Introduction: Wheel of Cheese Moon Phase Lamp

The Moon is made of cheese.

Not really, it just looks that way. But if it were, it may be of a giant wheel of Swiss Cheese.

Make a light up moon lamp in the shape of a wheel of your favorite kind of cheese.

LED lights shine through the paper mache moon.

Step 1: Moon Base...

Wheels of cheese come in different sizes but think about how big you want your lamp to be. A typical round wheel of cheese is about 14 inches in diameter and 5 inches high, convert to metric for imported cheeses.

It just so happened I had a corrugated cardboard box to recycle. I just cut the box flaps off and glued them together in strips to form the foundation support frame for the paper mache.

The actual width of the strips is about 6 inches but good enough for what we are making, no need to trim to exact sizes.

Form a ring that is the "rind" of the cheese wheel. I used carpenter glue here which is just a tad tackier than white glue and has better holding strength because this is cardboard we are gluing together.

Use of a "pliers-type" hand stapler will help a lot in tacking your cardboard pieces in place until the glue dries. Although not really a "heavy-duty" stapler, it will squeeze the multiple layers down to put a regular staple in and hold. And you can operate it with one hand while the other holds everything in position.

Section off the circle with a center divider and two more dividers to define the crescents of the quarter-moon phases. These additional pieces will stiffen up the structure and will help keep the outer ring round. I also added in that strip which spans all the divider strips to keep the sections separated.

Step 2: Terra Forming...

Next is paper mache for the face of the moon or this cheese wheel.

This is where the lights from the LEDs will shine through so use plain white paper towels as the material for the layering.

If you want a more bulbous moon shape, you can pad the divider strips with some balled up clear plastic wrap.

Instead of using newspapers or recycled papers (old class notes, shopping lists, etc.), using paper towels will give a nice clean translucent shell when dry. It also imparts a nice texture and random watermark effect that we want to simulate the rough surface of the moon. Tear off around the factory cut straight edges or perforations so you don't end up with an odd straight line or shadow when the lamp is lit.

I actually just applied glue directly to a piece of paper towel and attached it to the cardboard frame. I built it up from there. After the surface was formed, I laid down lines of glue all over and sprinkled on water to spread the glue. The glue would soak into the rest of the paper towels. You could also have a bowl of diluted glue to soak the strips first and then apply.

Take scraps of the paper towel or use a tissue/toilet paper saturated with glue to form and add the round craters on the surface.

I think I somehow ended up with a Picasso-ish man-in-the-moon face.

Let dry completely.

Step 3: It's Lit...

Things that light up the nighttime sky are cool.

How about meteors too?

There are so many microcontrollers out there to make LEDs or a neopixel strip light up. And programming is just as easy to get the effect you want.

I used my Adafruit Circuit Playground Express board and CircuitPython to program the lights. It's simply a matter of fading the yellow color of the lights for each segment or turning the moon a shade of red or blue.

The single 60 LED neopixel strip is just draped inside and attached to the cardboard. The empty space will help diffuse the light and the cardboard divider strips will separate the segments we light up.

So, the outer rind needs to be painted in a nice cheesy color and maybe some label graphics added to complete the wheel of cheese.

And with a microcontroller, you can add on functions to have the color controlled remotely or sync it up to some internet of things functionality for real-time moon phase changes or use it as an alert indicator. Mood lamp or mod light...whatever you want. Get started with this tutorial

Cracking cheese, Gromit!


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