Firefly Forest

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Introduction: Firefly Forest

Hi! Welcome to my second instructable. I liked sharing the previous one so much, I decided to have another go!

OK, after finishing the Borg Kjoeb I was left with another PumLantern kit with only green LEDs. What to do? I decided to try my hand at some diorama building, as I now had all these paint thingys from the previous build. Having never made a diorama before, there would be plenty of new stuff to learn!

Let's go!

Supplies

For the frame and the base

  • IKEA picture frame BAS (not sure if they still sell these)
  • foamboard (0.5 cm thickness)
  • cardboard

For the diorama

  • expanding insulation foam stuff (use in a well ventilated area)
  • wall filler
  • acrylic paints (I mainly used greens and browns)
  • some really really dry twigs (not sure if "real" wood can be used, time will tell)
  • decorative moss that you can buy at the hobby shop
  • some small gravel stones, ground coffee or sand and other bits and bobs

For the fireflies

  • optical fiber: I got mine from a cheap toy, and simply cut the strands that I needed
  • pumlantern kit from Solarbotics
  • electrical tape
  • hotglue
  • tacky glue (white glue)

Tools

  • soldering iron
  • exacto knife
  • drill
  • infinite patience or beer

OK! Let's build!

Step 1: A Frame Within a Frame

I made an internal frame that would fit snugly within the BAS wooden box. The sidewalls are made of cardboard. The base and the back are made of foamboard. I left a bit of space at the back to fit in the LEDs later.

After some fiddling, it fitted perfectly within the box.

Step 2: Foam Party!

So, I needed to have a place to hide the electronics in. That's where the expanding foam stuff comes in.

I basically made a blob out of expanding foam that you normally use to insulate your house. Then I cut the piece so that it fits inside the box.

The electronics fit inside the cutout space inside the foam.

Step 3: Fill in the Gaps

Time to smoothe out the foam stuff. For this step I used wall filler. Mine had a structure to it, but you can use any wallfiller I guess. I thinned the filler with some water (waaaaay too much, so add small amounts of water at a time - don't be like me)

I also painted the base in foresty colors, and glued a forest backdrop to the back.

After the filler had dried, the piece (of course) did not fit into the box anymore. No worries! Just cut a slice of the backpart until it fits

I also painted the "blob" with acrylic paint. Turns out that brown basically made it look like a piece of.....

Yeah, I repainted it with different shades of green after that (sorry, no pictures).

Step 4: Frustrations Part 1

Oh my.... making a fake forest is FIDDLY WORK!!

Tacky glue really behaves differently than the superglue I'm used to. In the end it worked, but it really took some getting used to. Especially the longer drying times!

In the end, it turned out OK and I was pretty happy with it.

Step 5: Frustrations Part Deux

And now... the optical fiber. As you can imagine... this was the most fiddly of fiddliness...

With a needle and a bent paperclip I pricked holes in the places where I wanted the indvidual fibers to go.

And then simply threaded the fiber through the holes. So far, so good!

Glueing the optical fibers into place is best done with tacky glue. Hot glue melts the fibers if you're not careful!

Step 6: Let There Be Light!

The Pumlantern has 4 LEDs, so I had to make 4 separate groups of optical fiber. Fun!

I randomly made groups, and checked in between with an LED if the groups looked OK on the front.

Time to assemble the PumLantern circuitboard as well! Do not attach the LEDs to the board as they need to be away from the circuitboard, so that they can be attached to the optic fibers later.

First put some heatshrink tube around the four groups. Then, cut the fibers to the correct length.

With a second piece of heatshrink tube, I connected the fibers to the LED's. Not all fibers survived the heatshrinking, unfortunately.

Attach the LEDs to the back of the foamcore with a dab of hotglue. Let the glue cool down a bit before you press the LED with the fibers in it...it saves you your fingers and the optical fibers.

Step 7: Testrun and Some Problemsolving

After attaching the LEDs tot the backpanel, it was time for a testrun. I drilled a hole in the frame for the solar panel wires. Then I slid the whole thing in and it still fitted! Yay!

Unfortunately, there were some major light leakages that needed to be fixed. The LEDs that were provided by Solarbotics are exactly what they say on the box... Ultra Bright LEDs. So I had to dimm them down a bit.

I wrapped the LEDs in black electrical tape. To make sure there was no light leakage from the top, I also created an electrical tape "lightdam" to block the light.

Then, put everything back into the box, and tadaaa DONE!

Oh, yeah, you do need to solder the solar cell to the wires of course. But then you're done!

Enjoy your own personal forest with firefly lightshow!

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    12 Comments

    0
    tenaj634
    tenaj634

    11 months ago on Introduction

    I absolutely love your stuff,👍 and know nothing about electronics, modeling, 😳 or any of it, but would like to learn. Thanks for the inspiration. Right now I paint trash, (upcycling, right?) with political commentary, Among other things.❤️

    0
    skuiper
    skuiper

    Reply 11 months ago

    Thank you so much! My electronics skills are on the "monkey see, monkey do" - level, although I have a basic understanding of how circuitry works. These Solarbotics kits really helped to get started, as they provide a step by step explanation and also provide some background info. Upcycling with political commentary sounds interesting! Would love to see your stuff :)

    0
    Tweetysvoice
    Tweetysvoice

    Question 11 months ago

    Has anybody tried this as a live closed ecosystem? Really cool idea. I might have to try that, as I'm really into ecosystem terrariums right now. Keeping the optical light fireflies will continue the interest if the organisms are all micro. Cool idea! Thank you for sharing.

    0
    skuiper
    skuiper

    Answer 11 months ago

    To be honest... I hope not. I liked creating this tiny artificial firefly forest, but as the number of fireflies in the wild in our country are declining rapidly, I think it is best to leave them alone. Although I'm no expert on terraria, so perhaps a sustainable way of keeping them enclosed exists.

    0
    Tweetysvoice
    Tweetysvoice

    Reply 11 months ago

    No! No! I believe you misunderstood me. The only fireflies that would be in my live ecosystem would be the fiber-optic ones, as you are using. I'm more referring to real soil, live plants, and possibly some springtails rolly pollies to keep the system going full circle. I would never put an organism with that complicated of a life cycle into a small enclosed ecosystem. Sorry to confuse you and anybody else it may have misunderstood what I stated in my excited rush to post a comment. 😜

    0
    skuiper
    skuiper

    Reply 11 months ago

    Haha, yes I indeed misunderstood - thankfully! Thanks for explaining! In that case.... I would love to see how this works in a real terrarium. Also the problem solving that is involved regarding the relative humidity inside a real terrarium. It would be interesting indeed!

    0
    and7barton
    and7barton

    11 months ago

    Would it be feasible to have real fireflies ?

    0
    skuiper
    skuiper

    Reply 11 months ago

    Feasible? Maybe. Desirable? No, I personally don't think so. Let the real critters do their thing outside in the forest, they have a rough enough time already as it is (at least, in my country the number of fireflies are rapidly declining).

    0
    daharrold
    daharrold

    11 months ago

    Is the PCB with parts only available for purchas?

    Untitled.png
    0
    skuiper
    skuiper

    Reply 11 months ago

    If you go over to the Solarbotics website (or perhaps even through Google) you can find the electrical scheme to create this circuit yourself (if that's what you're looking for). They provide this info for free, which is one of the reasons why I think they are awesome. Tip: Solarbotics have provided a discount in the comments section of my Borg Kjoeb instructable if you do decide to purchase.

    0
    Penolopy Bulnick
    Penolopy Bulnick

    11 months ago

    This is really cute and the lights are a wonderful bonus :)

    0
    skuiper
    skuiper

    Reply 11 months ago

    Thank you!