LED Star Beam Clock




Introduction: LED Star Beam Clock

About: Designing electronic creations from microcontrollers, LEDs and anything else I can pull out of a dumpster and make use of. Check my Profile

For this design, some Piranha RGB LEDs are positioned around the outside edge of a clock that hangs on the wall. They are slightly angled so their beams will create a star pattern against the wall as it cycles through approx 16million colors. I am using a clock, purchased second hand, 8x RGB Piranha LEDs and one of my versatile High Power LED Drivers, which can control almost any combination of LEDs from a high power 5 or 3 watt to 25 single color LEDs per channel.

It does not have to be a clock, all thats need is a housing that the LEDs can be positioned in, and a way to cover the LEDs but allow the beams to shine. I built a example using a 3" diameter by 1/2" thick bottle cap and some cardboard. See Images.

I first saw someone build something like this a while ago on an artists website and have wanted to make one since. I do not have the link anymore, if someone knows of it please let me know so I can credit him.

I have many other LED related projects, please Check My Profile to view them.


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Step 1: Collect the Supplies

I have Basic Kits and Economy Kits for the LED Driver I used for this project. As well as PCBs with free shipping.

Get a the Same Kit as seen in this Instructable, with 12x Pirahna RGB LEDs

Mix 20 of any Color 5mm LED for $4+shipping, Find It Here

- LEDs, color and amount is personal preference. My Store has good prices on LEDs, shipped from the U.S.A. I chose 8x Piranha RGB LED
- LED Driver, this is optional, single color LEDs could be used.
    I can put together custom kits with what type of LEDs thats wanted. Contact Me for info.
- Resistors, if not using a LED Driver
- Housing, a clock in this insturctable
- Power Supply
- Wire, type and amount depends

- Soldering Iron
- Solder
- Pliers
- Diagonal cutter
- Wire Stripper
- Drill
- Drill Bit, probably 5mm or so
- Masking or Painters Tape

I will can create a custom kit with LEDs and Driver with exactly what you want included. Just Contact Me

Step 2: Drill Holes for LEDs

First off the hole positions need to marked. The clocks diameter was 9.25" so its circumference was about 29". Since I wanted 8 LEDs, I spaced the holes 3.65" apart. I cut a bendable piece of plastic to use as a ruler.

The Images below cover the following steps.

- Cover the area where the holes will be with some painters or masking tape.

- After testing for how far away from the wall I needed the LEDs, I found a notepad and pen that were the right height for the LEDs.

- Mark a line all the way around.

- Use a ruler to mark the spacing of the holes to be drilled on the line that was already drawn.

- Drill the holes, be careful and precise. I used a hand drill and it worked fine.

Step 3: Wire the LEDs

I was already almost finished with the wiring before I thought I should make it into an Instructable. But its simple enough, all the RGB LEDs were wired in parallel on a string of 4 solid strand wires.

A third-hand really helps with this step. I preferred to use solid strand as I could strip off enough insulation to solder the LED to it without cutting the wire.

- Take a look at the LEDs, note what pin is what color and which one is the common anode or cathode. You don't want to cross a wire and have to redo it.

- I started with the common lead(anode or cathode) and soldered it to the first LED.

- Test fit the LED into the housing and mark on the wire where the next LED will need to be soldered to.

- Continue with the rest of the LEDs and then starting from the beginning do the next color.

- For RGB LEDs, in the end you will have 4 wires with the LEDs spaced out on them.

- Lastly solder some wire to each of the colors/common lead that will attach the driver board. I used dual-stranded wire. Sorry I do not have any Images of this part Or the string finished and not installed. 

Step 4: Glue in the LEDs

Warm up your hot glue gun or use some other type of clear glue.

- Find a good hole to place the first of the LEDs into.

- Apply some glue to the outside of the LED, be sure not to get any on the lens of the LED.

- Place it in its hole, and very slightly angle it towards where the wall will be to get a better beam.

- Continue around till all the LEDs are placed, glued in, and angled correctly.

Step 5: Attach the Driver or Resistors to the LEDs

If a LED controller is being used:

- Construct your driver using This Instructable or One of your choosing.

- Solder the wire leads of the LED's into their correct holes on the driver.

If single Color LEDs are being used:

- Its usually best if each LED gets its own resistor, but otherwise a single larger resistor could be used. This Calculator can be used to calculate resistor values or Contact Me
*Auto-Change LED need their own resistor for each LED.

- Solder the resistors to the LEDs and connect them in parallel.

- Or solder all the LEDs in parallel and place the large-wattage resistor in series with V+.

Prepare the PSU:

- For this I am using a 5v 500ma USB charger. Modifying a wall-wart style PSU as I am, is not suggested, do so at your own risk.
*Otherwise My Store has 5v @ 2A Power Supply with matching panel mount barrel jack, its would be a lot safer.

for the USB Charger:

- I removed the plug blades and replaced the wires with longer ones, blue wire in the images.

- I then soldered some dual strand 20ga speaker wire from V+ & V- to the respective holes on the driver board.

Step 6: Switch for the LEDs

Since the clock will always be on, and the LEDs should not always be on, I added a rocker switch to the bottom of the clock that turns off the AC to the PSU.

- Place some masking tape in the spot the switch is going to go.

- Mark the outer dimension of the switch.

- Use a hacksaw or rotary tool to carefully cut out the switch.

The switch I used is pressure fitted, so it will hold itself in place as long as the hole is the correct size.

Step 7: Stuff It All in and Finish

Everything needs to get put into the housing.

- For this clock, the clock mechanism(which takes AC), the PSU AC wires and the AC Cord wires where all wire nutted together, except the Hot Lead for the PSU, that was soldered to the switch and another wire was ran from the other side of the switch to the AC and wire nutted together.
I then taped the nuts to the wires with electrical tape.

- I positioned the PSU in a good space and used some 3m tape, I lost the packaing and forgot the name but its grey and actually a very viscous liquid, it will stick to anything and usually won't come off. If someone knows what it is let me know I will amend this comment.

- Found an out of the way spot for the LED Driver and taped it as well.

- Snap in the switch.

- I then knotted the AC cord so it can not get torn out and damage the other parts.

Give everything a real good look. Watch out for any wires that could come loose or are exposed. And that everything is wired correctly.

I needed to notch the back panel as the LEDs were in the way of it closing all the way.
Then screwed it back together. And it worked great!

Take a look at my other Instructables. Lots of other LED related projects.

32 LED Infinity Mirror Instructable

Also look out for my future High Power RGB LED Project with DMX-512 control, stand-alone functions and sound reactivity comming soon.

Help Support this and future projects by looking at my Other Projects and Visiting My Store To View the Available Kits.

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    7 Discussions


    8 years ago on Step 7

    how does each led know when to turn on or off according to the time ?


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Hmmm... This gives me an idea... I think I'm gonna work on this design but make the clock facing toward the wall and attach a red LED pointing to the outside of the clock to the hour hand, a blue LED to the minute hand, and a green LED to the second hand, so in the dark I could just tell time from where the lights are situated on the wall....


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Or perhaps you could use the clocks hands as conductors. It would then only light up the led corresponding to the hands location.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Love to see a video (time lapse maybe) of the clock working.