Introduction: Star Trek TOS Enterprise Turbolift Light
"Live long and prosper." RIP Leonard Nimoy - Mr. Spock.
Inspired through life from the many ideas, characters and things from Star Trek, The Original Series, here is a take on transforming any small cramped and personal space into your own little turbolift. Science fiction based on science fact. If you are squeezed into some dungeon cubicle or a typical NYC closet apartment, this is great as a meditation light to imagine yourself on a galaxy class starship instead. This would be great to install in the far corner of the office so you can have private conversations with your -captain- manager. Get back to work...
Note: This project is not really ready to pull out of space dock but I thought I would put up what I've got. Fascinating.
Step 1: No Dilithium Crystals Needed...
I was at the plastics supply store - one of the last outposts remaining of the DIY places on NYC's Canal Street. They had these sheets of patterned see through plastic which are probably used as light filters or something. I got one with a 60's psychedelic wavy mod look reminiscent of the stuff they had on the original Enterprise.
The main electronics of this project is two small strips of Adafruit Neopixels. They are addressible LEDs controlled by an Adafruit Trinket Attiny85 based microcontroller. The Trinket is programmed the same way as a regular Arduino.
Yup, I scavenged the parts from my Star Wars Crossguard Lightsaber for this project. The needs of the many new ibles outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.
The rest of the magic is building a case to mount the plastic sheet as a lens for the lights. And to complete the prop, a turbolift handle controller. I had built the case a while back. It's scrap box cardboard and papier mache. Nothing magic about it, cheap and effective.
Step 2: Little Brown Box...
Turbolifts are more than an elevator. Besides travelling up and down between floors, they are capable of horizontal travel. An innovation of the 23rd century.
Probably the best way to do the moving turbolift light effect is with a full matrix of LEDs. But then you get into charlieplexing with regular LEDs or have a more complicated schema of driving addressible Neopixels. We just want to create the illusion of the moving bar of light on two axes. Sometimes old school works.
This is just to have the row of LEDs on the sides cast their light on the box interior.
We might need some baffles or light guides to get it to look right.
You can fabricate the case out of anything, wood, metal, 3D print, etc.
I just made the case to fit around the sheet of plastic. Papier mache - cardboard, paper, glue, water, messy hands and fun.
Step 3: Handle It...
The turbolift controller is shaped from cardboard.
Papier mache the seams.
Step 4: A Trinket or Two...
This again takes the code from the Adafruit Cyberfalls Wig tutorial found on Adafruit's Learning System. You can also see there how to use the Trinket and Neopixels. I just modded the program to use 3 strips, max length of 10 neopixels and changed the code to display white light instead of colors. Where the values are calculated for RGB, they just have to be lit up with the same values for Red, Green and Blue.
As you can see, I salvaged a Neopixel that was excised from the end of a Neopixel strip that was damaged by too much soldering.
The program is driving the 3 strips independently. Well, one strip consists of a single neopixel LED. The program thinks it is looping through 3 strips of 10 neopixels each but it is really three strips with 1, 9, and 10 neopixels. The program can address noexistent pixel addresses without it hanging up. I did not have a chance to mod the program to loop the lights going in the opposite direction. The program does behave badly when the loop counters go out of range or give it negative numbers so I have to try some more with using i--. So if you want to practice your soldering skills and programming skills, try your hand at soldering a few Neopixels strips or bare Neopixels and get them to work.
I try to make breakout boards to try to modularize all of my Arduino projects. It helps to assemble the project and troubleshoot the connections easier. I've got plenty of male and female headers and all it takes is a small chunk of perfboard to make a modular platform. It also consolidates the power distribution you have to do for several LED elements or devices like sensors.
CAUTION: Learn how to solder safely. Bad fumes, hot molten solder, hot wires and parts, electricity, that kind of stuff.
Step 5: Battle Stations...
When the controller papier mache is dry, you can give it a light sanding to smooth out the surface a bit.
Paint with a battleship gray.
I used an awl to poke a hole through the back inset area to feed through the single Neopixel cable.
Position and tape down the Neopixel.
I then stuffed it with some fiberfill batting to diffuse the light.
I found some plastic packaging that I could reuse as the cover for the indicator light. Trim to fit the outline of the recess and hot glue in position.
The handle is a fixed prop but you can build it to turn so you can activate a selector switch.
Step 6: Let There Be Light...
The light boxframe is painted in a retro Martha Stewartish blue.
The back of the light box just has some sheets of white paper glued in there to act as a light diffuser/reflector.
Position and secure the Neopixel light strips to the interior sides of the frame.
Poke a hole to feed the wires to the back where the microprocessor and battery pack are placed.
Wire up all the components.
Test the lights and place pieces of fiberfill to diffuse the light from the Neopixel strips.
Cover with the plastic filter sheet and sandwich with the box cover.
Since the Adafruit Trinket and any other Arduino has the capability of receiving analog sensor input, you can add a proximity sensor, light sensor or IR sensor. The lights can be triggered by the approach of a person. Or you can put a switch or rotary encoder in the handle to activate it in manual mode. Add a sound module so you can have the authentic sounds of the turbolift for full effect.
Anyone want to see RED ALERT?
Accessorize with that shipboard intercom/intruder alarm that you can get for your cubicle wall.
Anybody need a red shirt that fires lasers?
How about Captain Kirk's command chair? We got you covered.
Qapla'. Today is a good day to make.