Springs And Things Wrap Into A Polyhedron Of Interactive LED Art

Any resemblance between The Wobble Sphere and a certain virus making the rounds these days is purely coincidental. Although as yet another project undertaken during the COVID-19 lockdowns, we can see where the inspiration came from.

Wobble Sphere is another work of interactive art from the apparently spring-driven imagination of [Robin Baumgarten], whose Quantum Garden piece graced our pages last year. The earlier, flatter version used a collection of spring door stops — the kind that sound awesome when plucked by a passing foot — each of which is surrounded by a Neopixel ring. The springs act as touch sensors that change the patterns and colors on the LED rings in endlessly fascinating ways.

For Wobble Sphere, [Robin] took the same spring and LED units, broke them into a collection of hexagonal and pentagonal PCBs, and wrapped the whole thing up into a 72-sided polyhedron. There’s some impressive mechanical and electrical engineering involved in the transition from 2D to 3D space, not least of which is solving the problem of how to connect everything while providing pluck-friendly structural support. The former was accomplished with a ton of ribbon cables, while the latter was taken care of with a combination of a 3D-printed skeleton and solder connections between adjacent PCBs. The result is a display that invites touch and rewards it with beautiful patterns of light chasing around the sphere. See it in action in the video after the break.

Lest anyone think springs are the only tool in [Robin]’s box, we mustn’t forget that he once set a knife-wielding Arduino-powered game on an unsuspecting public. Check it out; it’s way more fun than it sounds.

6 thoughts on “Springs And Things Wrap Into A Polyhedron Of Interactive LED Art

    1. IDK if it was meant to be a cat toy, but a stray that adopted us, got real fond of this clear silicone thing, looking much like the above that had flashy lights in, and she used to carry it round the house with her. You knew when she was planning to go settle in another room, rather than take a quick pee or grab a sip of water or something, because she’d pick it up and take it with her. Sometimes just lie there just rolling it from one paw to the other for hours. She was most put out when the battery ran out, before we could find another one, she’d chewed it open, then dropped it in her water dish overnight. Pro-tip, don’t let cats attempt to maintain electronics. It was too chewed and wet to try putting another battery in. She never took to any of the other toys we bought her and we didn’t find another one the same.

    2. Lol, if you read about the other projects this was developed from you’ll find the controller was inspired by a video of a cat playing with a door stopper. I can’t wait to see the games he comes up with. The 1D dungeon crawler on a LED strip actually looked pretty fun.

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