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Addressable Milk Bottles (LED Lighting + Arduino)

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Picture of Addressable Milk Bottles (LED Lighting + Arduino)
Make PPE milk bottles into good looking LED lights, and use an Arduino to control them. This recycles a number of things, mainly the milk bottles, and uses a very low amount of power: the LEDs apparently dissipate less than 3 watts but are bright enough to see by.

Among other things, I wanted to see if I could make an electronic light feel more human friendly than most, and found rotary controllers are a good way of doing this.



PPE milk bottles make for a cheap yet aesthetically pleasing way to diffuse LED lighting. Especially if you can find nice round ones :)

Modding an object with LED lighting is not only environmentally friendly, but also much more straightforward than building a housing from scratch. Because LEDs are tiny, you can put them almost anywhere, and they don't produce much heat as long as they're spread out and running at the correct voltage.

This instructable will deal mainly with physical design and production, and I'm going to assume you have a basic knowledge of creating electronic circuits and LED lighting. Since the exact LEDs and power supply you use will probably vary, I'll only go into the basics of my circuit in terms of specs. I'll also try to point you to useful resources, and explain more about the Arduino microcontroller and code that tells them to work in sequence.

The electronics of basic LED lighting are really simple, similar to elementary school electronics, so probably won't take long for you to pick up at all.
 
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mslobogean1 year ago
Great instructable! By the way, for other readers in Canada/USA, Perspex is commonly known here as Plexiglass.

This reminds me of a project my friend's dad made, which involved lights placed under inverted plastic 4 litre ice cream buckets. The string of lights were left beside the sidewalk before winter so that snow would cover them, and they'd light the snowbank from below. It would look awesome to add individual addressing and control as you did!
Robsen1 year ago
Very nice! thank u :)
Great looking lights! I love the idea of using milk bottles to diffuse the light. I find 'em pleasant to look at anyhow.

You might also want to look into straight AVRs (start !). They're just as easy (almost) to work with as arduino, but 6X cheaper and 1000X more flexible (just a chip, not a board). In addition, with the combination of ladyada's USBTinyisp, you'll be able to get that easy usb -> milklights that you're looking for.

If you'd like advice with that, just shoot me a pm, but great work, and congrats!
Nachimir (author)  T3h_Muffinator4 years ago
Thanks for that, really useful link. I've been thinking for a while that using a whole Arduino in each project is a bit excessive, and surely I can use them to program ATMega168's to wire up without the boards... great tutorial, thanks.
If you search (even this site) for 'AVR programmer using Arduino" you should come up with several methods for programming basic ATMega's using an arduino board.
mo3eed1 year ago
great
Great Work!!!
Can you use PWM with a transistor? Thanks
Nachimir (author)  joejoerowley5 years ago
Thanks for your compliments. A google search suggests that PWM can be used with transistors. I'll give it a try this weekend.
Very Cool. Image having these fade down the line. The possibilities are endless :) Great Instructable btw, I'm still lovin' it.
Nachimir (author)  joejoerowley4 years ago
Cheers :)

I just did a quick test with PWM on the bottles connected to the right pins:



I've put the code up as a text file in the last step too (PWMtest-milklights.txt) if you want to look at it. However, don't learn code from me; I'm a beginner and have been told I use way too many curly brackets :)

Also, the Arduino environment contains a much more straightforward example of PWM using a single pin in File > Sketchbook > Examples > Analog > Fading
Or you could simply use the SoftPWM library for arduino that gives you PWM on all pins.
ajtag Nachimir5 years ago
have a look at ti's tlc5940: http://focus.ti.com/docs/prod/folders/print/tlc5940.html, that has 16 pwm pins for leds, and can be daisy-chained for more. thats what i am using.

great instructable, keep up the good work.
ajtag, How do you hook up, program and use the flc5940? I'm an noob and a tad bit confused on how you would go about using this chip. Thanks in advanced, Joe
Never mind. I just found a great resource.
http://students.washington.edu/acleone/codes/tlc5940arduino/html_r012/
Thanks,
Joe]
I was about to recommend that! damn second... lol. (The TLC)
ShortedOut2 years ago
I wasn't sure whether I understood the wiring completely, so I drew up a little diagram. I put in (for simplicity's sake) only three sets of 3 LEDs (connected only to pins 4, 5 and 6 on the Arduino Mini). I think I got the pin order wrong on the NPN transistors. Also, I wasn't sure how to label the resistors on the LM317T, as I'm not sure what you ended up using (and because my eyesight is terrible!). Could you tell me whether I'm thinking this correctly? If not, where is it wrong? Thanks so much!
LED_Arduino_Wiring_Diagram_Small.jpg
Nachimir (author)  ShortedOut2 years ago
Really sorry, but it's been over two years since I touched this. It looks about right. I would have used an online calculator to put the right resistors to each trio of LEDs, and this was the first time I'd ever used transistors or the LM317. I had quite a few to spare, and experimented until I got it right.
ASCAS3 years ago
Wow you drink a lot of milk!
 nice work
__Master_4 years ago
NM my question it is yea you can do it and i looks cool to
__Master_4 years ago
do u think that u cud stop the RGB LED colour fade and thin make it go again to choose a new colour?
Blackice5044 years ago
Hi this is a great project i think i will build this for my mum and dad's house as they always complaining about light because the voltage is low and you do need well alot of lights to be controled one by one would it be better to have a single ground wire for all the lights then just use Cat5 is this possible so far i think it is but i have not played with the Arduino PS i live in Australia i have only found one place that sells them :'( and its FAR
you could use two of those pipe fittings that make the pipe size larger and a short section of larger pipe to hold the arduino
Euphy4 years ago
Congratulations on the win Nachimir - it's a great project!
Ioannes4 years ago
This would have been neater and easier for fault-finding if you had soldered all the transistors and resistors into a piece of Veroboard (Copper strip Board) and then soldered the wire onto solder pins. Alternatively, if facilities were available a small PCB made to fit into the pipe is another solution.
Nachimir (author)  Ioannes4 years ago
Yeah, I learned a lot from this, and would have loved to be able to make a PCB for it.
notsure4 years ago
Have you considered using a LM7805? They drop the voltage to a regulated +5 instead of needing to regulate it with a 317. I like the 317, but the 7805 works better for a constant +5.
Nachimir (author)  notsure4 years ago
Thanks for the tip. I'm only just learning about all the components there are out there.
bumsugger4 years ago
What a F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C instructable Nachimir,I commend you on your thorough detail,and neatness, (all things considered).I'm not too well up on Arduinos though,so I've got a pretty steep learning curve ahead of me,despite being an Electro-Tech.I have a just a project in mind for a setup like this,so I better get reading,once again,Congratulations!!
i wonder if you can make allot of OLED dolor changing suond to light system. imagine... color flashing milk bottles with a ipod connected... must invest in this, i think ill make a japan paper lantern theme and hang it on my celling everywhere, that be nice, any tips?
Nachimir (author)  crampedyogapositions4 years ago
That sounds like a lot more work than this. You could make things sound reactive pretty easily, either with mics, or even piezos attached to speakers. I know those T-qualizer shirts that have the light up EQs on them and were everywhere in the UK a couple of year ago just react to volume through some components integrated with the battery pack, but I've never taken a close look and it only gives very limited responses to sound. If you want to do anything particularly fancy you'd probably need to route the signals through a computer. It would be cool to teach something the difference between Brian Eno and Extreme Noise Terror, and appropriate colours to display for each :)
mman15064 years ago
what about adding a tepture sensor that controls the dimness or even coulour of ligt
Nachimir (author)  mman15064 years ago
Yes, that would work. You can do just about any basic sensing and processing with an Arduino. I have a load of RGB LEDs for my next electronics project, which will record data from somewhere else and pass it on to them...
susioneill5 years ago
My Buddy john Callaghan (www.johncallaghan.co.uk) has a costume made from Yakult milk bottles which light up. There's some photos knocking about my Facebook page of him playing a party at my house wearing it.
Nachimir (author)  susioneill5 years ago
emerson5 years ago
i wonder how one could program the arduino to control dimness and creating a breathing light effect on various bottles. sweet project, very inspiring.
Nachimir (author)  emerson5 years ago
Thanks very much, everyone.

A breathing light would be fairly simple with PWM, though a standard arduino only has 6 PWM pins. Maybe you could get around that by routing the output of one pin to more than one bottle, then blocking with transistors for ones you want off at any time... that wouldn't allow you to control all simultaneously without some being perfectly in synch though.

I made a little demo of PWM with an RGB LED:


I added a heatsink to the LM317 today just to be on the safe side. Aiming to get more video/images of the finished light too, but have to find a way to get it the 3 miles or so back to my house now :)
you could use the arduino mega it has 11 pwm pins
arduinomega_1stpic_cc.jpg
Nachimir (author)  everywhere5 years ago
Indeed, I've been eyeing them up, but that's still one short for these :) I like the idea of the Mega, but it seems like overkill. For any project an Arduino seems to have a lot of unused capacity, so maybe deeper prototyping skills based on them could lead to custom PCBs and dedicated circuits that do exactly what you want. Though I think anything that makes physical computing more accessible to people is basically a brilliant idea :)
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