Kids RGB LED Star Nightlight




Introduction: Kids RGB LED Star Nightlight

About: I'm the Unexpected Maker! Join me on my journey as I make and possibly break all sorts of projects I am interested in, all from the comfort of your couch!

I love making projects for my kids and I also love making projects using RGB LEDs, so I came up with the idea of a light detecting RGB Star shaped Nightlight for my kids rooms.
The nightlight can detect if it is in darkness and turn on the RGB LEDs to 50% brightness, and then dim them back to 10% brightness over an hour.

If the nightlight detects it is in light, it will turn off the LEDs which of course, also saves battery life.

The star is 3D printed and uses a TinyDev Tiny85 board to control the LEDs, because it has super low power consumption and is only 26mm x 9mm in size, the same width as an RGB strip, but you can of course substitute the TinyDev with any Arduino compatible micro controller.

The nightlight runs off 2x AA batteries.

Step 1: Step 1 - 3D Print the Star

Grab the STL of the star and print it out on your printer.

You can also design your own shape, just make sure to make a channel for the strip of RGB LEDs to sit in.

Step 2: Step 2 - Gather All of the Electronics and a Micro-controller

Once you have your TinyDev or other micro-controller, work out which digital GPIO you are going to use for the RGB Strip output and which analog GPIO you will use for the LDR input and adjust the code to use the correct pins.

Now is a good time to upload the code to the micro-controller so you don't have to pull the project apart later to do it.

Step 3: Step 3 - Solder the RGB Strip to the Micro-controller

You now want to solder the VCC, DATA and GND pads on the RGB strip to some wires or header and then solder/connect those to your micro-controlller.

Ideally, if your micro-controller has a 5V pin, connect the VCC of the RGB strip to that, otherwise 3.3V is fine.

Connect the GND on the RGB strip to a GND pin on the micro-controller, and lastly connect the DATA to the digital GPIO you selected earlier.

Step 4: Step 4 - Connect the LDR and the 220 Ohm Resistor

Solder one leg of the LDR to one leg of the resistor and then cover with some heat shrink to both shield and strengthen the connection.

Now solder/connect the other leg of the LDR to the analog GPIO you selected earlier and solder/connect the other leg of the resistor to a GND pin on the micro-controller.

Step 5: Step 5 - Choose Your Power Source

Lastly, decide how you are going to power your nightlight. I used 2x AA batteries in a battery holder, and soldered the wires to the VCC IN and GND IN of the TinyDev.

Depending on your micro-controller, you ay choose to use a Lipo rechargeable battery, a USB cable (be careful how much current you pull from it) or a 2.1mm jack with a 5V power pack.

Note: If you are using your own micro-controller, it's good practice to put a 300-500 ohm resistor between the GPIO and Data line of the RGB strip, and to put a 10uF capacitor across the VCC and GNC connections to the RGB Strip.

Step 6: Step 6 - Insert the RGB Strip Into the Star

Carefully insert the RGB strip, bending it around the star shape until all of the strip is in the correct place. be careful when bending the strip around the sharper edges to ensure you don't crack or break the strip.

Step 7: Step 7 - Hang It on the Wall

I added velcro tape to my battery pack to stick it to the wall, so it can be removed easily to change the batteries, but feel free to use any mounting mechanism you like.

Step 8: Extra Step - Change Up the Colours or Animations

Feel free to code whichever colours or animations for the nightlight... set specific colours that you like most, or have the LEDs pulse instead or move.. it's totally up to you!

Step 9: All of the Files...

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    3 years ago

    Mr. Unexpected -- Please see my remix attached. Your star wouldn't fit on my print bed, so I downsized it and added and acrylic star. Also, instead of the LDR I used a simple SPST. Thank you for the example and encouragement!


    4 years ago

    I`m trying to fit a spectacular dash to this project, not too complicated as I`m an amateur with electrics.


    Question 4 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, I found you by accident I am brand new to pcbs and circuitry, but I find it fascinating and hopefully not to difficult for my 70 year old brain. I was wanting to do some light flashing stuff for a santa sledge I built for the kids, mostly dashboard stuff, where do you buy the tinydev,s

    Thanks John Page.

    Unexpected Maker
    Unexpected Maker

    Answer 4 years ago

    Hi John - wow, I think it's fantastic you are building a flashy RGB sledge - flashy lights everywhere I say! The TinyDev is a board I designed and sell on tindie:

    But you can use any small micro-controller board that is Arduino compatible for your projects and use the NeoPixel or FastLED libraries to control strips of RGB LEDS.

    A maker at 70 years young! Awesome!

    Good luck with your project!



    4 years ago

    The result looks very nice!

    The problem with many projects these days is the 'excessive' use of 3D printers. Without it, many nice projects can not be done.

    Unexpected Maker
    Unexpected Maker

    Reply 4 years ago

    I use both a 3D printer and Laser Cutter in my projects... I try to make sure my projects can use either as 3D printers are way more prevalent then Laser cutters, but yes It's har to build some projects without some form of fabrication system.

    You could build a star out of core-flute and glue the sides on underneath to get a similar effect, but it will likely diffuse the LEDS too much.




    4 years ago

    If thats your original idea its bloody brilliant !