Introduction: Island City - Starry Night

This is a project I started more than 6 month ago (not much spare time in my house ;-) ). We needed something for the bedroom, which would light up automatically, and not too bright, enough to find your way into bed, and not wake the other one up, which is most of the times my wife ;-)

Have seen online a lot of solutions for a starry night ceiling and paintings. Gathered all those ideas, took the best ones and put them into this one.

As soon as I discovered the potential of blacklight painting doing this painting, I knew I will probably never do a painting without it. Have a lot to learn on how to mix colors to get the nicest effects, and it really looks good in the dark (way better than all pictures I shoot with my camera).

From all the solutions for the stars I chose the fully programable rgb leds, since I wanted to be able to program some of the starts to go bright randonmly from time to time.

Step 1: Prepare the Base

The base and frame I made out of wood, screws and a hdf board. I knew I will opt for some kind of led strings and not the usual strips, so I needed some space behind the painting.

In the attached images you can find my construction design. I made it about 120 x 80 cm. But this depends only on how big you want your painting.

Also I tested before if i can paint on the hdf board with my acrylic paints.

Step 2: Painting or Poster

In this step you have two options:

The first option: you paint your own painting. I decided to paint my own, since I need to improve my skills a lot. Besides that I'm pretty picky, and this way I get what I like ;-) I'm not going into how to paint it, since I am still learning myself and don't have the best tipps for you here.

Or the second option you take a poster and glue it on the base. How about "Starry Night" from Van Gogh? That should look cool in the end. You can still do all the following steps, and get a great result.

Step 3: UV (blacklight) Layer

In my last blacklight painting I explained in detail how I have done it. Basically I have done the same thing.

Using blacklight paints I covered the finished painting in the areas which would normally be lighted up by the moon behind the big tree. In daylight you can hardly see the blacklight painting although I didn't use the invisible blacklight paint described in my other post.

One thing I discovered new by chance and used it right away: Before starting I wanted to paint also a city of some sort, with houses, and the windows which I would cut out of the wood, and light them up with leds also. But then I got lazy I guess and didn't want all that work ;-) Then when painting with blacklight I saw that a little thick point of blacklight paint would glow a lot. That was my solution for all the windows and doors in the city (village). I like it how it turned out...

Step 4: Adding Stars

OK, this part was by far the most hurtfull thing of the entire process: putting holes in my painting :-)

For the stars I decided to go for theese led strings. I could not find any fully adressable WS2812b controlled leds smaller than that. If someone knows some, I am veeeeery interested.

Now for those leds, 12 mm holes were needed in my painting ... 25 of them ... I said no way. I settled for 8 mm holes and glued only the tip of the leds in the holes, like in the image above. I was lucky I opted for that big wooden frame, because the leds take now a lot of space behind the painting.

Step 5: Electronics

Now for the special effects ;-)

I used the following components:

  • an Arduino Nano for controlling the whole "magic" (code is attached)
  • 12V power source
  • blacklight led strip, 12V
  • 7805 voltage regulator to create 5V for the arduino
  • WS2812B, fully adressable RGB led string, 25 leds, 5V
  • TIP122 transistor to control the blacklight leds from the arduino
  • motion sensor
  • light sensor
  • 3x switches

Attached you find also the electronic schematics. It works like this: when the room is dark (light sensor), and it detects someone approaching (motion sensor), then the blacklights leds go on, the stars go on (RGB leds) and 10 of them shine randomly, and after that everything goes dark again. The switches can be used to: disable the RGB leds, disable the light sensor or disable the motion sensor.

Step 6: Finale

Here you can see the result. Hope you enjoyed it.

Look forward on your comments and suggestions on improvements...

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