Introduction: Fast Fiber-Optic Light Pipe Hack With Sugru

Polymath Design lab made a "Skirt full of Stars" using fiber-optic light pipe.
http://www.polymathdesignlab.com/etextiles/starskirt/

Their instructions suggested attaching LEDs to the end of fiber-optic light pipe using heatshrink. However, I found this method challenging because light pipe has a low melting point. So I looked for alternative methods to focus LED light into the light pipe. 

Here is a quick way to make strands of fiber-optic material light up, without heatshrink. It is a non-permanent solution, so if you want to reuse the fiber optics they can be easily removed. Also, this is one way to use expired sugru.

Materials:

1 LED
some Fiber-Optic light pipe strands (so people don't have to buy yards of it at once, I put small quantities for sale at http://www.gadgetcat.com/?product=fiberoptic-lightpipe)
plastic drinking straw
~2" duct tape (black electrical tape would be even better)
3V coin battery for testing

Quick overview of assembly:

Stick an LED and fiber-optic light pipe inside a straw, use expired Sugru to hold the LED in. Wrap with duct tape or black electrical tape to help focus all the light into the light pipe.

Step 1: Cut the (stiff) Sugru

A use for expired Sugru. 

Use the piece of straw to mark the size of the Sugru plug for the end of the straw

Step 2: Push LED Leads Through Sugru Plug

Step 3: Insert LED & Plug Into Straw

The rubbery Sugru will help hold the LED in place.

Step 4: Insert Fiber-optic Light Pipe in Other End of Straw

Insert coin cell battery to test. You may need to flip the battery around. Press the fiber optic strands as close to the LED as possible, and try to point the ends directly at the LED. As much light as possible needs to enter each strand so it can travel to the other end. 

Step 5: Fasten Light Pipe and Seal in Light Simulataneously

To direct as much light as possible into the fiber optic strands, wrap the straw/light pipe with a dark tape. Any light you see near the straw, is light that is not getting into the light pipe. 

Pinch both ends of the tape to secure the light pipe, and the LED leads.

I used duct tape because it was readily available. However, black electrical tape probably would be more effective. Another possibility would be to wrap a very narrow strip of aluminum foil around the outside of the straw to reflect light back in, THEN wrap it in electrical tape. Just make sure none of the circuit can accidentally touch the aluminum foil and short out.


Step 6: Test the Light

Test again with the coin cell battery. Adjust positioning of light pipe and re-pinch if necessary. 

That's it!  A fast, easy, and temporary way to attach fiber optic light pipe to an LED.

Comments

author
jeanniel1 made it!(author)2015-04-08

Wow, what an easy and inexpensive way to make this. Esp like the expired Sugru = now I know what I can use that stuff for also.

author
xKOBAYASHIMARUx made it!(author)2013-08-02

Very cool! I like the use of recycled materials!! I actually think you were right on with using duct tape! Black electrical tape would probably make things worse not better as it would "absorb" light rather than reflect it. I do like your suggestion to wrap it in foil first though! (Or you could use some foil tape) That's essentially how a fiber optic data cable works! :)

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