Introduction: Neopixel Moon and Meteor Lamps
Objects in outer space have always been fascinating. How about making your own models and bringing them in closer to study?
Create your own light up sun, planets, moons, meteors. comets, asteroids, and whatever else with paper mache. Light them up with Neopixel LEDs for a spectacular glowing effect.
Step 1: Unidentified Flying Object...
Paper mache or papier mache with your pinky up, is just creating a sculpture with layers of paper glued together.
The process really lends itself to making whatever your imagination desires. You need a rough form that will act as the support structure until the glue dries and your paper mache becomes a hard shell.
I used a round bowl as the form for my half sphere. It had a lip on the bottom which I should have taped over to smooth out the shape. It created a watermark impression which I saw only after everything was dried. I covered with plastic wrap just to make it easier to remove the paper mache from the form later on.
I wanted to make something that would be light filtering and would be good for diffusing the harsh LED lights. Paper mache with regular paper might turn out too opaque so I used plain paper towels as my paper mache material. Paper towels seem to be a better choice than toilet paper since it disintegrates too fast into a pulpy mass when soaked with glue solution. You can layer a little faster with the paper towel sheets and test out their claim to sturdiness when wet. Paper towels also retain some texture which adds to the organic terra-formed look.
I mixed up a batch of regular white glue thinned with an equal amount of water. You know you are a maker when you start buying gallon size jugs of glue.
Tear the paper towels into smaller manageable pieces. The rough torn edges make the pieces blend together for a better look. You might also want to tear a bit off on the factory straight edges so they don't show up later distracting from the organic look.
After dunking into the glue solution, you want to squeeze out any excess glue and spread the piece out flat on the form. You should overlap the edge of one piece with another so that it all becomes a single strong piece when completed. You will get the feel for how many layers you need to apply.
I did two shells. One is with plain paper towels only. The second one is with a layer of some shredded paper between the paper towel layers. The shredder bin was nearby so I grabbed a handful of confetti shredded paper documents to sprinkle on. It seems to add to that "dirty meteor" look with the random dark specks from anything printed on the paper.
The wet sculpture can be further worked with your hands or tools to get it in the final shape. I used the blunt end of a marker pen to poke in crater shaped depressions.
Set aside for a day or two or more to completely dry. Inspect and glue down any edges that may have lifted or did not adhere well.
Step 2: Comet Trails...
I had my Arduino setup from my Neopixel Light Up Falling Meteor Scarf. It is an Adafruit Flora with several Neopixel strips attached. I guess that was the inspiration to really make light up falling meteors.
The light panels are placed under fanning out from the paper mache meteor. Fiberfill stuffing covers the tail.
The code was modified to add the bright flash at the end when the movement culminates in the fireball or glowing meteor.
Step 3: Pluto...?
That's no moon...
I had an Adafruit Circuit Playground board wired up to a small strip of Neopixels. It is running the demo Strandtest code to just cycle through colors and some basic animations.
You could partition off the lights inside so you get the segmented glow of different lunar phases.
So make something, put it up on a wall or ceiling and light up the night sky...