USB Powered RGBLED Chest (w/ Arduino + Basic Program)




Introduction: USB Powered RGBLED Chest (w/ Arduino + Basic Program)

This Instructable was created from a second hand jewelry box, some LED's, and an Arduino. The emphasis on being able to reuse all of the components after the chest was created.

The chest goes through the colour spectrum, with the exception of white light.

I find myself and others transfixed by this project!

 Here is a quick video outlining what I did

Step 1: Gathering Materials

For this project you will need

Expendables (~$23.00 CAD)
1  Jewelry Box (purchased from second hand store 4.99 CAD) {VALUE VILLAGE}
1 Sheet of Plexiglas (~$5.00 CAD) {HOME DEPOT}
~4 Bags of Clear/Flat beads ($1.00/bag CAD)  { DOLLAR STORE } (~$12.00/bag elsewhere)
Metallic + misc. Paint (~$5.00 CAD) {MICHAEL'S}
Sand Paper (~$3.00 CAD) {HOME DEPOT}
Masking Tape
Duct Tape
Small amount of cardboard (optional)

1  Breadboard
1 Arduino (I used an Uno Rev. 3) 
A/B USB Power chord (for programming and power)
1 Switch (optional/not used)
3 resistors (optional/not used)
LOTS of jumper cables 

Screw Drivers
Exacto Knife
Power Driver
(+Drill Bits)
Paint Brushes


The bottom drawer of this jewelry box was modified from its original design in order to maximize the amount of LED's and to situate the Arduino comfortably. (explained later)

Step 2: Gutting the Housing

Part 1.1: Removal Of Felt/Silk Inserts

I started ripping out parts of the inserts with my hands to find that the glue was a little bit stronger/older/harder than expected.
I used my Exacto knife to get behind the seams to make the gutting a little bit easier.


Part 1.2: Cleaning "gunk" off of box

Some may use some a solvent like nail polish remover to get off all the glue and other things that have accumulated over the years, however I just used a combination of some windex, hot water, and paper towel to clean up the box a little bit!


Part 1.3: Sanding (Optional at this stage)

Here is where I removed the hinges from the top piece, and I sanded all of the wood pieces that wood be facing the outside. Because the box was second hand, and in fairly poor condition, I decided to sand the box down a little bit to make it look more appealing, and easier to paint!

Step 3: Designing the Housing

These tasks are all independent of each other, and can be done in any order.

Part 2.1 Brace for Plexiglas window

Rather then cutting out the whole middle section of the box, and creating my own mount for the Plexiglas  I punched out a rectangle within the box to support the Plexiglas.

To do this I marked equal measurements off of the sides of the box with a ruler or a measuring tape.
Because the wood was so thin, I used an Exacto knife and etched/traced my lines, which eventually cut through the wood.

Part 2.2 Hole for the A/B USB chord stored in the box 


Remember to only apply pressure up and down! NOT side to side.

To make the large hole itself I started out with 3 small pilot holes. I then went up in bit size until all 3 holes crossed over each other, and was large enough in size.

Part 2.3: Destruction and Reassembly of bottom drawer

This wasn't completely necessary but it added a little bit more space to the electronic compartment, which in turn allowed me to add about 4-6 more LED's.

I broke off the back piece of the bottom drawer (with my hands) and slipped out the insert. I then glued that wooden insert to the bottom of the drawer. Make sure you have enough room to do this! (IE the drawer will still fit after this part)
Part 2.4: Cutting the Plexiglas

I used a ruler and an Exacto-knife to trace a piece slightly bigger then my jewelry box, then sliced it down to size.
I held the ruler down with 1 hand, and traced the line against the ruler with the other hand. I did this about 5 or 6 times on each side. I then bent the glass along the contour and then the glass snapped cleanly off.

Step 4: PROTOBoard Design

Part 3.1: Conceptualization of Design

Things to keep in mind

Understanding how LED's work, in series and parallel.
Understanding how LED's work in a matrix.
Understanding how an RGB LED has a 3 filament matrix within the bulb itself

Keep it simple. Through 2 drawings, I was able to have an understanding of where I wanted to go with the design on the protoboard. I didn't want to lose the intensity of the light so I chose to wire my LED's in series.

The LED's are wired in series
The common (5V source) is wired in a parallel bridge

Circumstantial Changes to the design:

Removed the Resistors to create a more intense light (Using regulated 5-5.1V power source.)

Step 5: Programming the Arduino

4.1 Programming Architecture

I wanted to create a program that would fade to each visible wavelength in the spectrum. To do this, it must be understood that the fading transition is behaving more like an analog signal then a digital one.

I used simple manipulation of the primary colours in timed steps.

There is a constant signal of going into each of the common anode.
Red is defined as HIGH when the analogWrite(Rled, 255)
This means that there is a signal (or electricity) being sent from the 5V pin (anode) as well as red led pin(cathode), meaning that red LED wont be expressed or turned on, because the LED wont work when it is being bombarded with signals from both sides (signal confusion).

When the red LED is defined as LOW or analogWrite(Rled, 0), electricity is allowed to pass from the common anode (5V source) through to the PWM cathode.

Step 6: Painting (optional)

5.1 Reflection of Light

On the inside I used a metallic silver paint to remedy using aluminum foil to reflect some of the light. I chose the paint because it does not conduct electricity the same way that aluminum foil does.

You could try using a white base/primer. It may reflect more light.


5.2 Painting the outside

I put on a few coats of paint, and added a few emblems to give the box a bit more of a personal touch. I tried to use a stencil but it didn't work out too well, so I just hand painted everything.

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