Hacking together a color changing water wall

[BadWolf's] girlfriend wanted him to build her a lamp for Christmas and he didn’t disappoint. What he came up with is a water-filled color changing lamp with bubbles for added interest. See for yourself in the clip after the jump.

The color changing properties are easily taken care of by some waterproof RGB LED strips. [BadWolf] went the Arduino route for this project but any microcontroller will be able to fill the role of color cycling. The enclosure is all hand-made from acrylic sheets. He grabbed some chemical welding liquid from the hardware store and applied it to the acrylic with a syringe. That’s easy enough when attaching the edges to one side of the enclosure. But it gets much tougher when it’s time to seal up the other side. He recorded a video of this which shows the syringe taped to a rod so he can get it down in there, pushing the plunger with a second extension device.

Bubbles are supplied by a small aquarium pump. We’re wondering if this will need frequent cleaning or if you can get some pool chemicals to keeps it nice and clear (or just a teaspoon of bleach)?

Comments

  1. Th3badwolf says:

    To keep it clean she used some pool stuff before but now she’s trying pure water from the drugstore,it seems to take much mroe time to build tiny depots now.

  2. Tritaris says:

    Looks good. Should have the air come in from both sides so the bubbles are more evenly distributed.

  3. Michael says:

    What about mineral oil for slower rising bubbles?

  4. MrBishop says:

    I’d think some pure water with a filter should do the trick, then simply swap out the filter once every (x) days/weeks/months.

  5. Bob Spafford says:

    Unfortunately, all of the fixes to maintain primo water require ongoing care. All of the folks who build regulated baths used in scientific research sell chemicals which keep water clear forever. I bought something called Steri-Nobel from Tamson which has kept the water clear in their Neslab baths that I used in a geophysical instrument I built over 30 years ago. The expensive Pabst outer rotor pump motors have had to be replaced, but the decades-old original water is still untouched to this day. As I remember it, Steri-Nobel is an exotic salt of silver, so there are no oxidizers being consumed. The bio-crud just won’t grow if there’s a bit of silver around.

  6. Japala says:

    Tutorial on something similar. We didn’t have cool led strips back then. :)

    http://metku.net/index.html?path=mods/bubbles/index_eng

  7. Scott says:

    Why did you decide to add the 4 strips in the middle? I’ve been planning on building a large (6′ x 4′) bubble wall and I seem to keep seeing these with the strips but I’m not sure the purpose or if I want to do them.

  8. MinorHavoc says:

    Nice work!

    I’m curious–why it was necessary to weld the inside dividers with the syring extender? Extra strength? The chambers don’t seem to need to be completely separated (like if you were to have differently tinted the water in each chamber.) Isn’t welding the outside edges enough to hold it together?

    Also, did you try a less expensive LED strip shining up through the bottom of the plexiglas instead of submerging a waterproof strip?

    • Th3badwolf says:

      Welding the inside is necessary because when you start working with that material,you quickly find out how malleable it is. Add the fact that even if it’s 1 inch thick,there’s a couple liters of water in it and it does weight a lot by itself. The compartment aren’t compartment also,they are opened at the bottom,their 2 functions are only making it stiffer and esthetic/bubble spreading.

      The LED strip used was the less expensive I could find,and you’ll quickly discover that 90% of what’s avaialable is IP65 or something similar,which means they are water proof to a certain level. 10$/feet,20$ worth of LEDs there.

      Hope I answered everything

  9. Hirudinea says:

    Very nice, just a few suggestion, split the air tube in two for more even distrubtion, put some wood on the top and bottom (for looks and to hide some stuff), use a wine airlock to release the air if you seal the top and put a cup of bleach in the water, your not going to drink it, right?

  10. Jesse says:

    As long as you keep it out of the sun it should theoretically never need any sort of chlorine or any other chemical. I know of a childrens museum exhibit and I asked the maintenance guy how they kept the water clear and he said they don’t do anything except add water when it gets low. It was very similar to this in construction. It even had bubbles just like this.

  11. Whatnot says:

    Do they make aquarium pumps that aren’t annoyingly noisy yet? Because they often call them ‘silent’ but the drone is enough to drive me up the wall.

  12. nice effect, but it is rather static I think. How hard would it be to combine this effect with sound, to make some sort of non-flaming ruebens-tube? Make the tube a little larger, make its holes at the bottom side, and attach a speaker to the tube. Add just enough air pressure so that the bubbles form in a tiny even stream. When you add music, it will form standing and running wave patterns of pressure in the tube, which will enlarge or eliminate the bubbles forming at specific places. If they rise up through something more viscous like oil, you get some sort of spectrum analyser effect?

  13. fred says:

    OK, any water, fresh, salt, chlorinated tap will grow something if exposed to any appreciable sunlight.

    I would suggest a dash of iodine, and the silver/colloidal silver sounds like a plan. Maybe some high alkaline borax?

    Best ideas is to make sure you make it easy to empty/refill.

  14. dez says:

    Find yourself a little bit of liquid copper (USA – Pristine Clean CANADA-Blue Magic or blue stone from a ranch supply) and literally put about a teaspoon in there. Water will stay clear as long as its filled. Think of all the pennies left inside the fountains in the malls and how clear they are!

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