I love LED graffiti, but I don't like the idea that the batteries die after a short time, after which point it becomes just more junk.
Solar garden lights (normally used to adorn a path) are simple devices which use solar panels to charge a rechargeable battery in the day, then they automatically switch an LED on at night. Since they are now very cheap, and are even often thrown away, so we can use these to create self-sufficient (EVER LIVING!) glowing graffiti to adorn your garden or neighbourhood.
After thinking about places for an installation - somewhere interesting, beautiful, that wouldn't get disturbed - I decided on underwater.
So, inspired by nature, this art project re-creates beautiful, mysterious, bio-luminescent creatures from the deep sea in your urban canal, pond or river environment. In the initial test phase of this project, I built 2 creatures, one based loosely on a jellyfish and the other on a sea slug.
Essentially we take some cheap solar LED garden lights and re-hack them into creatures shapes, using mostly hot glue. The solar panels float on the surface of the water like lily pads and the LED creatures are submerged a few inches below the surface so that their glow is visible from the bank, pondside, or canal towpath.
You will need
+ solar LED garden lights - any type can be made into creatures, use you imagination! I used one fibre optic 'brush' type, and another basic light set
+ (optional) flashing LEDs or flashing LED toys, e.g. LED rope necklace
+ soldering tools and very basic electronics
+ a lot of hot glue for sticking and waterproofing
+ small containers which can be made waterproof using hot glue
+ sand maybe as ballast
OK let's go!
Step 1: Creature 1: sea slug
1. cut all the brush lights free
2. use hot glue to stick the brushes to a 'body'. I used cable ties glued together as a skeleton body as it's a bit flexible, and the same colour. You could use anything. For example, if you were making a sea anemone, you might use an upside down plastic bowl, with the brushes sticking out radially. Enjoy creating whatever creature or non-creature shape you like!
3. re-solder all the LED wires in parallel. I used a breadboard here as you can see in the photo.
4. solder the power leads back on to the breadboard.
5. waterproof everything using liberal amounts of hot glue. CAUTION: use a lot of glue, but be careful - the glue melts the brushes, and if you get a blob of glue on the brushes, you face a sticky mess that is very hard to get out of!
6. that's it! arrange the device so that the solar panel floats on top, and the creature floats about 1-2ft below the surface, depending on how dark/murky it is!
I wish I had a video, the brushes sway underwater and look simply eerie and beautiful.