Magic Light (Capacitance Sensor, First Arduino Project)

This was my very first arduino project.  Its great for beginners. Fade the color or the lights my moving your hands near it.  It fades from a pretty purple blue to a firey red-orange. Its was SUPER easy to build, not to hard to write the code, and its really impresses people!  I gave it to my mother for christmas, and it was a big hit. Watch the video to see it in action! I apologize for the poor quality, I will try to take more pictures.

All you need is:

high resistor (mine is 10 mega ohms)
tin foil or other conductive material

I build a housing for mine using an empty salsa jar and a toilet paper tube that happened to be the perfect size to snap together like legos.
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Step 1: Code and Circuit

Set up a breadboard according the  semantic. Download the attached code.
Update: added Fritzing diagram and schematic (Its a great program, check it out

/*this code is a cap. sensor that fades between 2 leds
* set up: pin 8 > high resistor > one wire to foil, one to pin 9
*Led set up pin 2>resistor>led>grnd
*based on,8609.0.html
* ajust if statment to fit resistor, currently using a 10Mohm

Once it is set up, run the code and open the serial monitor.  Move the set up away from your computer to help diminish interference   Note what numbers are being out put when nothing is near the foil sensor, also note what it is when your open palm is extremely close to the sensor.  
Change the int low cap to just above the number output when nothing is near your sensor. 
Change high cap to the number output when you are almost touching the sensor.
You will have to adjust these numbers often to "calibrate" the light.  Many factor interfere with the readings to it needs to be set up whenever it is moved.
Cool project! I don't know how to read the schematic however. Or at least I don't have the confidence reading them yet. Do you have a Fritzing project for it?
dablondeemu (author)  Kelly Smith1 year ago
I'd never heard of Frizting before now. It look really usefull, I'll definitely make one soon!
dablondeemu (author)  dablondeemu1 year ago
Made a quick diagram with it, added it to step 1. They're a bit messy but hopefully Ill play around some more with this program
Hey! Wow. That's what I needed! Thank you so much. Have fun with Fritzing and will watch for more of your instructables!
Love Fritzing. Lol.
ecsaul232 years ago
pretty neat. voted for all 3 contests, good luck
dablondeemu (author)  ecsaul232 years ago
artworker2 years ago
Awesome idea!
dablondeemu (author)  artworker2 years ago
Thanks! It's a fun little sketch to play around with even without making it look fancy.