This lovely fibre optic bonsai tree was dead, the power supply was no where to be found, but more important, the motor was dead. This was a slow turning motor that isnt something that I can find an easy replacement for. The improvement was primarily making it portable, but also making it programmable. There are a few ways that I could have done this, but I already had something built, that would work. The circuit that I had built was running on an arduino nano, but this project looked like a good time to try the arduino mini.

This project uses:
a 9 LED flashlight reflector (I took one from a dead flashlight)
3 current limiting resistors for the LEDs
3 Pchannel MOSFETs
3 gate resistors for the MOSFET
Battery pack for 6v (I rewired two three battery packs to use a total of four batteries, because I didnt have a for battery pack.)

The display came with an on/off switch, and switched power jack, which I promptly wired for the battery pack so that when its plugged in, it disconnects the batteries.

This circuit treats the 9 LEDs like 1 big LED. I was building an RGB, but I could have built it using individually controlled LEDs, and it would have been more interesting. I could have controlled the LEDs with a couple TLC5940 chips, or shift registers and resistors, or even by charlieplexing, all would have been viable ways to do this same thing, and maybe next time, I'll do it differently.

I experimented with other LEDs but the results were less than ideal. First I tried candle flame LEDs heres the video.


I also tried a gang of fast flash color cycle LEDs. I glued about 18 together in a big blob, and tried it. Here is the video


This video shows the original parts, and the parts that make up my RGB flashlight, that I ended up using for the display.


That flashlight used common cathode LEDs and P-channel MOSFETs, There are many ways to do the LEDs, you could even use LED strips, or individually controllable LEDs, or whatever you like, but this time, I used these parts.

Step 1: Gut it, and prep it.

The first step is to remove the original parts. In this case it came with a projector lamp, color wheel, and motor. It used a lot of electricity, 12v 1000mA when it worked, and I dont know where the power supply is anyway. It used a mini phone jack, like the kind used for an earphone. Since the new version will be LEDs and a mcirocontroller, the electrical consumption was low enough for batteries, so I included some battery clips, and wired them into the power jack. in the box.

9 RGB LEDs running full (white) is 540 mA, or just over half amp current limit on USB, but we wont be doing any white, we will only have 2 colors at full brightness at any one time, so a realistic consumption is around 360mA, which is within safe limits, so I wired this for USB, even but I run it from a wall wart USB charger It runs 5v on AC/USB, but 6v on (4)batteries.