Introduction: Build Your Own DYI Cloud Lamp!

Why build a cloud lamp? Because it looks awesome! At least that's what people say...

Hey! My name is Erick. This project came to be while considering presents to give to my 3-year-old sister. The cloud lamp is both a decoration and light specifically designed for children. In this Instructable, I will show you how to build your own to have the perfect decoration for your children’s room for less than $40 bucks!

Let me tell you something about this lamp; first of all, it is not only a light. The clouds are driven by an Arduino Uno board and a photoresistor. That being said, this lamp is configured so that when the lights of a room go off the lamp turns on automatically and vice versa. It also has a modifiable timer that turns off the lights after a certain period of time once they're on, because who likes to stand up to turn the lights off right before falling asleep? Gosh...

If you're still not convinced you can go and check other options at the store; oh wait, there are none! This is a unique project that will only take you a couple of hours to build!

You do not need to be an expert on electronic systems. However, you will need basic knowledge of circuits and practice soldering.

Step 1: Materials and Equipment:

To build this lamp you will need the following items:

  1. 2 Paper Lanterns (The number of lanterns depends on how many clouds you want to make!)
  2. Fishing Line or A String
  3. One 3-inch Wooden Dowel
  4. Batting (This can also be obtained from an old pillow if you prefer)
  5. 2 Cup Hooks
  6. Arduino Uno Development Board
  7. 1x Photoresistor
  8. 1x 10k Ohm Resistor
  9. Jumper Wires (Estimate to use from 20-30 wires)
  10. 2x Warm White Light Strings (One set per cloud)
  11. One 100- LED Strip

Tools and Equipment:

  • Glue Gun and Glue Fillings (Estimate to use around 30 fillings)
  • Soldering Station and Solder
  • A Small Plier
  • Electrical Tape
  • Cutter
  • Screwdriver
  • Arduino IDE Software

The materials listed above account for building 2 clouds. The number of items needed may vary based on the number of clouds you want to build.

Step 2: Set Up the Base of the Clouds

What You Need:

  • Paper lanterns set

Take one 8-inch and one 10-inch paper lanterns and insert the metal-base for their respective sizes

Step 3: Build the Clouds!

What You Need:

  • Batting
  • Paper Lanterns
  • Glue Gun and Glue Fillings

Take the glue gun and glue the batting onto the paper lanterns. Each lantern will make one of your clouds. For simplicity, you can put the glue onto the lanterns and then place the batting on top of it.

The amount of batting for each cloud is solely dependent on how fluffy you want your clouds!

Step 4: Divide the LED Strips for the Cloud Lighting

What You Need:

  • LED strip
  • Pliers
  • Cutter

Once the clouds are made, you can start setting up the hardware to build the circuit that is going to drive our lamp!

  • Grab the LED strip and spread it out. We are going to divide the strip into 2 segments, once for each cloud. The LED strip counts with 96 individual LEDs, so going to divide the strip into 2 segments of 48 LEDs each
  • Once you cut the 2 strips, we are going to use the cutter to remove the silicon cover from the ends of each of our strings as shown in the pictures

Step 5: Separate the Diode Strings to Simulate Stars

What You Need:

  • Diode Light String
  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver

In this step, we will set up the diode string that will be hanging down the clouds, as it can be seen in the pictures of the finished lamp.

  • The diode string contains a box to add batteries. Open the box and remove the screw to get access to the small circuit included in the battery box. Firstly, locate the first two cables from top to bottom that are solder into the top right of the board.
  • Snip the VDD and GND wires from the diode string. You can verify the labels next to the wires. They should say L+ and L- (For VDD and GND respectively).

Note: We will need to keep track of which is the VDD and GND wire, a tip to avoid confusing them and later solder them in the wrong spots is to make the wire (L-) shorter than the current (L+) wire for future reference

Step 6: Solder the LED Strips With the Diode Strings!

What You Need:

  • Soldering Station
  • Solder
  • LED Strips
  • Diode Strings
  • Electrical Tape
  • Jumper Cables

Now that we have both our LED strips and diode strings ready we are going to solder them together so we can control them both at the same time

  • From one end of the LED strip, we are going to solder 3 jumper cables to their respective via (One for each pad). The jumper cables should have a length of approximately 5-6 inches
  • On the other end, we are going to solder the diode string. To connect the diodes we are going to take the current wire (L+) and solder it to the +5V pad in the LED strip. The ground wire (L-) will be connected to the 'Y' pad
  • After you have completed soldering both ends of the LED strip use the electrical tape to wrap the soldered connections. The electrical tape will help to make the wire connection more sturdy

Note: The color of the jumper cables can vary depending on the user. The colors used were chosen in order to recognize them easier later on (Red for +5V, Y for yellow LEDs, and W for white LEDs)

Caution: The soldering station reaches really high temperatures when turned on, so make sure not to touch the tip with your hands or press it against your body to avoid burning

Step 7: Solder All the Components to the Board!

What You Need:

  • Proto Shield Board
  • Jumper Cables
  • Solder
  • Soldering Station
  • LED Strings
  • Photo Resistor
  • 10k Resistor
  • Pliers

Once we have soldered the LED strips with the diode strings we are all set to solder all the components into the proto shield board!

  • Follow the schematic diagram as shown above to make the connections needed
  • Once all of the components have been soldered, use the pliers to cut the excess of wire on the back of the board

Note: If you need more details about the schematic and board connections to solder the components, refer to the Eagle project attached at the end of the step. The project includes the complete schematic and the board layout.

It is also worth mentioning that if you want to make any changes to the current design please feel free to do so. This shield has open I/O pin connections and it can be easily modified. However, I would only recommend attempting this to users who have experience with circuit design

Caution: The soldering station reaches really high temperatures when turned on, so make sure not to touch the tip with your hands or press it against your body to avoid burning

Step 8: Put the LED Strips Inside of the Clouds!

What You Need:

  • Cloud bases
  • Proto Shield and LED Strips
  • Glue Gun and Glue Fillings

Now that we have our clouds and circuit done, it’s time to start putting all the items together

  • Put the LED string inside of each cloud. The cotton from the clouds will hold them from falling
  • Once the LED string is inside the cloud, we are going to pull the diode string through the opening on the bottom of the cloud
  • Lastly, wrap the rest of the string around the bottom metal base. Each loop of the string should be hanging around 2-3 inches

At this point, your clouds should look like the first picture shown in the step

Step 9: Flash the Arduino With the Program

What You Need:

  • Arduino UNO Board
  • USB A/B Cable (Comes with the Arduino)
  • Laptop
  • Arduino IDE Software

Now that we have our setup ready to go, it’s time to flash the Arduino with the program that is going to drive the setup

  • Download and install the Arduino IDE software in your computer, if you haven't already, from the link provided in the tools
  • Download the 'ino' file attached at the endof the step and open it using the Arduino IDE
  • Plug the Uno board to your computer and flash it. You don't need to worry about a thing, all the setup and pin configuration is taken care of!

Step 10: Plug the Shield Into the Arduino and Place It Over Either One of Your Clouds

What You Need:

  • Proto Shield
  • Arduino Uno Board

Now that the Arduino is flashed...

  • Plug in the proto shield on the Arduino and place it over either one of your clouds. I'd recommend to place it over the top of the metal base of the clouds.

Step 11: Place the Hooks

What You Need:

  • Cup Hooks
  • Wooden Dowel
  • Fishing Line or String

The hooks will serve as the base to hang the clouds from

  • Place the cup hooks in the ceiling at a distance that matches that of the dowel
  • Make a knot with a separate string on each hook end and tie it to the wooden dowel.

Step 12: Hang the Clouds!

What You Need:

  • Clouds
  • Finishing Line or String
  • Wooden Dowel

Now, this might be the most important step. We have to hang the clouds!

  • Make a knot at the hook of the top base of a cloud on one end, and tied it to the wooden dowel on the other. Repeat this step for each one of the clouds The spacing between the clouds is up to you!

Note: The length of the string should be roughly the same for all the clouds! For my project, the string was around 10-12 inches.

Step 13: Plug It in and Enjoy It!

You've made it to the end!

All you have to do now is to power your Arduino board and show it to your kid! Now she/he will have a really cool lamp for under 40 bucks!