Introduction: Constellation Light Frame

In this Instructable I show how to make a simple constellation light with LED strips and an arduino!

I chose to make ursa minor.

Here is the material I used to make the constellation:

  • Wall frame
  • Black cardboard
  • 5v LED strip (144 leds per meter)
  • Arduino
  • Wires
  • Wire cutter
  • Soldering iron and solder wire
  • Wire connector for 3 wires
  • 2 * 220 ohms resistors
  • Button

* I recently made another project using LED strips and an arduino. Both have similar steps for the Arduino connections and sketch! (you can view the other project on my Instructables page)

Step 1: Make the Frame

Choose a medium to large frame.

Cut a black cardboard so it fits the size frame. This will be the background for the constellation.

Step 2: Find a Constellation

Find a constellation to your liking and keep an image of it as reference for the next steps.

I chose ursa minor.

Step 3: Cut the Strip

Using your image as a reference, trace the constellation, on the black cardboard very faintly with a pencil. Cut the led strip in pieces so it fits the constellation you traced. Place (not stick!) the pieces on top of the trace to visualise how it will look.

Step 4: Connect the Strips

Solder the strips together.

There is a direction to follow when connecting, indicated by the arrows on top of the strip. In my case, the connection near the arrow is ground, the middle is to control the leds, and the bottom is the voltage input. I used white to connect the grounds together, green for the middle and red for voltage.

I used about an inch and a half of wires between two strips. This is so it can be easier to handle and solder. Also, it is long enough so it can be hidden on the other side of the black cardboard later on.

Finally for the first strip, the one connected to the arduino, I used a long piece of wire (a little longer than the length of the frame) so it can be easily connected to the arduino later on. I added a connector to the wires so it can be easily connected to the arduino.

Step 5: Cut Holes at the Junctions

Pierce a small hole using scissors at the junctions of the constellation on the cardboard.

The hole must be large enough to fit 6 wires.

Step 6: Place the Strips

One pair of strips at a time, place the wires of the junction in the hole and stick the first strip of the pair on the board. Repeat until all the strips are placed.

Step 7: Arrange the Wires

Tape the wires of the constellation on the backside of the black cardboard.

Step 8: Put the Frame Together

Place the black cardboard on the frame and add a transparent protector if possible.

Step 9: Connect to the Arduino

To add some light, we need to connect our strip to the arduino.

Add a connection from the ground pin of the arduino to the ground of the strip.

Add a connection from the 5v output of the arduino to the input source of the strip.

Finally, add a connection from the pin 6 to the data input of the strip. (It is suggested to add two 220 ohms for a total of 440 ohms to the data connection of the strip)

Add a button to the breadboard and add the connections to pin 2 of the arduino

Step 10: Upload the Sketch to the Arduino

To control the leds, there’s a great Adafruit library. There’s also plenty of sketch samples once you installed the library.

You’ll probably need to modify the led count in the sketch

For the effects, I used and modified some effects made from this source: But you can easily make your own and get inspired from plenty of different sources!

Step 11: Final Touches

Place the frame on a wall or let it rest on any piece of furniture.

Test the different effects by pressing the button and when done, connect the arduino with a battery.

And you're done!

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