Investing in the lights

A few days later after ordering a few things off of eBay, there’s now more to come. I did a little experimenting on the fountains yesterday and, well, I broke things.

IMG_0001One of the things I’m changing with the fountains is the power supply. I’m upping it to a 9v power supply. To make it easier to move around the project or to swap the power supply again, I’m using these 9v clip connectors. IMG_0003I started taking apart the fountains to set up my experiment. I will move the current-limiting resistors for the fountain LEDs from the mini-breadboard to a soldered perfboard. I’m also planning on soldering the shift register boards directly to the perfboard since these LEDs will be running off of shift registers the next time you see them. I still need to draw up a plan to confirm the number of pins I need and things like that.

IMG_0001Anyways, on to that experiment! There were a few of things I wanted to test. I had some ideas on new nozzle designs, as well as “piping” designs where the pump would be placed away from the actual nozzle outlet. The last thing was to see if the 9v power supply would play nice with my current setup.

The picture above is of a new nozzle design that takes cues from the experiment I did with the last light show. The opening is slightly larger this time and the flow is pretty decent. The flow gets a little rough as the height is increased or if the water is aimed directly straight up. Those are the limits to using the cheap materials and pumps I’m using. The easy work around is to not aim it directly up, which looks good enough for me.IMG_0002About the “piping” design… I was thinking about trying to isolate the pumps from the turbulent water caused from the water falling pretty much directly onto the water going into the pump, which does cause the pumps to fail at times. I started playing around with the straws I have and I think this is something I’ll be trying out the next time. Of course, the picture above is literally just playing around with water. You’re not going to see random straws sticking up from the pool in the show. 😛IMG_0003This was the aftermath of those piping experiments. I’m pretty satisfied with my short experiments. To sum up, the pumps will be at the back of the pool and the nozzles positioned away from the pumps using the straws. They’ll sport that new nozzle design (though I’m still working on being able to reproduce them consistently). Now about that 9v power supply…IMG_0004It seems as though I’ve burned out three of the 5 transistor circuits. I used 2N4401 transistors because I already had them when I was building the circuit for the fountains. I’ll be moving to mosfets as I’ve always wanted to.

Those mosfets have been ordered on eBay. I also ordered some more of these 5x7cm perfboards, and five more water pumps. I’m not so sure we’ll see all 10 water fountains in the next show (but anything is possible, right?). I mostly ordered them as spares.

So that’s it for now. The project is again on the backburner as I wait for things to come in. Thanks for reading!


Arduino Light Show #7 Debut: “Make A Wish”

My PHP script on the Light Show website ended up releasing the shows a day early so I figured why not… I’m proud to present the newest version of the Arduino Light Show Project with this holiday special! Enjoy!

A detailed build overview is coming up soon. Stay tuned!


Brainstorming for Fountain Show 1.1

IMG_20140917_135652Ever since I wrapped up the first fountain show, I’ve been trying to come up with ideas on how to improve the show. The focus of the next stage, if it ever gets off the ground, is creating some kind of backdrop. I found that there were too many times where the stage was completely dark so a lit up backdrop would fix that, in addition to opening up more kinds of lighting effects which, as it is right now, is limited with just 5 fountains sitting there.
IMG_20140917_120624This is probably the easiest upgrade I can do because it doesn’t involve setting up any vertical elements like my other ideas have. It’s basically lining the basin with RGB LEDs which would make for some cool chasing patterns, but that’s about it. It’s not the idea I’m likely to go with but it’s a cheap option.IMG_20140917_120631This idea would be kind of a spin on Light Show 3 with the lit up towers, except that they’d be horizontal.

The issues I’m having are coming up with materials and figuring out how I’m going to set things up. I don’t have an abundance of cardboard any more so I don’t have the materials to make the backdrop. The original set up was somewhat temporary. I’d leave the basin filled with water, but I’d put it on top of a table to avoid bugs on the ground in my basement. I don’t think I’d be able to do that with a backdrop attached to it so I may end up building it completely separate of the basin. We’ll see.

I was contemplating putting the fountain show on a hiatus until next spring, but Halloween is coming up and I’d like to do some kind of LED project for it so it could be a Halloween themed fountain show. I always end up waiting until the last week before deciding to do something. If I can’t figure out a plan for the fountain show, I may just have to put it on hold and go back to my “traditional” light show, or something else completely, for Halloween. I also have plans (not on paper yet) for Christmas that’s separate from the fountain show. So yeah, the fountain show is in bit of a limbo right now.

Thanks for reading!

All dried up

It’s always a little depressing having a project at a standstill. Right now, for me, that would be my fountain project.

IMG_20140903_111805Have I given up? No, I don’t think so. I’m sitting on more ideas, but they’re just ideas until I actually start. I’m not exactly sure how to start, and I’ve also been preoccupied with my website, store, and PCBs. But let’s not get sidetracked here.

I’ve always tried to be secretive in my plans, mostly so I don’t disappoint myself if something doesn’t work out the way I planned. I’ve been sitting on this idea for a while now so I might as well just share it.

I want to create a waterfall backdrop, illuminated by a row of LEDs at the base, with three fountains in the forefront as the main focus on the stage. The waterpumps supposedly have a “head height” of just over a meter, which is taller than the waterfall I’m thinking, though I don’t think the flow rate of one pump would be good enough so I’d use two. I forgot to take measurements of the fountains, but I don’t think they reach any higher than about 20cm so the backdrop won’t be much taller than that. I’m having trouble finding materials for an elevated basin with a lip to create a smooth waterfall. That’s going to be the next experiment whenever this project takes off.

Light Show 5: “Night Sky”

It’s been a while since I’ve touched this light show project so I discovered a few things going back at it. The leftmost blue LED is disconnected, probably at the Arduino headers, which was a huge headache when I was building it. I’ll go in to fix it soon.

It wasn’t until after the first show that I realized that not all of the pins on the background LEDs (the “floodlights” as I call them) are connected to PWM pins. It’s sort of lobsided where one RGB LED has all PWMed outputs while the other just has red PWMed. I’m thinking of leaving one color each with PWM and try and add something new with the leftover PWM pins…

As with most of my shows, there are parts I’m more proud of than others… Thought I’d mention that for the millionth time. Anyways, thanks for watching!

Check out the Arduino Light Show project page, as well as my guide for getting started with Arduino, electronics, and LEDs!

Light Show 3: Build Complete!

The last two days were dedicated to building the new stage for the light show. I’ve gone back to basics, almost mirroring the first light show I made with servos. My last light shows weren’t very popular, and that’s probably because I tried to hard to use up all of the pins on my Arduino which made it harder to program. This one will be tough to program again, but there is less to worry about.1Building the towers to hold the servos went fairly well. This time around, the towers have white LEDs on them and are a little taller. Also, the materials are already white so I don’t have to cover them up at all.
2The bottom of the towers have the openings for the LED wiring to come out. All but one LED managed to stay wired after taping the towers closed. I cut a little hole to get behind that one LED and it turns out the LED itself was damaged, not the wiring as I first thought.1This is the final result. It really does look like an evolved version of the first light show project.2… I don’t want to deal with anymore than this.
3 So that’s it for now! Programming will start soon. Thanks for reading!