Introduction: Lightning LED RGB Cloud With Mechanical Switch

Checkout the video of the lamp/cloud in action at the last step!

This instructable is for people who wants to make a bit more advanced version of the typical lightning LED cloud. This one is made with a mechanical switch instead of the versions with a normal IR remote. I find that remotes are often misplaced or for this project unnecessary. I made this as a birthday present for my niece which it is made without sound. I wanted to spare the parents.

It has 4 modes: (you can easily add more if you know how to code)

1 - Color changer

2 - Luminosity

3 - Lightning

4 - Partymode

Step 1: What You Will Need:

Materials used:

1 * Arduino Uno or Mini pro or the equivalent. (I used mini pro. If you use uno you will need a bigger pcb)

1 * female headers: F-Headers (if you want to be able to seperate yout arduino)

1 * male headers: M-Headers (only for soldering to an Arduino mini pro. Not needed if you acquire the version of arduino in the link)

1 * potentiometer: 5k or 10k are both fine: Potentiometer

1 * button control. Whatever version you choose is fine: Push button

1 * Switch. I found mine in at a recycling center. It has to be big enough to hold both the potentiometer and a button switch! Otherwise you will need to be creative :)

1 * PCB (at least 5 * 7 cm). I used this version: Pcbs (but you might be better of with this version: Pcbs no layout)

1 * LED strip. I used this one: 5m LED strip (make sure your LED strip is wired with RGB all going to minus, like the picture). Furthermore, the version I have chosen is water resistant because I want to use the rest of it for other projects and to be sure it won't get hot enough to light the cotton on fire or liquidize the hot glue.

1 * Bag of cotton. Buy it at your local store

5 * BC327 PNP transistor, for control the plus side of 5 indiviual small strips of LEDs: BC327

3 * IRLZ44N N-Mosfet. These are used to control the RGB. The cheapest option is to buy at least 5: IRLZ44N

6 * BC547 NPN transistors, to control the N channel Mosfets from the arduino. The lowest amount, for the cheapest price was to buy 30 pcs: BC547

1 * F5305S.P-Mosfet. Used to control the plus side of 1 big LED strip. IRF5305S

Some sort of casing. A box of polystyrene should be allright. I used two 2 l bottles that I cut in half. But you can use just about anything to wrap the LEDs around! I just needs a little room inside for the hardware.

1 * 5 m wire to hang the lamp. I just bought a white one from the local store.


Soldering station and solder.

Gluegun with a lot of glue! Buy it at your local store.

Wires. I mostly use good old IDE/SCSI computer cables.

Cutting knife.

Step 2: Step 1/4: Hardware Setup, Pcb.

Follow the schematics. Do some soldering and then some more soldering!

You might need to put 1 or 2 wires on top of the pcb to get it all to fit.

Step 3: Step 2/4: Hardware Setup, Switch.

The switch has a separate wire (4 small wires) going in to the cloud to connect to the main PCB and the arduino.

This is the only part I didn't buy. I found the switch at a local recycling center. I drilled a small pcb to fit inside and drilled a hole in the switch for the potentiometer to go through. I took a lot of plastic out of the switch for the pcb and the potentiometer to fit inside. Finally I glued the small orange piece of PCB to the switch to keep it level when someone would press the button.

Step 4: Step 3/4: Hardware Setup, the Box!

I used two plastic bottles to fit together like the picture because I thought it would make the perfect shape for a cloud. But you can use anything as long as it can fit the pcb inside.

The cloud has 5 separate small strips of LEDs to create the lightning effect and 1 big.

1. Cut out all the LED strips needed. (1 big, 5 small)

2. Solder all of them with the wires needed one by one and test that they work separately and in tandem.

2.1 Connect the plus side of an LED strip and check that every color lights up by connecting each RGB to a minus separately. Do this for every LED strip.

2.2 If connections are failing re-solder or cut a new piece of LED strip and try again.

3. Glue all the LED strips to your casing still making it possible to get inside (to connect the pcb to the LEDs or to make it easier to find mistakes). Use the normal glue underneath the LED strips and a glue gun.

4. Connect the main wire to the box/bottles/casing. Tie a knot on the end to keep the wire inside your box without pulling on the PCB and hurting the electronics.

DO NOT DO WHAT I DID IN THE PICTURES! and glue the cotton to the LED strips before you have tested the connections.

Step 5: Step 4/4:

Upload the code to your Arduino and test!

If the test is succesful, you can finally glue the cotton on and enjoy.

Step 6: Extra Info:

The code:

It might look a bit big because,

Firstly I use millis instead of delay to control the breaks between lightnings. This is because once in a while you would push the button and the arduino wouldn't react if we were using delays.

Secondly, the colorfading in the code is a bit different than what you will find in other examples on the net. Most code out there, that I could find, only combines two colors and the possible color combinations are just under 255^3 = 16.581.375. Hence, I wanted to get as many combinations in the code as possible.

In the beginning you start with white and then it will crossfades to different combinations. In the end I have put a lot of preset colors.

The switch: (4 programs to choose from using the button)

  1. Colors. Potpin changes the color.
  2. Luminosity. Potpin changes the brightness of the light, which will effect the next program.
  3. Lightnings. The amount of different lightnings can be changed in the code. Potpin chooses between 3 timing intervals: slow, normal, fast. The program will allways start in normal.
  4. Party: For awesome grown ups or of course children! Potpin chooses between 3 timings. Same as above.

For the worrying parent. Since this project was for my niece I checked the heat development or possible flammability by hanging the cloud over a bucket of water for 24 hours (as in the picture). It doesn't get anywhere hot enough.

Please vote for me, or whoever you feel deserves to win the contest I submitted this in :)

Lamps and Lighting Contest 2016

Participated in the
Lamps and Lighting Contest 2016

Halloween Decor Contest 2016

Participated in the
Halloween Decor Contest 2016

LED Contest

Participated in the
LED Contest