Introduction: LED Walking Cane

About: ... using laser cutter, PCBs, 3D-Printer and whatever i get into my hands to build things

To walk in style everybody needs a LED enlighted walking cane :-)

For this i used every cool tool i found at the fablab aachen. The main housing consists of a 2mm diameter acrylic tube, within this tube a row of WS2812b LEDs are hold in place with laser cutted 2mm acrylic. Both handle and tip are 3D printed, mostly with a dremel idea builder (one capitell is printed with the dimension elite because of overhangs). Battery holder and a small pcb for the electronic are made with a pcb mill - but this is not really necessary and can be done by hand.

Step 1: Lasercutting

The acrylic holder for the LEDS consists of two sheets of 2mm acrylic, where each 20mm a 5*4.6mm hole for a LED is inserted: For the LED itself and a 5*5mm, 3mm thick piece of diffuse acrylic on top of the LED (svg-file).

The WS2812b are inserted such that the edge with the small triangle (indicating ground) points allways in the same direction. All these ground pins are then straight connected with a bare wire, and the same is done with the diagonal opposite VCC pins. The data out pin next to the vcc pin of a LED is connected with the data in of the following LED by wrapping a bare wire halfways around the acrylic as seen in the picture above.

For the orientation you should keep in mind that the microcontroller will be in the tip of the cane.

Step 2: 3D Printing

All these files are printed with a Dremel idea builder out of white pla. If you use 1.5V AA batteries you will need two of these AA-Dummys (with copper or aluminium foil as conductor wrapped around), for 1.2V AA rechargable batteries you can use four in a row and don't need this parts. 4 of the Handgriff-Columns are used, the rest of the parts are singular ones.

The only missing part is the nice capitell at the bottom of the handle, i didn't find where i downloaded it and therefore i'm not sure about the lisence. Just find a nice 3D model of a capitel, insert a 20mm hole and print it with your favorite printer.

The handle uses otherwise the Tom Burtonwood's pillar scan for capitels.

After printing, the columns are glued with epoxy in the holes at the top globe.

Step 3: Battery Holder

The battery holder consists of four pcb (2* both pcbs in the eagle files) which are milled with a pcb mill, but can also easily made with a milling tool out of a bare pcb. Each side has place for 3 AA battery holder, the middle one with removed contact plate. On the topside 4 WS2812B on small breakout boards are soldered together for illuminating the globe. The longer end will stick inside the acrylic tube for stability.

For soldering: Each pcb is soldered in a 90° angle on the previous one in a repititive pattern. As a result you will get two contacts to the batteries on each end, one serving as VCC, the other as ground connection, using two battery lines in parallel.

The PCB are covered with white tape before soldering for a better look.

Both at the battery block and at the LEDs wires are soldered on for connection with the the acrylic tube's LED row. The energy connection of the LEDs is directly connected with the battery pack, leaving just three connections (data input, VCC, GND) to be done in the future.

The pcb block is then inserted into the square hole of the handle's globe.

Step 4: Battery and Connection

After inserting the Battery block the handle can be completed with adding the Bottom and fixating it with four screws. The Acrylic tube with its LEDs is then connected with the wires and (after checking if everyting works) is fixated with epoxy. An additional capitel is glued above the connection for better look.

Two batteries (or a battery and a dummy) are covered with a white sheet of paper, which is glued together amd covered itself with transparent protective tape.

Small notes on the pcb indicate the direction for the batteries.

Step 5: Controller and Tip

Inside a small box within the tip an attiny is used at the moment as controller for the LEDs. Nothing fancy, just the basic Adafruit example for the Neopixel library enlights the LEDs. A button with an additional small tip on top can be used in future for enlighten the cane each time the stick will hit the ground.

The attiny is then connected with the three electrical lines of the acrylic tube, and the 3D printed housing covers it. To work further on the electronic, this housing is not glued but works with press fitting.

Step 6: Future Work

The space inside the tip is big enough to house both a micro controller (bare atmega 328), a bluetooth module (HC-06) and for example a gyroscope (GY-521) which can be used in the future for better effects.

Step 7: Enjoy!

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