housing

Picture of The Housing

I didnt take pictures while building but it was very easy.

Take the plastic container; something light weight, and clear. Mine was from spinach. Like this one.
Attach fishing line or thread to the corners of main part of the container, not to the lid. Secure them in the middle so that it hangs evenly. 

With the lid off, hang the container at a comfortable height to work on it.  Attach the mesh tape in arches to help disguise the squareness of the box.  To do this, cut lengths between about 6 inches and a foot, hot glue down one end, and then the other making sure the tape is arching away from the container.  Creating an X with the arches helps to give more support. (in the picture my cloud was starting to look a bit square-ish from being squished while transporting it. But before it was much puffier looking)

Next, hot glue puffs of poly fill around the whole container. 

Next, Poke wholes in the lid of the box, and use twist ties, wire scraps or cable ties to secure the breadboard or circuit board and arduino to the lid of the container.  If you used a battery secure that down as well, if you are using a power cord, poke a whole in the top of the container in the middle and feed it through.  

Flip the lid over and cover it and create puffs on top the same way you did on the outside of the container.

Step 3: Hang and Enjoy!

Picture of Hang and Enjoy!
Put the lid on, and enjoy the light show!
In the future, there are some changes I would like the make.
- Replace power cord with a battery
- Build my own circuit board to replace the arduino
- Sound effects? perhaps recorded, or for example a small shaker for rain, etc
- Add fading. For some reason, as soon as I added fading the lights flashed instead (even when using a ~ pin). I would have liked "sun" to be fading between yellow and white, same for blue and white with "rain." I would have also liked to fade between functions.

Questions, Comments, Feedback welcome :]
Have fun with it!


nightmarexx009 (author)2016-12-03


Akin Yildiz made it! (author)2016-07-24

fun stuff

dablondeemu (author)Akin Yildiz2016-07-25

looks great!

OhYeahThatGuy81 (author)2015-07-22

Wow, this is amazing! I really love how it looks!

Perhaps you can improve it with sound and light effects (like lightning in a cloud + thunderstorm sound).

I always thought it would be fun to add sound to this, maybe I will revisit it someday

sinnaevesimon (author)2015-06-13

Nice 'ible :)

I only 've got a question... Could you change the pin number of your IR reciever?

I'm new in the big world of arduino ^^

sorry for my poor english.

annie.tsang.165 (author)2015-04-05

is it possible to change colors without remote control?

Mabbrador made it! (author)2015-03-15

I had a lot of fun making this! Thanks for the inspiration!

noro.igor.diego (author)2015-03-09

Sorry, leds without proper resistor will burn very soon

Yea, was aware of this, but needed it to be as bright as possible because it was being displayed in a lit room.

The updated version has proper resistors

Wired_Mist made it! (author)2014-11-05

I have allways loved this idea. He was my inspiration to do a remix

OhYeahThatGuy81 (author)2014-08-19

That is really beautiful! I am just mesmerized by the different colors.

lornajade1 (author)2013-12-14

Hi, this is simply amazing ! I am just wondering about the script, i would like to try recreate this but wiothout using a remote, possible using LDRs to contol when the lighting changes, I am a rooky at this kind of stuff and so was just looking for any advice?

Thank you in advance

dablondeemu (author)lornajade12014-07-30

Hi, Im sorry I missed this, Im sure it would be possable. I considered using them, but was afraid it wouldnt be reliable due to the light coming from the cloud itself.

rhonardoost (author)2013-02-01

Also, when I use the IRrec demo, it gives me different numbers (like 4885BBD6 and 890). I assume this isn't supposed to happen.

dablondeemu (author)rhonardoost2013-05-05

Also, most remotes will give one code when the button is pressed, then another to when the button is being held. Is that what is happening?

dudelectric (author)rhonardoost2013-05-05

i really dig this awsome project,
NEC protocol (results.value):


dablondeemu (author)rhonardoost2013-02-04

Are you using DEC?

romwhite (author)2013-01-28

Well removing the second #include line allowed it to compile and upload correctly. I can tell the board is receiving signals from the remote and using a library from Adafruit it will decode the signals for each button I press but nothing is lighting up. The remote I'm using is based on NEC codes (

dablondeemu (author)romwhite2013-02-04

Im not sure what NEC is. I was using DEC if that helps? Sorry, I dont know that much about coding. Send me your code and Ill try to take a look at it.

dudelectric (author)dablondeemu2013-05-05

@romwhite im using the same NEC protocol can test the receiving signal using this sketch, just press 2 or 3 button to togle the pin13 Led on your Arduino:


int RECV_PIN = 11;

IRrecv irrecv(RECV_PIN);

decode_results results;

void setup()
irrecv.enableIRIn(); // Start the receiver

void loop() {
if (irrecv.decode(&results)) {
Serial.println(results.value, DEC);
irrecv.resume(); // Receive the next value

case 50151615:
digitalWrite (13, HIGH);
//red off
case 50184255:
digitalWrite (13, LOW);


@dablondeemu this is great instructables for basic IR remote bro!good work

n3ko (author)2013-03-10

just to let you know I did not forget this, code is almost finished ;-) The hardest part for me is building the cloud, though..

sorry for the new reply, couldn't answer your last comment..

dablondeemu (author)n3ko2013-03-10

This looks awesome, When I get a chance Ill check it out!

HicksCustomFurniture (author)2013-02-07

This is ace. I'm terrified of Arduino though so do you reckon I could bodge a basic version by stuffing some christmas lights in there instead?

Yea, Check out the other comments for arduino free ideas too :]

rhonardoost (author)2013-01-31

So I've been trying to make this work for a little while now, and I'm SO close. I have all the lights plugged into the arduino, and I just need to get the IRremote to turn the lights/ on/off, but for the love of all that is good I can't get it to work. When I turn my battery on, the lights all turn on and stare at me in contempt for my work. What am I doing wrong?!

dablondeemu (author)rhonardoost2013-02-04

Send me your code and I'll try to take a look at it, but Im not that good at coding.

InLuvWithMachines (author)2013-02-02

awsum dude!!!!!!

markinstruct (author)2013-01-28

Great project and instructable. Did you use the remote from Adafruit?

dablondeemu (author)markinstruct2013-01-28

I bought a kit similar to this one on ebay.
Just the reciever and the remote are pretty cheap by them selves

But with a IR reciever any remote will work. I was using my TV remote to test it,. I bet you could find a cheap remote used or at a dollar store even.

n3ko (author)2013-01-22

This looks amazing! I'll have a little more time in 2 weeks, then I'm definitely going to build this. I'm planning to add weather forecast via wifi and a sound mode where the clouds lightning matches the music playing in the room. Awesome project!

dablondeemu (author)n3ko2013-01-22

That's awesome! Please share if you do :]

romwhite (author)2013-01-18

Has anyone else built this? As my first instructable I'm trying to build this project but not having any luck with the IR library. I downloaded the library from the site posted at and imported it as instructed but when I try to load the code for the cloud I get errors that appear to point to the IR library. I've attached a screen shot. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

dablondeemu (author)romwhite2013-01-18
Yea a few people have dont it, so it should work.  It looks like you just have an extra line at the beginning.

#include <IRremote.h>
#include <IRremoteInt.h>

int RECV_PIN = 11;
int ledr = 2;

If it still doesnt work, make sure the library is installed correctly. Let me know if that fixes it! :]
zzz_Derek_zzz (author)2013-01-10

For non-electronic types... or us time constrained people. Can we just throw some of those Christmas Lights inside the plastic container?

yes! I forgot to mention than in the post. You could put a light, or christmas lights in it. Many craft or home stores have lamp kits as well. You could get a cheap extension cord from walmart (I think they have one for like 5 dollars). Make sure you use a type of light that doens't get hot, LEDS are best for that.

This project is really cool looking and what a great Idea! A++

Now can you figure out how to make Lighting Bolts shoot out of that too :)

A lot of people have been asking about how to do it more simply, you could try a light like this:

and get a lamp kit from a craft store.

It does have a "lightning" setting :]

In essence, yes you could...

However - you'd lose the infra-red remote control aspect, so (assuming your lights have a flashing feature - or three) you'd need a way to access the controls. If you can/need to extend the lead between the control box and 1st LED somewhat, you should be able to have your cloud but keep the conrols at a more accessible point. So long as you don't cross-connect the wires, that shouldn't be an issue for the vast majority of people. And you wouldn't necessarily even need to solder the connections - a pair of terminal blocks ( for example) at each junction would work (they'd look ugly, but they'd work), but I don't know that they'd take the strain of hanging your likely-to-sway cloud.

A second issue could be the number and brightness of your lights - you'd have to experiment to find an acceptable compromise.

CatalinRO (author)2013-01-11

Very nice! First I thought that it's kind of an airswimmer (, maybe you can come up with something like this :) You may need to loose some weight from the cloud

dablondeemu (author)CatalinRO2013-01-12

I wish! Ill have to see if anyone's built something like that on here.

barnsey_d (author)2013-01-11

oh that is awesome.. have you seen those mini helium filled blimps with simple swarming characterisitcs. if you could combine those with your illuminated cloud idea you could have a flock clouds that float across your room to their own rhythms

dablondeemu (author)barnsey_d2013-01-12

That would be awesome!

ahongs (author)2013-01-10

That's epic. Have you ever thought of making it mobile? Like with motors? Or maybe being synced up to a weather forcast?

dablondeemu (author)ahongs2013-01-10

I was thinking of adding a motor that makes it float up and down by a few inches. Sync to weather would be really cool!

burntorange (author)2013-01-10

What a great project!

Alderin (author)2013-01-10

VERY cool! My continued efforts to make my room's ceiling more sky-like will be greatly enhanced by this. Thank you!

dablondeemu (author)Alderin2013-01-10

Thanks! Id love to see it if you make it!

Dark Light (author)2013-01-10

VERY impressive!!! Thank you for sharing! I'm going to build this. This is a really new idea for me, and I can use it in my photography services. Again, thanks for posting!

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