LED Art Projects

Lasertube

We have a Laser Cutter at my local makerspace (VHS – Vancouver Hack Space) and the tube does need to be replaced every once and a while. A few years back we purchased a spare tube but found that it was no good when we tried to use it. Normally when the tube is ready to be replaced it is quite dirty. But as this one was never used it was perfectly clean and looked quiet beautiful.. It looked like a perfect item to light up with LEDs!!! I laid it on top of a WS2812 LEDs and ran a rainbow pattern. It looked great but I had to find a way to mount both the tubes and the LEDs.

I played with various designs and decided to make a box out of MDF (to house the power supply and controller) and use  brackets to hold the tube. I wanted something that could support the tube no matter what orientation the box was mounted. I used MDF scraps I had in my shop and some metal brackets I got at Home depot.

First I cleaned off all the decals and various stickers that were on the tube using various thinners.

Then I built the box using MDF scraps that I had in my shop, Used plenty of glue and brad nails to hold it together.

Finding a way to securely hold the tube was a challenge. I ended up making some half circle brackets out of plywood. The tube will sit in the bracket and be held in place with a small piece of thin aluminum sheet wrapped around it (and screwed to the bracket)

I also added a large angle bracket to hold each end of the tube (to stop it from sliding). I cut a opening in the box and secured these inside the box. I also added a section of aluminum channel to hold the LED strip.

Then I installed the LED strip in the channel (I used the 144 LED per Meter WS2812 strip) and ran the wires through a hole in the bracket to the inside of the box.

Then I placed the laser tube on the brackets and used the aluminum strips to hold it in place. 

You can see the ends of the tube rest against the metal brackets. I used silicone to secure the ends to the brackets so the tube is not able to slide.

This allows the lasertube display to be mounted in any orientation.

For the electronics I originally used a NodeMCU with some NeoPixel example code running simple patterns. I then added a DF Player MP3 module and speaker. One of the other VHS members wrote some code that played a laser sound and animation when a button was triggered.

I built this display a few years ago and only recent got around to thinking of mounting the tube on the wall in the VHS premise. I decided to replace the controller and use a remote power supply to allow for easier mounting and remote control. I will re-install the sound module and allow for a remote push button to trigger the laser effect eventually.

ESPixelPOPs

For the new controller I used an ESP-01 based ESPixelPOP pcb running the WLED firmware. The ESPixelPOP is very compact and easy to build. WLED gives me a wide variety of animations (the video at the beginning is running the Meteor effect) and control options with the option to still use E1.31 (DMX over Wi-Fi Ethernet).

Here is a video of the LaserTube installed at the VHS.

Arrows

 

A friend gave me some LED traffic direction signs like you see on the back of traffic flagger trunks. These are made of heavy duty aluminum extrusion with very bright orange LED modules. The modules can be controlled individually to make the sign point in the desired direction. I cut the 2 doubled ended arrows in half to make 4 single arrows and decide to wire them together in a row.

I removed the PCB led modules and replace them with sheet aluminum strips cut to the same size. I then mounted WS2812 strips (30 LED/meter) onto the aluminum strips  (there was enough room for 3 widths of LEDs).

I wired the data input to the strips in parallel so that all the LEDs in a vertical row act the same and grouped the chevron sections to align with the same positioned LEDs in the main section.

I used bare copper wire to tie the power connections together and used stranded pairs (from cat5 cabling) for the various data lines.  At the end of each arrow I installed a small plastic box to make the connections and added connectors for power and data in and data out. I wanted to have a controller in the first section and drive the power and signaling through a single line connecting the arrows.

The box had just enough room to mount an ESPixelPOP PCB and still allow room for the power and data cabling.  I used Cat5E cabling for the data (just a single pair ) and outdoor rated landscape lighting cable for the power.

I covered the controller with some heat shrink tubing to protect it from shorting out to anything. I loaded WLED on the the controller and was able to run some patterns right away.

My plan is to daisy chain the 4 arrows in a row with the controller in the first one. I will power them with a remotely located power supply.