Introduction: Sparkle Night Sky (mixed Media: Paint+electronics+program)

This painting mimics what you might see in a bright night sky: mostly static lights, with an occasional shooting star. The lights are programmed with a fading pattern (always (repeat 4 (wait 90)) (right 2)) so the shooting star appears once every few minutes.

It's a wonderful effect - nobody expects to see this painting suddenly light up. This is the aesthetic we want to explore with ambient computing: incorporate electronics that add a little something, without removing focus from the actual object (in this case the painting).

Ideally, this project should be connected a 3V power adapter, since it's intended to stay on all the time. For now, though, we use the coin-cell battery that comes in the Sparkle kit. In fact, the wall behind the painting has been prepped with conductive paint, so in the coming months, we'll start connecting all our ambient computing projects unto this wall. Stay tuned!

- one mini-canvas
- drafting and painting supplies
- one Sparkle kit (we make this)

Step 1: Layout and Attaching Components

First, draw an outline of your project.
Keep in mind the frame is pretty thick, so you won't have the entire canvas for Sparkle components.

Next, follow the steps on the Sparkle tutorial to see how you'd connect all the electronic pieces.

Step 2: Adding Paint and Program

You can paint over all the LED boards and Sparkle board, leaving just the actual LED lights exposed. The tiny red-light and touch strip on Sparkle are not painted over, so you can reprogram it later.

The conductivity of the thread doesn't seem to have been affected by the paint, but if you're worried, you can put a bit of masking tape on the connections before painting over them.

And that's all it takes. Now point your painting at the Programming page to change how you want it to behave. What's really cool about our approach to ambient computing is that you can program your devices directly from your computer or smartphone web browser. It literarily flashes the instructions to your project using visible light.