Introduction: LED and Fiber Optic Star Constellation

Create a star constellation project that can be customized to your preferences. This is a great way to explore the use of fiber optic cable strands in a creating mini work of art! This project is easy for kids and adults and takes less than an hour to complete.

To make the project, you will need to gather the following materials:

  • Black Foam Board
  • Masking Tape
  • 2032 Coin Cell Battery
  • Zip Tie
  • White Pencil
  • Blue 10mm LED (often referred to as a "gumball LED")
  • Push Pins
  • Ruler
  • Fiber Optic Cable (can purchase online)
  • Constellation diagram printed out or traced
  • Tools needed are: Scissors, X-Acto knife (optional), pencil

Let's get started!

Step 1: Cut the Foam Board

Measure and cut out a piece of the black foam board 6 "x 8" inches in size.

Step 2: Trace Constellation Onto Foam Board

Next, you will trace an image of a star constellation onto the foam board. For this step, first either print out a star constellation diagram or trace it onto paper. Place the image on top of the foam board and center as desired. I traced the image of the zodiac constellation Leo as it is a fairly simple layout.

Using push pins, poke a single hole where the constellation "lines" intersect. As shown in the photos, I made circles where the "lines" intersected and the push pins were to be placed.

TIP: Place a towel or other soft material beneath the foam board when pushing the pins through. This enables the tip of the push pin to go all the way through the foam board. The result is a clearly visible hole on "back side" of the foam board (which will be important later on).

Step 3: Connect the Dots!

Next, take a white pencil and ruler to "connect the dots" to create an outline of the star constellation.

TIP: Keep your constellation image handy so you connect the correct "dots" (push pin holes) as you go along.

Step 4: Fiber Optic Cable

For this step, take the fiber optic cable bundle and separate out the number of strands needed for the star constellation project. This is determined by the number of holes made with the push pins. For the Leo constellation, 9 strands of fiber optic cable are needed since I made 9 push pin holes.

Measure out 8 inches of fiber optic cable and zip tie the required number of strands together tightly. Now, cut with scissors this section of fiber optic strands. Make sure you keep the zip tie around the fiber optic strands as you need to keep them bundled together for your next step.

The zip tie should be on one end of the fiber optic strands. On that side, cut a little off of the ends so that the fiber optic strand ends are even with one another. This will be the end that is placed at the top of the LED.

Step 5: Insert the Fiber Optic Cables & LED

Flip the star constellation board to the back side. You will be able to see the holes that were made earlier with the push pins. Arrange the fiber optic strands so that one strand goes into each pin hole (from the back). When pushing the fiber optic strands through to the front, they should be visible on the front side but not protruding beyond the "rim" of the hole.

Next, tape the zip tied end of the fiber optic strands to the back of the foam board. Take the 2032 coin cell and tape it to the LED so that the LED lights up. Lastly, tape the LED/coin cell to the back of the board. The top of the LED must directly touch each of the fiber optic strand ends. For this project, I used a blue LED for the star constellation as it shows up nicely in the dark.

Note: All of the fiber optic strands must be evenly aligned to the top of the LED so that the light will shine through and be visible on the other end. If the fiber optic strand does not light up, no worries! Just adjust the position of the LED so that it touches the end of the strand.

TIP: Fiber optic cable is fragile and will break if it is bent at a sharp angle. Be gentle and take your time when placing them in the push pin holes.

Step 6: Starry Nights!

Flip over the foam board and turn off the lights to enjoy your mini star constellation project!

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