Introduction: Multi-Color LED Lamp Utilizing an 8 Channel LED Controller V.3

About: Designing electronic creations from microcontrollers, LEDs and anything else I can pull out of a dumpster and make use of. Check my Profile
I wanted to experiment with using different color LEDs, other than the standard RGB, to create multi-color effects in a functional lamp.

This lamp uses Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Purple, Aqua-Green, and Blue 5mm LEDs along with an upper and lower White 12v LED strip. Each of the colors and upper/lower LED strips are all individually controllable with 8-bit PWM. Using a 8 Channel LED controller v.3 with the MonoMotion Software, patterns are easily created and uploaded to utilize this custom configuration. A few patterns were made that cycles the various LED colors, or utilizes the white LED strips for functional light. More details on Step 5.

Created from an 8 Channel LED controller v.3, a broken solar garden light, a white plastic cup, a disc of MDF, and a plastic base from an old toy.

Step 1: Parts and Tools:

Electronic Parts:
  • 8 Channel LED Controller v.3 with MonoMotion Compatible Firmware(standard with the kit)
  • White LED Strip, 3528 style
  • 6 pcs each of 6 Colors of 5mm diffused LEDs, I chose: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Purple, Aqua-Green, Blue, The Store
  • Resistors 1 for each of the colors(mounted on the 8 Channel LED Controller PCB)
  • USB to Serial Adapter with 3-pin header connection wire

Lamp Parts:
  • Old Solar garden light with diffuser, found in garbage.
  • semi translucent white plastic cup, semi translucent HDPE purchased surplus
  • 3/4" PVC Pipe
  • 6" diameter x 0.5" thick partical board base
  • Plastic cylinder base, from an old toy
  • Electronics tools
  • Hack saw
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Drill, and bits various sizes

Step 2: Prepare the Lamp Parts

Prepare Garden Light:
  • Took apart the garden light
  • Figured out how the 5mm LEDs and LED strip would be mounted.
  • Cleaned all the surfaces with acetone
  • Painted all visible surfaces with Krylon Fusion White Satin
  • When that dried painted them silver.
  • On the top part, where the 5mm LEDs would be mounted, covered the surface with aluminum tape to reflect the light.
  • Laid out the LED pattern on a computer staggering the LEDs, printed it, taped it onto the top part, and drilled 36x 5mm holes for the LEDs.
  • Cleaned up the holes and aluminum tape with a razor blade.
  • Removed the outside diffuser, roughed it up with sand paper and painted it with window frosting spray paint.
Figure Out The Rest of the Lamp: For my lamp the solar light is supported by 3/4" PVC pipe, that is secured into a hole drilled in the base board of MDF. The plastic cup and plastic base were cut to fit together, and the length of the PVC pipe was measured to size.
  • Cut the bottom of the cup off with a saw and drilled a hole in the plastic base using a 2 1/8" Forstner bit.
  • The PVC was cut to length, and wrapped in aluminum tape.
  • The MDF base board was cut 6" diameter, and in the center a hole was drilled so the 3/4" PVC fit snuggly.
  • The MDF base was then primed and spray painted gloss black.
  • The plastic cup and plastic base were hot glued together, not that strong but there shouldn't be much stress on the joint. As everything is supported by the PVC pipe.

Step 3: Electronics and 5mm LEDs

Electronics Prep:
  • Assemble an 8 Channel LED Controller Kit v.3, without wiring the button or power yet
  • The Output resistors(R1 - R8) are chosen based on color, current and relative brightness vs other colors. Use this calculator to calculate, For this device each channel has 2 strings of 3 series LEDs in parallel, so 40mA per channel at full brightness, but some colors will need adjustments to make the light even.
  • Find a suitable power supply and optional DC Jack, The Store
For Output Resistors (R1 - R8) I used these values, but are in no way optimal:
Blue = 100 ohm, Aqua-Green = 200 ohm, Magenta = 250 ohm, Cyan = 500 ohm, Yellow = 250ohm, Purple = 200 ohm, The output resistors for the white LED strip are jumped using solid strand wire.

Breakout Board: This lamp runs on 12 volt to power the LED strip and 5mm LEDs, but the controller runs on 5 volts. Along with the outputs can only sink 100mA and the light strip will use more current than that. So a breakout board with a 7805 and transistors needs to be made.
  • Made it real simple on some perforated board with some terminals. See schematic for details.
  • The power input and channel outputs have terminals, while the +5v coming out of the 7805 was directly soldered to the PWR input on the controller PCB.

5mm LEDs: The top part was painted and drilled with 5mm holes already. 3 LEDs are in series and 2 series strings are in parallel per output channel in common anode configuration. All anodes connect to +12v and the end cathode goes to a terminal on the PCB.
  • Map out what holes go to what color.
  • Start inserting the 5mm LEDs and securing with some hot glue.
  • Bend the leads with a needle nose and connect them with the leads if they make it or add some solid strand jumper wire.
  • +12v -> Anode-Cathode -> Anode-Cathode -> Anode-Cathode -> Terminal
It would be wise to connect all the LEDs, check it for issues such as shorts or wrong connections and power up the controller to test them, remember the controller runs on +5v and the LED strings run on +12v.

Step 4: Finish It Up

LED Strips:
This particular garden light and an internal diffuser that hung down. I wrapped an old solder tube, approx 0.5" in diameter with some aluminum tape then wrapped it spiraling down with some white LED strip, about 8 sections. The internal diffuser had holes drilled in it's bottom and at the top to run wires down to the base without casting shadows or getting in the way of the LED light.

For the lower LED strip, once the overall height and size of the lamp was figured, the PVC pipe was cut to fit,(step 2) wedged in to the bottom of the solar light(had to wrap the top in some tape). The LED strip was then wrapped around the PVC pipe(already wrapped in aluminum tape) in a spiral. Near the bottom of the pipe a large hole was drilled to feed the wires down from the controller which is at the top.

Final Wiring:
  • From the top where the controller sits a length of 3-strand twisted wire and a 2-strand ribbon cable was fed down, through the internal holes then into the PVC pipe and out the hole drilled near the bottom.
  • Two of the 3-strand twisted wire is used to bring +12v from the bottom case to the top where the controller sits. Pick two colors and wired them to the DC Jack.
  • An extra wire was connected to +12v to the V+ connection on the lower LED strip
  • The 3rd strand of the 3-strand wire is connected V- on the lower LED strip
  • Finally the 2-strand ribbon cable is soldered to the Button points on the PCB and to a normally open momentary push button. The 8 channel kit comes with one, but I chose a different style for this project.
  • Drilled 4 holes for the push button and soldered the ribbon cable to it through the holes, then secured the button with some hot glue.
  • At the top the 2 power strands of the 3-strand wire were connected to the correct locations on the breakout board.
  • The 3rd strand(connected to the lower LED strips V-) is connected to the breakout board output for that channel.
  • Then for the upper LED strip, the V+ is connected in parallel to the +12v input on the breakout board and the V- is connected to the breakout board output for that channel.
Test It: Everything should be ready to fully test before closing up the case.
  • Look over everything CAREFULLY, check for solder bridges loose or frayed wires, shorts or wrong connections
  • Once everything is checked, go ahead and plug in the power supply. It should light up and run the default patterns the controller comes loaded with.
Close It Up:
  • Optional: Connect 3-pin jumper wire to the TX-RX-GND Header on the PCB, position it so it can hang out or otherwise be accessed from the outside of the case in the future.
  • Assemble all the pieces in order, cup and base over the PVC pipe, drill a hole and secure the DC jack to the lower case, then slide the painted MDF base onto the PVC pipe.
  • Put the garden light back together.
  • Optional: Connect the 3-pin jumper to a USB to Serial adapter and start the software.

Step 5: Create the Patterns

The 8 Channel LED Controller v.3 is compatible with the MonoMotion Software, used for creating patterns and settings for compatible LED controllers.  Patterns and settings are created on a computer(Windows, Linux, Mac) and uploaded to the controller for it to run by itself, without a computer. Perfect for Infinity Mirrors, Art Pieces, Lamps, and most any thing that requires dynamic stand-alone control. Compatible controllers can also be controlled over a USB using a simple serial based interface.

For this lamp I wanted 4 settings: Full On(all channels full brightness), Color Cycling(just the top cycles), Ambient(bottom white strip on 15% or so, top is color cycling, and All Off. The push button is used to select the setting.

The save file I used can be downloaded below, read the README.TXT for details on usage.

Step 6: Finish and Final Thoughts

While the various colored LEDs do add some interesting effects to the look of the color cycling, overall it may not have been worth the extra effort vs using RGB LEDs. But the way the color moves and mixes within the diffuser is unique and with the added functionality of the white LED strip, really makes the lamp useful.

More controllers compatible with the MonoMotion Software and a major upgrade coming to the ColorMotion Software will be available in the future.

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