FIREFLY: an Animated "WALL ART" Design




I call my DESIGN project – ***FIREFLY***

I have included 4 sources of light:
* NEON BULB Oscillating Circuit (with 10 NE-2U Bright Neon Bulbs)
* RED LED Flashing LEDs (with 2 Red LED Displays)
*7W Blue and Green Colored AC Bulbs.
* Flashing RGB LEDs (with colorful programed integrated circuit)



IMAGE #1 above shows a panel of BLACK PLEXIGLAS as a background for bright lighting.

This 2' x 1' x 1/8” piece of Black Plexiglass provided the best material for the right perspective.

The 2 COMPUTER BOARDS shown are actual old Computer System Boards .

10 NEON NE-2U Bulbs are soldered in parallel to 1uf Capacitors and Super Glued
to the locations shown on the boards.

A simple Laminated Particle Board BOX (frame) was constructed to be the
foundation for the Firefly design.


IMAGE #2 above shows the DRILLING locations for all holes that are made through the
           PC BOARDS and the Black Plexiglas to allow wiring to pass through to the top of the
           Black Plexiglas as well as some wiring to reach the top of the PC Boards.
                                 ( Electric or Hand Drill with drill bits required )
                    I used a HAND DRILL to make holes through the PC Boards just to be safe.

The 3 inch Carriage Bolts are used to secure both PC Boards 2 inches above the Plexiglas panel.


Step 3: The BOX:

IMAGE #3 above shows the Construction of the "FIREFLY BOX" (Frame).

It is simply 4 pieces of Laminated Particle Board Hot-Glued to the perimeter of the Plexiglas Panel.

The Black Plexiglas Panel used is 2' x 1' x 1/8"
The required Laminated Particle Board to build a frame for this project was 6' x 1.75" x 1/4"
cut into 4 pieces.

Read the steps on Image #3 above for construction of the box.

Step 4: The PARTS:

IMAGE #4 above is the PARTS LIST for the Firefly project.

It shows parts for all 4LIGHT SOURCE circuits involved.

Some tools are also required for this project:

Soldering Iron
Wire cutters / stripper
HOT GLUE GUN and Glue Stick
Small Hand Saw (or have store cut wood for you)
Electric and/or Hand Drill with Drill Bits
Tape Measure



IMAGE #5 illustrates the 4 LIGHT SOURCE CIRCUITS.

  • The RED LED Circuit is controlled by one “FLASHING” RED LED (with integrated circuit) and a potentiometer which will allow flashes from between 2 seconds (slowest) to 1 second (fastest).
    All RED LED components are connected in SERIES using a 9VDC Adaptor as the Power Source.        

  • The RGB LED Circuit has 4 RGB LEDs (with integrated circuit) connected in parallel on each PC Board.
    It is controlled by a Voltage Regulator on each board providing exactly 3VDC per RGB LED.

  • The NEON OSCILLATOR CIRCUIT feeds 10 Neon NE-2U Bulbs (5 each) on the two PC Boards.
    The potentiometer setting will allow random flashes from between 8 seconds (slowest) to 1 second (fastest).

    The 4 colored 7 Watt lights between the Plexiglas Panel and the PC Boards are turned ON and OFF by an AC Toggle Switch on the right hand side of the Firefly BOX.

    A POWER BAR is positioned in the box for the 2 AC Adaptors and 2 AC Plugs.


Step 6: BACK - Wiring and Construction:

IMAGE #6 illustrates the Wiring and Construction on the BACK of the PLEXIGLASS which is “inside” of the box.

The OUTPUT of the NEON BULB Circuit consists of 10 lengths of twisted-pair red and white wire that pass through both the Plexiglas Panel as well as through the PC Boards where they are soldered to the Neon Bulb/ Capacitor parallel pairs mounted above on the PC Boards.

The Potentiometer in series with the circuit can be positioned to change the “Flash Rate” of the neons which flash at random between 8 seconds and 1 second – depending on the setting of the pot.
The Potentiometer is shown – mounted at the center top of the plexiglas panel.
The AC plug is connected to the Power Bar.
This NEON BULB circuit is continuous 24/7.

The circuit in ORANGE is the RED LED Circuit.
It shows how all the RED LED Components consisting of the 4 RED LEDs – 2 RED LED Displays – and a “FLASHING” RED LED are wired in SERIES from a 9VDC Adaptor.

The RED LED Potentiometer shown mounted at the top center of the Plexiglas panel can be set to allow a“flash rate” between 1 to 2 seconds.
The 9 VDC Adaptor plugs into the AC Power Bar.
This Flashing RED LED circuit is continuous 24/7.

The other AC Adaptor for the RGB LED Circuit and the plug for the 7W Colored Lights are also plugged into the Power Bar inside of the box.
The RGB LED Circuit has an ON-OFF Switch under each of the PC Boards.
The 7W Colored Light Circuit has an ON-OFF Switch mounted on the right side of the Box.


Step 7: FRONT - Wiring and Construction:

IMAGE #7 gives us a look under the PC Boards where the RGB LED Circuit and 7W Colored Bulbs are.

For the RGB LED Circuit - there is a 9VDC Adaptor “inside the box” supplying 9VDC output to the input of the two 3VDC Regulators under each of the PC Boards.
These regulators are super glued to the Plexiglas Panel beneath the two boards.

Prepare the twisted-wire pairs for the RGB LEDs on the front by making 4 long pairs and 4 short pairs.
Solder a Flashing  RGB LED to the end of each one.
Join the long and short pairs together with an extra short pair connected to the 3VDC Regulator Output.
Wrap the wire string around the PC Board and super glue the RGB LEDs to the Plexiglass below the corners of the board.
Repeat for the other PC Board.

In effect - Both 3VDC OUTPUT circuits have 4 RGB LEDs (with integrated circuit) connected in parallel around the perimeter of each PC Board – with each RGB LED receiving exactly 3VDC.

An ON-OFF Switch is super glued beside each 3VDC Regulator to turn the RGB LEDs on and off when desired.

There is a 7W Blue and 7W Green Bulb connected together in parallel under each PC Board on top of the Plexiglas Panel.
The AC Wire from the 7W bulbs goes through the center Plexiglas holes below the boards and connects to a plug in the box that is in turn connected to the AC Power Bar.
An AC Power Switch mounted on the side of the box turns the 7W lights on and off when desired.


In the 4 corners of the Plexiglas Panel, the 4 RED LEDs as well as the 2 RED LED Displays and the “FLASHING” RED LED are super glued into their respective holes.


The cannibalized parts of the Calculator are then laid out and super glued to the Plexiglas Panel.
A hole was made in the center of the Bubble Button section for the Flashing RED LED.

Both Potentiometers are secured with nuts to the front of the Plexiglas Panel and knobs attached.


Square plastic pieces are then super glued over each of the corner RED LEDs.
That completes construction of the FRONT.



This is a picture of my FIREFLY project in DAYLIGHT.

Step 9: A NIGHT-TIME SHOT in the Dark:


This is a NIGHT-TIME picture of my Firefly Project with all light sources except the colorful Flashing RGB LEDs.

Step 10: FIREFLY - With All 4 Light Sources:

IMAGE #10:

This is a set of photos showing the FIREFLY project with ALL 4 Light Sources.

The top 3 pictures show what the project looks like with one LAMP ON in the room.

The 3 Middle Pictures show the FIREFLY project with all light sources in complete darkness.

The 2 Bottom pictures show the difference between the project with the RGB LEDs on as compared to
with the RGB LEDs turned off.


Most of this project is quite simple to construct.

The box is a piece of cake.
Done in 5 minutes.

Make sure you make sure where all holes are to be drilled in order to mount or solder components
in their correct locations.

Preparation is important.
Don't try to do everything at once.
Prepare the CIRCUITS on the back of the Plexiglas one at a time in a neat layout.
It will then be easier to thread the twisted-wire pairs through the holes without using excess wire.

I Soldered the NEON / Capacitor Pairs together in parallel first and then glued them to the locations on the PC Boards.
They were then ready to accept the twisted-wire pairs through the Plexiglas and PC Boards and be soldered to the wires.

Be careful when super gluing any of the LEDs to the Plexiglas Panel or NEONS to the PC Boards.
Use a toothpick to dab the super glue on.
Be careful not to get any on your fingers - cause they stick better than any of thee components will and will also
leave an ugly smear if you touch the component.
Or worse - block and blur the lighting effect you are trying to produce.

Make sure when securing the PC BOARDS to the PLEXIGLAS that you accurately measure the distance from the
PC Boards to the Plexiglas.
Both PC Boards should look flush after securing the boards with the 3" Carriage Bolts.
With the 3" Carriage Bolts - a distance of 2 inches is ideal for light dispersion as well as room for the 7W Bulbs.

Step 12: SUMMARY:

My FIREFLY project turned out very well.
It took a lot of work - but the results were worth it.

In the DAYTIME - the project on the wall will blink it's NEONS at random at whatever speed I set the potentiometer.
The RED LED components also blink on and off at 1 or 2 seconds per flash .
The 7W Blue and Green Bulbs add a touch of color behind the PC Boards as well if desired.

In the NIGHT-TIME - the same components as above provide a mesmerizing effect in the dark.
But the best effects have got to be with the inclusion of the FLASHING RGB LEDs (with built in light show chips).
Now all 4 Light Sources are working together to provide a fascinating Light Show of VIBRANT moving colors.

 Here is a VIDEO I made of the EFFECTS of the FIREFLY.



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    2 Discussions

    Jake Maverick

    5 years ago on Step 12

    very nice! may well come back to this one again as I have made star trek style LCARS panels in the past and did want to know how best to animate them! now i know/ ish ;-)

    cool project, it would be cool to see some long exposure photography of this thing, have you tried?