Patch Cable Fiber Optic Star Ceiling (false Ceiling)




Introduction: Patch Cable Fiber Optic Star Ceiling (false Ceiling)

One night I showed my significant other a fiber optic star ceiling; it was here on instructables.  The one I speak of is from a kit.  I do not have money for the kit, so I figured I would improvise


Fiber optic patch cable from ebay -  200+feet w/shipping $25.00
Wire cutter/strippers                        -  RadioShack $12.00
Diamond stone                                -  Friend
Razor blades/scissor                     -  personal collection
Volt meter                                          - Frys Electronics $5.00
1000mcd White LED                      -  20 count Ebay $0.99 for the lot
150K resisters                                 - Free w/purchase of LED
Board (polystyrein)                          -  Home Depot $6.00
#8 - 3" screws                                  -  Home Depot 9 count $4.00
Beard Board                                     -  Frys Electronics $6.00
Time                                                   - 15 to 20 hours

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Step 1: Gather Materials

Search in these places:

Electronics Store
Personal doomsday box

Step 2: Measure and Cut

I have only covered a 4x3 section, this is above the baby bed.  Using sketchup I drew the design and measured the distance from the center.  Putting the light source in the center of the board saved on what I thought was a very limited amount of fiber optics.

One site that sale fiber optic kits, suggest 3 fibers per square foot - this is with large diameter fibers. The fibers I am using are .005in dia. a human hair is .002, so I decided to use 4 fibers every 6"sqaure inches. I ended up with around 200 strands of fiber optics - ranging from 2.9ft to 7inches.

Step 3: Start Stripping

tools for fiber optics are expensive. When I realized the function of the suggested tool, I improvised.

I used kitchen sheers to cut the patch cable.
I used regular wire strippers to expose the fiber optic.
The fibers are easier to handle is you remove them outer-casing and kevlar.

Step 4: Polish the Ends.

When you cut the fiber optic you most likely will not get a clean smooth break. See image, most likely you have a uneven end, this uneven end will mean that the light will appear bright on side or you only see very very dim light from any angle. In the image below, you would see the light at its brightest from the left side of the fiber.

I held one end of the fiber optic to a small LED light source and with the other end I would see how visible the light is. The dimmer the light, the more jagged the break. I used a Diamond stone to polish the ends smooth. 

When you look at a fiber optic with a smooth even break, it appears as the image below (Clean break top view) - I used a 200x hand held microscope with a custom-made holder to see the top view of the fiber.

Step 5: Make It Snug

sorry for not having an image on this step.

I after polishing the ends, I would strip the fiber again to exspose about 1inch of the fiber. I am using 4 LEDS as the light source. Each LED has illuminates roughly 50 fibers.

First gather you newly strip ends together, place inside appropriate heat shrink tubing allowing for some of the heat shrink to also cover the outer-casing on the fiber itself. I covered about .5 inch of the fiber end and .5 inch of the outer-casing. Cut the glass about 1/8 inch from the tubing. Now that you have all the fiber ends even, polish the lot slowly.

Step 6: Playing God.

I am using a polystyren 1/2inch board as the false ceiling.  Find the center of the board.

Take one set of the strands and start inserting them into and threw the board. I used a stretched out paper clip to make the whole.

With kits and custom installs the fibers are pushed threw the ceiling then cut from the underside. But since I spent about 12 hours polishing the ends of 200 fiber optics I was not about the break them again. So I just pushed the strands threw the board.

**After I finished and tested, I realized some of the fibers were only partially through the board ; however those fibers illuminate bright enough that they are "glow" inside the foam board and are visible from either side.

Step 7: Let There Be Light.

I am using a cell phone wall charger for the power source. It is DC 5v 720ma. I only know the LED can't really take more than 5v so I used the volt meter to test the phone charger.

I do not recommend what I have done. I am sure there are many who know a better way to power this whole think.

I place heat shrink tubing on each LED with about 1 inch extending beyond the tip of the LED, I then added tubing the fiber strands so that the fiber strands would fit snug inside the tubing on the LED. This also helps center the fibers on the light source.

Insert LED, resistor into beard board.
Insert ground from phone charger to ground on bread board
Insert power from phone charger to positive on bread board.
Secure bread board in center of foam board, secure power supply wires to foam board.

Step 8: Mount As False Ceiling. (don't Tell the Landlord)

get a patner for the mounting and get an appropriate ladder. I did not want to make a mess of the ceiling so I use the #8 screws.   1/4in carriage bolts were too large for me.

Push the screws threw the board in the corners and center of each edge.
Drill the screw into ceiling enough to secure the screw and board.

Step 9: Enjoy.

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    3 Discussions


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Really nice instructable. I know you used board from a DIY store but incase anyone wants to try this with random polystyrene or old tiles: Polystyrene ceiling tiles can be a big fire risk. The ones available from DIY stores now are treated with a fire retardant so they don't burn. Old tiles and random flat packaging may not and will burn and drip hot plastic and toxic smoke during a house fire (Get some packaging, take it outside and set fire to it if you want to see how well this stuff burns)


    9 years ago on Introduction

    150k resistors are much too large. The usually forward voltage of a white LED, is around 3.4 volts. With a 5 volt supply, you would need an 82 ohm resistor for each LED to run a 20 mA, which is about as high as you want to go. 150k = 150,000 ohms...


    9 years ago on Step 7

    LED's can take more than 5V; they're tolerant of a lot of a wide range of voltages. The current is a different matter though. The resistors you used are definitely large enough to protect them from too much current, but the LED's are probably dimmer than they need to be. Try replacing the 150k ohm resistors with 220 ohm or 330 ohm resistors.