Building an LED Source for a Fiber Optic Ring Light

fiberMicroscope

[Peter] has finished up his fiber optic microscope light source. When we last visited [Peter] he created a dimmer circuit for a 10 watt LED. That LED driver has now found its final home in [Peter's] “Franken-ebay scope”, a stereo microscope built from parts he acquired over several years. Stereo microscopes scopes like these are invaluable for working on surface mount parts, or inspecting PCB problems. [Peter] had the fiber optic ring and whip, but no light source. The original source would have been a 150W Halogen lamp. The 10 watt led and driver circuit was a great replacement, but he needed way to interface the LED to the fiber whip. Keeping the entire system cool would be a good idea too.

This was no problem for [Peter], as he has access to a milling machine. He used an old CPU heat sink from his junk box as the base of the light source. The heat sink was drilled and tapped for the LED. The next problem was the actual fiber whip interface. For this, [Peter] milled a custom block from aluminum bar stock. The finished assembly holds the LED, driver, and the fiber whip. A sheet metal bracket allows the entire assembly to be mounted on the microscope’s post.  We have to admit, if we were in [Peter's] place, we would have gone with a cheap LED ring light. However, the end result is a very clean setup that throws a ton of light onto whatever [Peter] needs magnified.

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Color multiplexing through fiber optics

If you want to go high bandwidth, fiber optics is the way to go. From trans-oceanic cables to the yet-unseen ‘fiber to every home,’ fiber optics allows a lot more bandwidth than a copper cable. In low-bandwidth applications, fiber optic cable transmits data using one color of light. There’s a way to get more bandwidth out of a fiber optic cable, as [Shahriar] found out while experimenting with an RGB LED.

For his experiment, [Shahriar] used a BlinkM programmable RGB LED and a Sparkfun color sensor. In fiber optic lines with one light, it is possible to send many simultaneously using PWM, but noise becomes a problem at high data rates. Using an RGB LED, [Shahriar] sends three levels of Red, Green, and Blue to transmit 9 bits at a time – perfect for sending a byte with a parity check in one quick light burst.

[Shahriar]‘s technique is exactly how the pros pump massive amounts of data through a single fiber optic cable. All the tools, code, and MATLAB functions are available on [Shahriar]‘s site, ready to be used by anyone wanting to experiment for themselves.

In the video after the break, [Shahriar] breaks everything down, including the tools, theory, and actual circuits. It’s an amazing video demo, so thorough we’re wondering if [Shahriar] has any teaching ambitions.

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Awesome fiber optic LED Viking helmet

octobrite_led_mohawk_helmet

[Garrett] over at MaceTech was approached by a friend who needed a light-up mohawk installed on a Viking helmet, and he needed it ASAP.

Now, [Garrett] does tons of work with LEDs but it’s not every day you are asked to construct a sound-responsive LED mohawk. He had all sorts of LEDs and other bits on hand, but finding the fiber optics that would make up the mohawk itself took a bit of time.

After a bit of searching, he located some cheap bulk fiber optic toy wands, and got busy cutting them apart to remove the fiber bundles. The fibers were glued into a laser cut plastic assembly, where they were paired with a handful of OctoBrite CYANEA modules [Garrett] had on hand. He bought a handful of components from SparkFun, including an Arduino Pro Mini to control the device, as well as an electret mic and graphic equalizer chip to handle the audio input/filtering.

He wrapped up the code portion of the mohawk and handed it off to his friend, who says that the “helmet is +99 to epic awesomeness”, which sounds like a ringing endorsement to us.

[via BuildLounge]

Check out the video below to see the fiber optic mohawk helmet in action.

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Wireless fiber optic mood lighting

ceiling_mounted_starfield

There’s something calming about looking up into the night sky and seeing an array of shining stars off in the distance. [Marou] is a big fan of stargazing, but sometimes conditions are not optimal, so he decided to bring the stars inside.

His idea was to build a ceiling lamp that didn’t bask the room with light, but rather one that reproduced the peaceful twinkle of the night sky. He covered a wooden table with dark fabric and drilled a ton of tiny holes into the surface. He fitted the holes in the table with two big bundles of optical fibers since one bundle couldn’t quite cover the entire thing.

To light the cables, he built a pair of 4-LED illuminators, which contain red, blue, green, and white LEDs. Each light source is controlled via an Arduino which takes its direction from [Marou’s] infrared remote.

While the idea isn’t new, the implementation is pretty cool. At first we were expecting a small lamp, but anchoring an entire table to the ceiling as a light panel is definitely something we hadn’t seen before.

If you want to build something similar in your own living room, [Marou’s] Arduino code is free for the taking.

Digitizing player piano rolls

What do you do with 100 player piano rolls but no player piano? You come up with a way to digitize the information for MIDI playback. The rolls have 90 columns worth of holes, 88 for the keys and two more for pedals. Voids in the paper cause a note or pedal to be played, so an optical sensor can be used to transform the analog data into digital information. Simple enough, you’ll just need 90 sensors. But this brings up quite an alignment issue. The solution is to use fiber optic cable to position the IR light source in a hand-made 0.2″ spaced jig. At least the spacing meshes nicely with standard 0.1″ protoboard, which is what was used for mounting the sensors.

[Thanks Mike]

Creating art from an old Christmas tree

So you manged to get a great deal on a fake tree during the after Christmas sales, but what should you do with your old one? If it was lighted with fiber optics you can reuse the strands to create your own star map. [Mr Trick] shows how to disassemble one of these trees, grouping the fibers by length. He built a wood frame, then covered it with a layer of cardboard and another of black fabric. From there the painstaking process of routing the fibers in a way to looks convincing starts.[Mr Trick's] final product uses multiple LED light sources and even includes RF control.

Think this project is large and time-consuming? Check out the same idea built into a bedroom ceiling.

Remote operated underwater vehicle

PVC hull, SLA batteries, Bilge Pumps, sounds like a good start to [Jimmy's] ROV project. Paintball gun (as a BCD), dual live cameras paired with an Arduino making it internet controlled, all tethered with a fiber optic cable, sounds like [Jimmy's] ROV got a whole lot more astounding.

While some very important parts have yet to be implemented, like the leak detectors, the project looks to be going quite smoothly. With updates promised, we can’t wait to watch this continue until the end.

Related: Yellow Subs and double ROVs