I made this as a Mother’s Day present last year as a play on digital data cloud storage. The structure was built using the same method as dablondeemu . I took a twist to it by replacing the empty cavity in the middle with a small box, just big enough to hold USB keys. I also found that using Neo-pixels (WS-2812) was both far easier to wire up, and offered far more colour combinations and animations.
Step 1: Gather Materials
You will need...
- Small wooden box
- Stable wooden base
- Plastic piping
- Wood glue
- Small chunk of wood (for bracket)
- 5v Trinket
- 9-12v power adapter (wall wart)
- 5v regulator
- 2X 10uF capacitors (bypass)
- 330 Ohm resistor
- 1000 µF, 6.3v capacitor
- Momentary push button
- Wires, solder and proto-board
- Hot glue
- Adhesive mesh tape (dry wall)
- Paint, stain, and varnish
- Painting supplies as needed
- Foam backed mounting tape
- Sand paper (80 and 220 grit)
- Rotary tool (Dremel)
- Drill w/ bits
- Safety Glasses
You can find most of these at your local craft, electronics or home improvement store. The only exception being the Ada-fruit gear. some electronics store carry their products, some don't. Worst comes to worst, you can order online.
Step 2: Prepare Baseplate
I used some pre-made wood pieces from my local craft store. The base was a clock background and the cloud is built from a jewelry box. To mount the cloud, drill a hole in the base big enough for your pipe. Flip it over and use a rotary tool, depth guide and a cutting bit to carve a trench to hide the power wires. The round base will be visible so sand it down with some 80 grit sand paper follow up with 220. You could paint this if you wanted to, but I stained mine and decided to skip the varnish.
Step 3: Construction
While the base is drying, prep the box. Start by removing the latch on the front, and leave the hinges on. For a strong connection to the pipe I decided to make a small wood adapter, with a hole drilled down the middle for the pipe. Take your adapter and - using wood glue- stick it onto the bottom of the box and clamp it overnight. The next morning open it up and carve a small notch in the bottom half of the box. This is where the push button will be glued in, used for mode selection. Last up find some clear acrylic and, using a heat gun, bend it to form a handle. Without this handle, over time the cloud will slowly loose fluff and what is left will be off-colour from finger oils and dirt. This handle can also be pushed down to hit the push button glued in the last step.
Step 4: Electronics
Everyone likes shiny lights! The neo-pixels are really easy to hook up. Still, read through the adafruit neopixel uberguide for reference on how to use these best. Start by cutting them in-between the pads to make the pieces you need. 4x singles and a group of 3 for the top. Solder the string together using some jumper wires -22 gauge works fine- in the order they were before you cut the traces in-between the pads. To drive them I was going to use a trinket, but used my Arduino instead. Run a jumper to the “data in” of the first pixel to a 330 Ohm resistor, then to any free digital pin. The resistor is to keep the current down for the first pixel; afterwards the pixels will do this automatically. Connect the 5v and ground leads to your system and be sure to bypass them with a capacitor -1000 µF, 6.3V or higher- this will help eat up the initial surge of current.
You will also need a voltage regulator. Try not to use an old 5v power supply. When you first plug one in they will jump to 18v for a fraction of a second, as the adapter stabilizes it‘s output. This will rapidly if not instantly burn out the entire strip. So use a 9-12v dc power adapter and a 5v regulator. Test the system and mount the lights with foam mounting tape, electronics with hot glue. Remember the lid has to open, don’t accidentally wire it shut.
Alternatively, you could just use a USB port! Any USB wall adapter will provide a nicely regulated 5v source. If you want to get really fancy, run a USB cable into a hub inside of the box! Not only will you have the voltage you need but, gives you a place to keep your USB key’s safely while maintaining a read/write access. I would love to see someone do another remix of this with that mod.
Step 5: Bring the Fluff !
The key to making this look like a cloud is to remove that square shape. Just like dablondeemu I used adhesive backed mesh tape, white Polly fill stuffing and hot glue. Try it on a scrap of wood before you invest in the final product. Start by cutting the tape down the middle, the smaller strips will look a bit more natural. Use the hot glue to stick one end, then make an arch and glue the other end down. Be sure to go at odd angles and different heights; you want to disguise the box you are using. To avoid accidentally sealing the box shut, start with the bottom half, wrap it around the back then cover the top half. Next up, grab a golf ball sized piece of poly-fill and stick it to the tape with a small pool of hot glue and a moment of pressure. Many smaller balls of fluff will give a better result than larger clumps.
Hope you enjoyed the read and I would love to hear any feedback the community has to offer. Check back often or Subscribe to stay tuned!
Take Care Everyone