Instructables

Solar Powered Light-Graffiti Projector

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Picture of Solar Powered Light-Graffiti Projector
I recently read this interesting article in Wired magazine about "Light-Graffiti Hackers". The Problem with light-graffities is that you need a power source to make them permanent, so you usually can't put them everywhere you like. So I thought about making a small solar powered Light-Graffiti Projector that can be mounted nearly everywhere. The problem is that it mustn't be very expensive in case it gets stolen, confiscated or whatever. First I thought about using a cheap laser pointer as a projector source, but you can't make these caps to display different symbol by yourself. They are called "Holographic Optical Elements" and they are very expensive in production if you only need one with your special image (tell me if you know how to make them by your own). So I decided to use a LED. I also noticed that solar panels are still very expensive, but then I found one of these solar powered garden lights for only 5 Euros and transformed it into a "Solar Powered Light-Graffiti Projector".
 
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Step 1: This is what you need

One solar powered garden lamp for about 5 Euros. Found mine at the German electronics supply store "Conrad". One optic lens to focus the projected image. One ultra bright LED, the one in the garden light is usually to dim. I took a red one. Two small pipes of aluminium or plastics, each about 5 cm in length, that fit into another. The outer tube should have the same radius as the lens.
The image you want to project on the wall, printed on a transparency film. You should print it with a high resolution because the image is magnified.

Step 2: Disassemble garden lamp

Picture of Disassemble garden lamp
First of all you have to remove everything except the top of the garden light which houses the solar panel and the LED. After this replace the LED with the brighter one.

Step 3: Add smaller tube

Picture of Add smaller tube
Now take some hot glue and mount the LED at one end of the smaller tube. On the other end you have to attach the transparency film.

Step 4: Mount bigger tube

Picture of Mount bigger tube
Finally slide the bigger tube on the smaller one and attach the lens on the bigger tube with some glue. If you like you can attach a stand like a tripod, as I did. You also should put some hot glue on all holes to make your projector weatherproof.

Step 5: Final projector

Picture of Final projector
Now you only need to find a place where you can put it. You should carefully choose a place with a lot of sunlight. The advantage of the used solar garden light is that it only lights up at night when the graffiti can be seen. I've tested mine on the balcony the last days but I have to say that the sun here in winter is too weak to give the energy for a whole night of projection. Perhaps I should wait till spring until I expose my projector to the street. So watch out, perhaps you will see one of these someday in Munich.
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Phillistine1 month ago

Cool idea!

ilpug2 years ago
Oh man, you should be in GRL... I love this!
ANDY!2 years ago
Sweet project.
shadow076 years ago
That's a really good idea. I have to ask though. Does the solar panel have to face the sun directly for it to be efficient??
shadow07, I havent experimented with these small panels much though I do have some solar walkway lights (currently buried underneath the snow = not very effective). From what I have read about solar water heating panels, and should be true for all solar panels, is generally facing your panel south and with a little bit of tip toward the south (instead of the panel looking straight up) you are going to get just about the same results (within 10%) of getting a solar contractor to come out to your house and align it for the 100% best angle.
south facing for northern hem, north facing for southern
thanks. good catch. I guess I was thinking too locally. these here "internets" are kind of a big deal ALL OVER the world, huh? ; )
yeh can't blame you for forgetting. i don't seem to be able to get the lens. so none of this information is helpful to the southern hemisphere. but thats no fault of the people here, its the damn lack of people in Australia and lack of demand for a simple convex glass lens.
Go to any pharmacy and look at the 'readers' bifocals glasses...would any of them do the job? Can you not shop on the ubiquitous Internet?
RDN1 (author)  shadow076 years ago
I didn't have the chance to test it, but I think a clear sky would be sufficient. I often see these lights in the neigborhood and they are very dim in winter. I would suggest aiming for a better solar panel.
hi
they work fine as garden lights not pointed directly at the sun, i don't see why the changes would make them work any different.
urtlesquirt3 years ago
Dude this rocks.
does it have to be a solar lantern
letters3 years ago
What is the size of the lenses?
jakk215 years ago
what does RDN stand for?
tleec11b jakk213 years ago
the doods name irl is prob rodney.... now shorten it rdni or rdn1.. thats my guess
its the dudes name on instructables
beehard444 years ago
grab one of those cheap LCD alarm clocks and remove the back layer of the LCD and put it in the tube and, DIY PROJECTOR ALARM CLOCK! get it?
themonorail5 years ago
or even just a whole telescope??
themonorail5 years ago
can i just use a lens from a telescope or something?
paulezra5 years ago
can anyone help find a supplyer of the lens in australia. or a place that will ship them to australia. thanks
911TargaSC5 years ago
This is a great project. A practical use for it could be to project your street address on to the pavement at night allowing for easier location of your hosue by the pizza guy... and we all want our pizza sooner, right? : )
Petrus10025 years ago
Really like this one, and very clever too! Questions though: what type of lens did you use (in milimeters, I mean) and is it convex or concave. Also, how large is the projection? What would you have to change to get a really large projection? Thanks everyone!
Petrus, keep in mind that there are only so many lumens coming out of that LED. As you focus the image to something larger it becomes weaker. that being said, to make the image larger or smaller, experimenting with differnet lenses would be one thing, the easiest would be moving the lens closer or further away from the light source.
mihevic5 years ago
Eye Poker6 years ago
That looks uncannily like a Martain War Machine from War of the Worlds.
jillg Eye Poker5 years ago
thats just what i was thinking
agreed.
it also looks just a little bit evil...
heheheh make sure no jackalopes popup!
maker12 maker126 years ago
lol
I wonder how the transparency from a view master disk would look,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/View-Master.

Cool idea and nice work! :-) I wonder if the same could be done with enough combined solar cells from old/broken garden lights to power a laser pointer to project a brighter image even farther. I'm thinking against the side of a large building. ;-)
This is very cool. You can also try it with one of those RGB LEDs that has a build in microcontroller that makes it flash in various colors (Rainbow LEDs)
I like the micro controller idea I was also thinking on making a version that uses one of those cheap nokia LCDs converted to a projector of course that would take more power then your typical solar light can supply.
That's a really great idea. You can post an Instructable with that idea. I think many people would love it.
I will when I figure out how to make one transmissive the color nokia I took apart didn't show much promise blocked way too much light after ripping the back off so maybe I might look into those cheap DVD players.
What are you planning to use as the light source. some LEDs?
OK, good luck.
agreed! that is brilliant! I am going to work on that. Microprojectors are my new project. And If I can make them cheap enough, i can scatter them around town. For now these static image projectors will have to do, though.
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