Step 11: Cabling and Switchbox

Now for the controls. Since I want the controls to be separate to the light, I'll need some cable. The circuit needs live and ground connections, and the potentiometer will need three connections. One of these will be live from the Arduino, one with be the connection to the analog pin that the arduino will use to read the pot. The other is earth, so that means I need just four cores going up to the light.

Since I don't have any four core cable, I twist two long lengths of speaker wire together. Not perfect, but not bad. You can easily do this as shown in the photos below by zip tying the ends of two lengths of cable, putting one end under something heavy enough to hold it, then braiding the cables yourself.

I'll be making the control box out of an empty white plastic moo card box I've had for quite a while. Some of the components, such as the power socket, are also recycled from previous projects. An end cap and some zip ties will serve as strain relief at the light end of the cable.

I start marking out the box for the pot, then set to connecting the cables up at the light end. By stripping one pair but not the other when they're entwined, it makes it easy to identify them. One of the stripped ones will go to ground on the potentiometer in the switch box, one will go to +12v at the power socket. The other two will be signaling wires connected to the other pins on the pot.

At the other end, one of these will go to the analog pin that the code tells the arduino to take a reading from, and one to +5v. Again, all heatshrinked up when in place.

The pictures should show you better how I made my switch box, which almost went disastrously wrong. I tried gluing it first, and the plastic seems to be impervious to superglue... in the end, I sorted it by using a couple of rubber pads inside the box then putting a couple of PC case screws though all the layers of the box to hold them together and keep the pot in place. The power socket also needed a zip tie since I didn't have any nuts to fit the thread on it.
<p>Really cool! I wonder if you could make this to change color! Or can it already? I skimmed through this, but one of the coolest things I've seen!</p>
Great instructable! By the way, for other readers in Canada/USA, Perspex is commonly known here as Plexiglass. <br> <br>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!
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.<br/><br/>You might also want to look into straight AVRs (start <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Ghetto-Programming:-Getting-started-with-AVR-micro/">!)</a>. 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 -&gt; milklights that you're looking for.<br/><br/>If you'd like advice with that, just shoot me a pm, but great work, and congrats!<br/>
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&quot; you should come up with several methods for programming basic ATMega's using an arduino board.
Great Work!!!
Can you use PWM with a transistor? Thanks
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.
Cheers :)<br/><br/>I just did a quick test with PWM on the bottles connected to the right pins:<br/><br/><div style="margin-left:15px;"> <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/Kk_9uM75HT4"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/Kk_9uM75HT4" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="344" wmode="transparent"></embed></object></div><br/><br/>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 :)<br/><br/>Also, the Arduino environment contains a much more straightforward example of PWM using a single pin in File &gt; Sketchbook &gt; Examples &gt; Analog &gt; Fading<br/>
Or you could simply use the SoftPWM library for arduino that gives you PWM on all pins.
have a look at ti's tlc5940: <a rel="nofollow" href="http://focus.ti.com/docs/prod/folders/print/tlc5940.html">http://focus.ti.com/docs/prod/folders/print/tlc5940.html</a>, that has 16 pwm pins for leds, and can be daisy-chained for more. thats what i am using.<br/><br/>great instructable, keep up the good work.<br/>
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.<br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://students.washington.edu/acleone/codes/tlc5940arduino/html_r012/">http://students.washington.edu/acleone/codes/tlc5940arduino/html_r012/</a><br/>Thanks,<br/>Joe]<br/>
I was about to recommend that! damn second... lol. (The TLC)
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!
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.
Wow you drink a lot of milk!
&nbsp;nice work
NM my question it is yea you can do it and i looks cool to<br />
do u think that u cud stop the RGB LED colour fade and thin make it go again to choose a new colour?<br />
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
Congratulations on the win Nachimir - it's a great project!
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.
Yeah, I learned a lot from this, and would have loved to be able to make a PCB for it.
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.
Thanks for the tip. I'm only just learning about all the components there are out there.
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?
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 :)
what about adding a tepture sensor that controls the dimness or even coulour of ligt
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...
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.
Aha :)<br/><br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://photos-b.ak.fbcdn.net/photos-ak-sf2p/v166/99/109/573224364/n573224364_518937_6813.jpg">http://photos-b.ak.fbcdn.net/photos-ak-sf2p/v166/99/109/573224364/n573224364_518937_6813.jpg</a><br/>
i wonder how one could program the arduino to control dimness and creating a breathing light effect on various bottles. sweet project, very inspiring.
Thanks very much, everyone.<br/><br/>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.<br/><br/>I made a little demo of PWM with an RGB LED:<br/><div style="margin-left:15px;"> <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/hwV07dDHsaA"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/hwV07dDHsaA" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="344" wmode="transparent"></embed></object></div><br/><br/>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 :)<br/>
you could use the arduino mega it has 11 pwm pins
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 :)
Very nice! Wouldn't be too much of a leap to seal the tops/lid and make some very unique Christmas lights.....
I love the way the light cycles up through the bottles. Quite a mesmerizing thing to watch! I would have been tempted to put reflective foil on the inside of the lids myself, give more glow in the actual bottle.
I thought about that too, but decided I quite like the blue glow cast up the cable by the lids :)
Beautiful video and pictures - great project!
The level of detail of this instructable is incredible. Great work.
Wow! Wow! Thats all I can say! This is simple amazing! I love it! 5 stars! This is a great instructable. Very in depth. I love it. I'm just getting into the arduino and this is exactly what I needed for a project I'm working on. Thanks, Joe

About This Instructable




Bio: I live in the UK. Half my working time is spent running indie games events, the rest is spent prototyping… things ¬¬ I used to take ... More »
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