For my final project, I’m exploring how to make a touch-activated xylophone that plays nature sounds (tentative name: Xylophorest). It uses various components by Bare Conductive, a small studio based outside of London (thanks Becky for the recommendation!).
Hey hey, this neopixel stick is so awesome. Feels like I’m at a mini dance party. I played with the code a little to make only 6 of the lights illuminate. I also changed the colors a bit so that there’s a strips of light pink and blue in the pattern.
+ This is a pad that you could add on to your chair that you sit in. When you first sit down, the pad starts lit up as green. Over time, the color of the light changes from green to yellow to red. When red, you’ll know that it’s time to get up and go for a walk 🙂
Hiya, here’s the video for the my analog input circuit with serial monitor. Pretty cool to see how this simple interaction and code can be so fun. Thinking about ideas for how to use this in our next project 🙂
Say hello to Cloudstera—the dreamier digital version of the photogenic and beloved Monstera Deliciosa plant. This little creation is made from felt, foam sheet, plush filling, a flower pot, acrylic paint, and a custom-wired LED circuit. Instead of performing photosynthesis, it projects colored lighting with a custom-wired LED circuit. Additionally, each individual Cloudstera leaf can be adjusted and moved. Light up the room with fun colors and Monstera leaf shadows.
Here are photos from the final photoshoot—some taken during the day with natural light and some without.
A Millennial Market
According to The Washington Post, millennials’ recent buying habits have largely included the purchasing of plants for their homes—particularly those millennials who live in cities. These urban dwellers are craving nature in any form they can get it in, turning their homes into mini jungles, or “jungalows.”
However, via a Harvard Business Review study, millennials are complete workaholics. Though they crave work-life balance, many millennial workers are actually scared of taking breaks and vacations. This means less time at home and less time to take care of their plants (which may result in an increased number of dead plants…).
And that’s where Cloudstera comes in. Cloudstera doesn’t need to be watered or turned every now and again to face the sunlight in a different indirection. It does, however, blend in with your other plants and double as a nightlight (or party light!).
Circuit Diagram (updated)
Above, you’ll find my updated circuit diagram. I ended up opting for a higher voltage AA battery pack, as I wanted to increase the amount of time it could run for (if I ever used it at parties, hehe). I had to recalculate the resistor amounts, which I did using this calculator.
Behind the Creation Process
I outlined most of my process in my previous blog post on the creation of the first prototype of Cloudstera.
However, there were some notable changes to this final version. There are quite a few more leaves that I added here to make it more plant-like. Like before, I sewed all of them by hand using two layers of felt surrounding a layer of foam sheet with thin metal wire stapled to it.
Also, I ended up painting the pot a pastel blue with little gold shapes on it. When trying to figure out what material to put in the pot, I experimented with several materials including plush filling. I noticed that when I put the plush filling in the pot, it looked like a cloud in a blue sky. I thought it was pretty cute and kept it that way and ended up adding LEDs to the little cloud part. I also ended up buying green foam and putting it in the pot as well so I could stick all the leaf stems in more sturdily. Below, you’ll find some process photos.
I had a great time with sewing/soldering practice and prototype creation this week. I went through several different iterations in my head that involved different LED placements, but I think I finally landed on a simplified version that I am excited to hopefully move forward with. If you’re curious, you can view my original idea for the nightlight here. Photos and process below.
For fabric, I chose felt because I wanted it to be opaque enough to reflect a shadow on the wall. Being determined to make the leaves as “leaf-like” as possible, I used two layers of felt and a thin layer of foam sheet in between.
Additionally, I wanted to make the leaves & stems bendable so that you are able to bend and position the plant as you would like, wherever it is situated in your home. To do this, I used thin wire and wrapped it around the foam sheet shape of the leaf and stapled it. These ugly staples were covered by the two layers of felt. I then hand-sewed the leaves together using a simple row stitch.
Originally, I thought about including tiny little sequin LEDs in the stems of the leaves, but after thinking about it, I decided it would be more fun to play with the shadows of the leaves against walls. I ended up going to Tinkersphere in East Village – and woah there were so many options to choose from (though unfortunately no pink ones…)!
Because I wanted this plush nightlight to give off a sort of “tropical” vibe, I decided to go with color LEDs. I think I’m going to end up using blue, green, and yellow LEDs together (each leaf will have a different color).
I also bought a few jumbo fast-changing RGB LEDs and tested them out with a coin cell battery. Way, way, way too aggressive for this light.
Not totally sure I did this correctly, but here is my preliminary schematic circuit diagram using traditional symbols. I’m also not sure I wired correctly in this diagram, as I’m planning on wiring each LED/resistor directly to battery wires like in the Adafruit tutorial (unless there is a better recommended method).
For the final version, I am thinking about adding leaves onto the plant, and with each leaf there will be a new LED – so it is possible that there will be more resistors and LEDs needed.
At Tinkersphere, I ended up also getting a 4x AA 6V battery pack just in case higher voltage was needed to support more LEDs. I think I do still need to locate lower Ω resistors, as the lowest ones I currently have are 180 (unfortunately Tinkersphere was sold out of ones from 50 – 150 Ω.
And last but not least…I now have a new Australian friend. After having a bit of a mishap with the sewing machine / my koala friend during the last class (it turned out very ugly), I ended up undoing the stitching and sewing it by hand. I used a backstitch for most of the way around the head piece and then closed it up with a ladder stitch. Additionally, I used some scraps from the boyfriend’s old t-shirts.
When I was little, I used to decorate all of my clothing by sewing by hand, but it’s been a really long time since I’ve worked with fabric. I’m excited to pair fabric and LEDs together – it seems like a super fun assignment, and hopefully I’ll be making something that can add some more fun to my home.
Here are my ideas below:
1/ Monstera Plant Nightlight
I love plants! Which is why this is my favorite idea for this nightlight. Yes, it does follow the hipster jungalow trend.
LED Placement: I am planning on including LED strips in the three stems of the plant. Also, behind each leaf, there will be one bright LED (each one different colored) so that if this “plant” was against a wall, it would create the shadows of the leaves.
Who it’s for: Perfect for the millennial urban dweller who is terrible at taking care of plants.
2/ Lucky Cat
I love lucky cat; he’s a little ubiquitous symbol in many Asian restaurants. The origins of lucky cat are actually from Japan in the 1850s; he’s called maneki-neko and is a symbol of good luck and prosperity.
In the image above, you can see several sketches, including some other ideas on the same page – like a Dan Flavin inspired nightlight and little light-up cubes too.
LED Placement: I picture the LEDs either surrounding lucky cat, or if I added cubes to the side of it, inside those cubes.
Who it’s for: Anyone who loves the normal lucky cat – this is a souped up, light up version. Great for placing in restaurant counters or in your own home.
3/ Solar System Friends
And finally, for my last idea, I bring the solar system to your home. I’m either picturing this as a standalone bunch with a different LED inside each planet or as a hanging mobile.
LED Placement: Inside each planet / celestial body
Who it’s for: Children learning the solar system or adults who love space