This Instructable is a quick guide to a 4th of July table-top decoration and is just one of many interesting applications for LED strips. Much of the design and build process for this project owes to contributions from fellow tinkerers and their respective contributions will be linked throughout. I'll break down the components of this project into two categories, the artsy stuff, and the electronics stuff.
- Box, small
- length of tube/pipe (approx six inches)
- zip ties x2
- glue (hot glue gun and regular Elmer's were used)
- multiple colors of felt
- scissors (a razor knife is helpful as well but not necessary)
- chipKit Uno32 board
- 6x strips of LEDS, 5 LEDs long
- Solid core wire, lots. (Red white and blue used, but any works)
-Soldering iron + solder
- Electrical tape
- Bread board
- MPIDE (to program the board)
Some notes about this project: some additional materials were used to make it capable of being powered via a battery pack. This is not really necessary for it to function, however if you would like to do so, you can follow another Instructable I used to build it here, with the additional materials needed outlined there. This project will not directly cover all background details of each step, but rather will reference external resources.
Step 1: Getting the LED Driving Software
A specific library for MPIDE was used to drive the LEDs in this project, as well as demo code which was used as the basis for the LED's code I created, which you can find from one of the contributors here.
You can either clone it via Git or simply download it as a zip. Once you have the file, I simply added it to the MPIDE library file by opening the MPIDE containing folder -> hardware -> pic32 -> libraries and copying it there as "PICxel". You only need a couple files from the folder, but it functions just the same having the entire folder copied.
My particular code for the LEDs is just a repeating flashing pattern along the strips, but it can be modified to display different colors or patterns as you see fit. Just upload the file to your microcontroller and you're good to go.
Step 2: Putting Together: Electronic Stuffs
Now you'll need to get your LED strips ready to be wired up. A "How to" on soldering wires to the LED strips can be found here. I chose red, white, and blue wires specifically for this project, but the color choice is really only important for easily determining which is which. Once all the soldering is done, grab your jumpers, Uno32, and bread board and start plugging stuff in (you'll need one for power, one for ground, and one for signal for each strip for a total of eight).
For the sample code provided in this Instructable, the pins for the LED signals are assigned to pins 3 through 8. The order is not important.Connect a jumper from the 5v pin on the Uno32 to the positive (+) rail on the bread board and another from ground to the negative (-) rail. From here, just connect your LED strips' power, ground, and data wires to the board. For an added artistic touch, if you selected red, white, and blue wires for your LED strips, you can wrap them down your length of pipe and then connect to the bread board, securing them to the ends of the pipe with electrical tape.
Step 3: Putting Together: Artsy Stuff
The purpose of the box in the project is to serve as a decorative canvas as well as a base for the sparkler. You can use the felt, as a recommended material in the intro, and cut out shapes to attach with a hot glue gun as you like, or simply decorate with markers or stickers. This part is pretty much up to you.
To mount the sparkler into the box, use a razor knife or scissors to cut down the front of the box then a short length across the base, then cut a small section of this flap out, as shown in the picture. This section you are cutting out will be a hole for your sparkler.
Once you have the hole cut out, poke four holes (2 x2 square pattern) in to the bottom of the box near the hole. These will be the mounting point for the sparkler. Just line up the pipe with the cut out, then zip tie the pip to the bottom of the box though the holes, something similar to the image above when its all put together.
Now just plug in your board, either via USB to a computer or an external battery pack, and you now have another sparkly addition to your 4th of July festivities!