Introduction: Fiber Optic Laser Fans

About: An engineer, seamstress, cook, coder, and overall maker. Spent a summer at Instructables; got a degree in E: Neural Engineering at Olin College; made a microcontroller (; now thinking about climate c…

What's cool? Fiber optics.
What's cooler? Lasers.
What's awesome? Fire fans.

his instructable was inspired in part by fire fans and in part by the bionic ballerina

Each fan is made of five fiber optic rods, lit by tilt sensor to be red or yellow, and two lasers.

I have a video below of the fiber optic part working, but my camera isn't nice enough to give the full effect, especially the lasers. You'll have to trust me that they're awesome.

This is part of a light-up dance costume that goes with the dazzle jacket and lightcatcher dress. The costumes are intended to aid self-expression and augment the inherent drama and design of the dance costume.

Laser fans allow the dancer to transform any dark place into a dance floor with their visible beams, immersing the audience in the experience. The fiber optic rods, which can be used independently of the lasers, highlight the area close to the dancer and the dancer's specific movements (the dancer can interact with the fans by flipping them to change their color). Without the lasers, the fiber optics create an intimately lit dance space on a dark stage.

Step 1: Materials

.25" acrylic rods
cutting mat (for use as a material)
heat shrink tubing
super bright green laser pointers (these ones are awesome, though they take a very long time to get here)
tilt sensor
button cell battery

vertical band saw
drill press
hot glue gun
soldering iron
heat gun

Step 2: Cut Fiber Optics to Size

Whatever length you want them.

Step 3: Prototype Spread

Cut some cardboard with holes in it and stick your rods through to see what hole spacing works for you.

Step 4: Cut Up the Cutting Mat

Cut the cutting mat into rectangles of two different sizes, each about 1.5" wide. Drill holes the exact width of your fiber optic rods.

If you're cleverer than I, skip ahead to step 8. Otherwise, if you don't have your lasers yet, carry on.

Slide the rods in and position them to preference. Secure with hot glue.

Step 5: Make Your Circuit

Connect the ground ends of a red LED and a yellow LED. Connect tilt sensor's outputs to the red and the yellow, and the input to power.

Step 6: Heat Shrink LEDs Together and Onto Fans

Use 3:1 shrink tubing if you have thin rods like the ones on the ends of my fan.

Solder together all of the reds, all of the yellows, and all of the grounds as shown. Solder tilt sensor accordingly.

Step 7: Position the Whole Circuit

Mount the tilt sensor, switch, and battery to the bottom of the cutting mat so they won't be jostled during use.

Step 8: Drill the Holes for the Lasers.

If you didn't skip to this step from step 4, you'll have to use a really long drillbit and a hand drill.

Drill the larger strip of cutting mat so that the laser just fits through. I used a sheet metal step drill to hand-do the last little bit to ensure it's tight.

Drill the smaller strip so that the laser can sit comfortably. 

Work the lasers into the holes. Glue the base if necessary (but don't glue both parts of the laser!). If your big cutting mat strip happens to be at button-height on the laser, then you can turn the lasers on and off by sliding them in and out of the holes. If it's not, electrical tape the button down and unscrew the battery compartment until it turns off.

Step 9: Play With Your New Toy!

MakerBot Challenge

Participated in the
MakerBot Challenge

Wicked Lasers Contest

Participated in the
Wicked Lasers Contest