Blüp – The Bubble Notifier

I’ve been looking for a softer, less abrupt notification system than a vibration, sound, or light based notice. I couldn’t find anything that fit that criteria so I decided to make my own. Furthermore, I wanted my solution to incorporate my personal interests in clocks and the way we as a society think about time.

From that, Blüp, was born. I came up with the idea of using a bubble in a container of liquid to not only notify me of an event of my choosing, but to also use the time it takes for the bubble to rise to instill a sense of urgency in my response to the event. For example, if you were to receive a message from a boss or other important contact, the bubble would form and rise at a rate that would give you enough time to respond before it pops at the top.

You can find the full instructable on how to build this for yourself here:üp-the-Bubble-Notifier/

I had a lot of fun in this class and especially building this project. I look forward to continuing to make things and share them with the community so expect more from me in the future!

Josh’s Bubble Notification Instructable Draft

Here is a draft of my instructable for my final project. I will update it as I determine how everything goes together!

This is my first instructable and I hope to create many more in the future. I was originally looking for a softer, less abrupt notification system than a vibration, sound, or light based notice. As I am also interested in clocks and adjusting the way we think about time, I wanted to incorporate this into my solution.

I came up with the idea of using a bubble in a container of liquid to first notify me of some event and then use the time it takes for the bubble to rise to provide a sense of urgency to how I should respond to that event. An example would be a message from a boss or important contact. The bubble would form and then rise at a rate that would give you enough time to respond before it pops at the top.

I’ll try to simplify the steps as much as possible so you can replicate this project at home but there is definitely some experimentation involved in getting it to work for you.


  1. Procure all the equipment and supplies

-Nano Air S1 pump


-Clippard ET-2-6 normally closed, 6VDC electronic valve (

-8ft Airline tubing


-Airline check valve


-Adafruit Huzzah ESP8266


-FTDI Cable


-9VDC Power Adapter


-Extension cord

-Air reservoir*

-Glass VOSS Still Water Bottle


  1. Prepare water tank

I struggled to purchase the glass VOSS water bottle as most locations around me in NYC only sold the smaller plastic versions. I finally found them at Fairway. I bought the still water version because the cap was flatter than the sparkling water version.

Begin by scraping off the labeling using an Exacto blade. If you use the side of the blade instead of the tip, the process works a bit easier. I’ve been told that you can use acetone as well but I’m not sure it will cloud the glass at all. Give it a try and let me know!

After the bottle is clean, drill a ¼” hole through the center of the lid.


  1. Setup the air delivery system

Cut 3 lengths of tubing to the following lengths:


Connect one length of tubing from the pump to the reservoir inlet and another tube from the reservoir outlet to the solenoid. The last tube will connect from the solenoid outlet to the bottom of our water tank but we will do this step last.


  1. Build the base

Find a couple scraps of plywood and cut out the following pieces:

Next, cut a 1/16” thick sheet of acrylic into the following pieces:


  1. Wire together the electronics

Servo to board

Pump to relay to board


  1. Program the Huzzah board

Sign up for an account

IFTTT account


  1. Put it all together

Place the electronics and air system into the base and feed the outlet tube from the tank cap through the acrylic cover to the outlet on the solenoid. After the tube is firmly attached, place the acrylic cover over the bottom compartment and secure with the 4 screws.

Next fill up the tank with the TK liquid and screw on the cap. Turnover and place the sealed tank into the base. Flip on the bottom switch and make sure the power indicator LED is lit. Then send a test to the device and make sure everything works correctly.

That’s it! I hope you enjoy and that everything works well for you. If you have any questions or changes that can be made to this setup, please post them below as I’d love to hear them! Thanks for stopping by.

Josh’s Final Project Ideas

I’m still working on my ideas but here is what I have so far:

1. A light fixture that uses a chinese yo-yo or diabolo. The LEDs or OLED would be on the diabolo and it could be placed on a string between two sticks which move up and down to maintain the spin. If you want, you could control the tilt of the diabolo lamp for reading or some other activity. All of this would work with a gyroscope or accelerometer.


2. A clock, timer or general notification device that uses bubbles. I would have a container filled with water or a transparent viscous liquid that makes the bubble slower to rise and a way of adjusting the rate/size of bubbles that are emitted.

3. An app that allows people to play a city scale version of Stratego. It would be called Streetego.

I have too many subjects that I am interested in so it’s hard to narrow it down but I will come up with some other ideas for class.

Josh Corn: Giant Battery for a Giant LED

For this innovative switch, I decided to take my plush LED project and change it into a table lamp. The concept was to create an equally proportioned coin cell battery to place between the legs of the LED to make it turn on. I began by ripping apart my plush project and prototyping the wiring for the circuit.
After I got the circuit working, I decided to work on creating the battery. I ordered a 6″ diameter block of aluminum from McMaster Carr and decided I would CNC etch the lettering into the surface. In working with the staff at the VFL, we realized that the CNC costs would be prohibitive. I still wanted to move forward with the etching however so we decided to try a technique that they hadn’t attempted before: electroetching with salt water.

I began the process by cutting out the shapes I wanted to etch on the vinyl cutter.
After painstakingly cutting out the vinyl negatives for both sides of the LED, I sanded the block of aluminum to prepare it for etching.
I used transfer paper to apply the vinyl onto the battery surfaces.
I added a wire to the block to connect to the hot lead of the battery.
And then I wrapped the rest of the block in electrical tape.
A plastic tupperware was borrowed and filled with salt water. I grabbed a tiny scrap of galvanized steel and attached a wire that ran to the negative lead on the battery.
When we finally connected everything, the exposed galvanized steel immediately began bubbling.
After a couple minutes, the water became pretty black and gross as the galvanized coating was removed.
I checked on the etching multiple times and eventually moved to a larger trashcan so I could stand the block up during the process. We also tried using a scrap of aluminum as we feared that the fumes from the galvanized steel were toxic. As the bubbles became less frequent, I changed out the battery to a fresh one. This definitely made the process move along faster. After about 5 hours, I was happy with the state of the etch.

After the battery was complete, I applied some conductive aluminum tape around the edge to complete a circuit also made from the same tape.

I realized that it was fairly silly to use “conductive aluminum tape” as the aluminum itself should be conductive enough to make the circuit work. Trying the circuit again with only aluminum rods as the LED leads and the battery to connect them, I got the project to work as I intended.

I then worked on refining the look of the LED and wiring it up for my presentation. I’m pretty happy with the final result.


I hope to continue working on this project and finish it up as a standing desk lamp.

Josh Corn – SAD LED Plush Toy

I created an LED plush toy in the form of a giant LED. The concept is that the blue light can be used to treat seasonal affective disorder during the winter months.

I really enjoyed working on this project but struggled to figure out how to get the right form for the top portion of the LED. After a trip to Canal Plastics, I decided to use an acrylic half sphere and a cylinder to create my form.

I ordered 5mm blue surface mount LEDs from so that I could mount them all to an acrylic circle and easily solder them. After laser cutting all the mounting holes, I mounted 10 of the LEDs. I soldered 100 Ohm resistors to each one and wired them up in parallel to a 3xAAA battery pack.




I then mounted the circle in the acrylic cylinder and tied a washer to the leads for strain relief.


I filled the cylinder and top of the sphere with plastic pellets and taped them together. I didn’t want to glue them in case I needed to get back in to fix the wires.


I then tried to cover the top with fiber fill and found it to be too lumpy when I covered it with white leggings.


I removed all the filling and tried quilting batting instead. The result was much more uniform! I sewed it up by hand and added some cotton legs which hide the battery pack and wires.



That’s it!


Week 6 Homework

Hey everyone,
For class on October 15th, the homework is as follows:
-Finish your plush toy and create a formal presentation. Remember that there will be a special guest coming in for critiques. We will be queuing up before class so make sure your keynote presentation is uploaded to Dropbox if you have one. Your presentation should include the story behind your toy, and how you tackled the light diffusion challenge. Please direct your critique by highlighting aspects of your project on which you’d like feedback.

-Create a blog post showing your final plush toy as well as the story behind it, materials used and how you solved the diffusion problem. Also include what you would do differently if you had to do it again. Post to the blog by 10pm on Oct. 14th. Video optional but encouraged!

If you have multiple prototypes, bring them in to show your process.

If you want parts from Adafruit, email your requests to Becky (with product URLs) and she will put together a group order and bring it to PoD after work on Monday. You can also email her for circuit help.

Have fun!

Josh’s LED Plush Toy Idea

Here is my idea for an LED plush toy!


My plush toy will cater to the public’s current infatuation with LEDs. Though it will take an ironic LED shape, I have a specific goal in mind for its use.

With more and more LED products being introduced, a serious threat is growing as well. Most computer, phone, and now wearable screens have LED backlights which shine high intensity light into our eyes all day long. This has many potential risks including decreased human performance, sleep issues, myopia onset in children and other physiological issues.

Because white LED light is produced by using a blue LED and covering it with some form of phosphor coating, there is still a large blue spike in the visible light spectrum. This spike, which we don’t naturally see during night conditions, can suppress our melatonin levels and in turn affect our circadian rhythms.

Light can also be used at specific wavelengths for therapeutic applications. For example, to combat seasonal affective disorder when going outside is sometimes difficult, LEDs have been used to allow exposure to blue light at solar noon.

My concept would be to place two separate circuits within the plush toy: one blue and one red/amber. The blue LED circuit can be switched on during the day as SAD treatment during winter and the red/amber circuit can be used during the evening before bed. The legs of the LEDs will each have a switch with the two circuits running to them.

I plan on using 470nm wavelength LEDs for blue and around 650mm for the red LEDs.


Bonus: If you are interested in lowering your exposure to the blue spike of light from your computer monitor while you work at night, check out the plugin flux:

For more research on light health and specifically LED issues, check out the following resources: