Introduction: Tilt Activated LED Glow Cube

I can thank Instructibles for inspiring me to make various LED projects for my family and friends. Now it's time to publish my first instructible on my latest and favorite project so far.

This instructible will show you how to quickly and easily build your own tilt activated color changing light cube!



Step 1: What You'll Need

The materials I used are:

1) 3 5mm rgb slow fading LEDs (look on ebay. I found 50 for $12)
2) 1 baseball display box (hobby store, $2.99)
3) clear glass marbles (hobby store $.99)
4) 1 9v battery holder (Radio Shack, $.99)
5) 9v battery clip (Radio Shack approx $3 for 5)
6) 1 sub-mini momentary switch (Radio Shack $1.50)
7) soldering iron
8) glue gun

Step 2: Assembling the Electronics


First solder your LEDs in series. I used 3 5mm LEDs that have a forward voltage of approx 3.2v, so in this project I didn't use a resistor with the 9v battery. Solder the LEDs so that the positive (the longer leg) of one goes to the negative (shorter leg) of the next. Next, solder your negative battery clip wire to the positive end one of your end LEDs.

I needed a hole in the bottom of the cube for the momentary switch and found that the soldering iron did an ideal job. I melted the hole to the right size and slipped the switch in. When the plastic cooled, the switch was secure. The actually switch part sticks out just enough from the bottom to be pressed when the cube is set down with a little pressure.

Finally, solder the positive lead of the battery clip to one of the switch posts, and the final LED leg to the other post.

Test your connections with the battery. If all is well, use a drop of glue on each of the 3 supports made to hold the baseball and secure your LEDs. trim any excess.

Step 3: Almost Done!

The area in the middle of the LEDs is a perfect fit for the battery holder. Glue that right in the middle. secure your battery vertically. Don't worry, once the marbles are in place, you won't be able to notice the battery.

This baseball cube comes in two pieces that slide together.  In order to add the marbles, put it together, leaving just enough separated to fit the glass marbles through. It can be a little tricky, but if you cover the bottom openings and take your time, you'll be able to fill it up quickly.Stop occasionally and shake it lightly to even out the way the marbles sit. Don't try to overfill or you won't be able to close it properly!

To hold the two pieces closed, you could glue them together. I choose not to so that I can easily change the battery when need be. You can use what you like to secure them, but I chose an elastic decorative string I had around. Tied tightly, this keeps the whole cube in place and makes it look like a small gift.

Step 4: The Finished Project

The weight of the marbles will activate the momentary switch when you set it upright. The marbles do a fantastic job of diffusing the light from the LEDs. And once they start changing colors out of sync, you'll end up with three distinct colors at a time!

I'd love to see different variations done on this. I plan on trying different colored marbles/materials. Let me know what you think!

-CC

Comments

author
Sky Woulf (author)2011-02-22

Verry Nice!
now if i could wire up a pressure switch it would turn on when ever i set something on it, oh yea; also some sort of randomizer circut and you could have a different color every time you set your glass on it!

author
zcrank (author)2010-12-18

To the author, yes "I" was confused. I wanted to see a tilt switch activate the circuit. I didn't get the part of the marbles pushing on the momentary switch to complete the circuit. I see the switch in the 1st picture and it just did not relate. For some reason I can't see videos from Instructables. Thanks for clearing that up. BTW, I asked because I really like this Instructable and wanted very much to make one as a Xmas gift. Very cool and simple, nice!

author
asporkable (author)zcrank2010-12-23

I'd love to see everyone's own versions of these! Using a real tilt switch would be very easy and much more ideal.

BTW, I recently acquired a classic metal gumball machine on a stand and will be making a new project with it involving the glass marbles and LEDs. It's just going to have to wait until after the holidays. I'll post it on Instructibles of course!

author
Pirondizzle (author)2010-12-18

Do you think this could be made with some old Christmas tree lights instead of the LEDs?

author
asporkable (author)Pirondizzle2010-12-18

Oh absolutely. Try covering the insides with paper, or frosted laminate (hey, frosted shrinky-dink paper works great), or maybe even spray with frosted paint. Then stuff with your led xmas lights. The only problem here is the size. A baseball memorabilia box like I used would be a bit small. However, they do make them for basketballs, too!

author
stall3 (author)2010-12-10

Thanks for the resistor link. I want to build this project with a resistor. What resistor part do I need, and where do I put it inline with the LEDs? I can read a million sites with reistor basics, but specific to this build, what do I need specifically? Thank you very much. This is a very cool project. I hope to get my kids involved too.

- s3

author
asporkable (author)stall32010-12-10

http://led.linear1.org/led.wiz
this site is the goto site for LEDs and resistors :)

author
stall3 (author)asporkable2010-12-10

Great. Thank you. I really appreciate the resistor color help on that site. I like the diagrams on this site a bit more for us noobies: http://ledcalc.com/

Can anyone find some reasonably priced micro, non-mercury tilt switches that don't ship from overseas? Sometimes waiting for a shipment from China hurts too much.

Thanks again. This cute little build has me hooked now :)

-s3

author
crayc (author)2010-07-19

I wanted to make a table out of this. Out of plexiglass. Is it possible to make like a bar table. thanks

author
asporkable (author)crayc2010-07-19

Absolutely! It would actually be very simple to do unless you want something more interactive that lights up when you put down a drink. Just make sure you use the right resistors with whatever power source you choose. You can expand on several different smaller led projects listed on this site to get started. I've been thinking of doing something similar, my only problem being I don't have the tools or workspace to do any wood building. If you do make a table/bar, be sure to post it here on Instructibles for us to see! Leds make everything better lol

author
crayc (author)asporkable2010-07-19

I have a few problems, i do not know how to solder, not a big issue. Should not be a problem. but programming it would be a problem. http://www.creativenightclubs.com/liquidfloor.htm scroll to the bottom of that. I was hoping to go for something similar to that. Thinking of frosted plexiglass.

author
asporkable (author)crayc2010-07-19

Actually, I think the liquid floor/bar stuff looks pretty simple. The "lava" is just a colored water/oil mixture in a sealed soft plastic container. Something like this: http://www.ehow.com/how_6461779_diy_-1960s-oil-light-show.html Under that are the color changing LEDs or lights. No programming required from what I can see (At least going by the video on the site). It looks like it gets brighter when you push on it because it's simply getting close to the light source. The only tough part is how to contain the liquid/oil properly.

author
crayc (author)asporkable2010-07-19

hmm, well i was thinking of opening a bar, i will experiment on that floor now. thanks http://www.disco-designer.com/NIGHTCLUB_PLASTIC_FURNITURE_CUBE_TABLES.html they have those cubes there. Those look fairly easy to make and won't cost you an arm and a leg to purchase.

author
Gakki (author)2010-07-11

I bet this would be really cool combined with that holocron cube posted a few years back.

author
Redfrk (author)2010-07-02

Cool project! The diodes I got have four pins on the bottom. I am an LED novice, so I'm wondering if someone can explain the four pins to me before I start soldering. thx!

author
godofal (author)Redfrk2010-07-04

it's a superflux LED, where did you get them? just find out where u've gotten em, look up for a datasheet or something... if you cannot find one, just take a 3V coincell, and try different options, in the end ul get the right 2 then.

author
Redfrk (author)godofal2010-07-08

hey guys! thanks for the responses. I finally found something that explains what they are. Yes, they are RGB LEDs, but I don't think they glow with all three colors. I got them from Radio shack and they were more expensive than the LED's listed here. Found out that each color the LED produces has it's own anode leg. I ended up finding the right LEDs online. I'm getting a box of 50 for $8. I'm looking forward to putting a bunch of these together as unique gifts.

author
godofal (author)Redfrk2010-07-09

yeah, ebay rocks, u buy stuff right out of the factory, wich is REALLY cheap, compared to retail sellers... some online shop i used to order from charged €1.20 or so for a regular blue LED, but if u look around on ebay, u can get 1000 of em for 20bucks, making it about $0.05 per LED...

author
gmxx (author)Redfrk2010-07-07

Is it an RGB led? these leds combine all the colors in one package, and allow you to select a color. the 3 leds control the 3 RGB colors and one leg is ground or positive.

author
gmxx (author)2010-06-30

You are running the leds in SERIES. Serial is a data transfer protocol. Anyways, cool project. future upgrade would be to get one of the mercury tilt switches. that way, you're not relying on something as mechanical as that. Frys has them for about a dollar or so. the dollar tree tilt lights should have them as well. I believe that things should require the least amount of mechanical movement, but thats just my opinion.

author
godofal (author)gmxx2010-07-01

maybe even better to use a roll-ball tilt switch, since those marbles could crush the container, spilling the mercury, wich isnt a good thing :D and btw, i thought those things weren't being made anymore?

author
gmxx (author)godofal2010-07-01

The roll ball type would work as well. Im not sure about availability. i know the frys i frequent has the mercury switch type. YMMV

author
godofal (author)gmxx2010-07-04

where i come from, the mercury isnt available at all, becouse it's not enviromental-friendly, should it break...

author
gmxx (author)godofal2010-07-04

Yeah... Either way, there are tilt switches available.

author
zascecs (author)2010-07-01

Neat idea! This is really good, but could we also see a video of this in action?

author
asporkable (author)zascecs2010-07-01

Video added :)

author
zascecs (author)asporkable2010-07-01

Looking awesome!

author
mario59 (author)2010-07-01

Ciao! You've got a NICE, CLEVER & NEAT idea for a gift! I *LOVE* easy things and this is one of them! I wonder where I could buy that box... Where you find it? Also I think the crystal clear marbles do a grat job, but maybe ONLY A FEW of coloured one can add something... Do you have a short video of the working thing? Compliments and CIAO ! ! ! Mario ;-)

author
asporkable (author)mario592010-07-01

added a video :) I found the baseball display box at Hobby Lobby. If you don't have one of those or a similar store near you, I found it online at http://www.amazon.com/BallQube-BaseQube-Baseball-Holder-Cube/dp/B000M3JC86 It costs a bit more on amazon, but still cheap.

author
zack247 (author)2010-06-30

kind of reminds me of those water filled pyramids with the little marbles inside. great project!

author
eripe (author)2010-06-30

Nice idea. I suppose you could user Christmas lightning too.

author
richard_redryder (author)2010-06-30

Perhaps it is useful to also add resistors, so the LEDs do not burn out at some point

author

well, the forward voltage of these LEDs are 3.2-3.6v. From what I know (which, granted, isn't a lot lol) that shouldn't require a resistor when running serial against a 9v battery. If I ran them parallel, I'd definitely put in a resistor.

author

This site explains it: http://led.linear1.org/why-do-i-need-a-resistor-with-an-led/

author

Thanks :) The link is appreciated and I'll keep it in mind on my next project!

author
ChrysN (author)2010-06-30

Ooh pretty!

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