In 2020, [Eddie] found himself with a few hundred RGB LEDs left after a pandemic-interrupted project, and a slew of emotions he wanted to express – so he turned to the language of hardware, and started sculpting his feelings into an art project. He set out to build an LED tree around a piece of wood he picked for its cool shape, and trying out a long-shelved idea of his, while at it – using different resistors to mix colors of the RGB LEDs. The end result, pictured above, has earned “The Most Important Device” spot in our recent Sci-Fi contest, fair and square.
Initially, he wanted to use ATTiny microcontrollers and PWM all the lights in parallel. Having built an intermediate prototype, a small LED flower, he scrapped the idea due to technical problems, and then simplified it by hard-wiring RGB LEDs with randomly selected colors instead. As for the glowing orbs themselves, he made these just by pouring hot glue into silicon orb molds, a simple technique any of us could repeat. After 90 hours of work between him and an assistant he hired, the LEDs were wired up, each with random resistors connected to green and blue LED colors, and some warm white LEDs added into the mix.
He wanted to mostly use blue and green colors, as symbols of a world revived and revitalized – something we can’t help but keep our fingers crossed for. Before putting it all together, they wouldn’t know which colors each of the LEDs would power up in – part of the charm for this art piece, and no doubt a pleasant surprise. In the end, it turned out to be a futuristic decoration that we’re glad a camera could capture properly! If you like what you see, the build logs linked above have a bit more insights into how it all came together.
LED-adorned plants are fun projects that bring joy for a long time after you’ve finished them. You can easily make a LED tree out of what you have on hand, and if you get real fancy, you can create an intricate bonsai, too. And, if you’re ever interested to experiment with castellations, you can design yourself some PCB cube flowers!
It’s no secret that we really like circuit sculptures around here, and we never tire of seeing what creative ways people come up with to celebrate the components used to make a project, rather than locking them away in an enclosure. And a circuit sculpture that incorporates sound and light in its design is always a real treat to discover.
Called “cwymriad” by its designer, [Eirik Brandal], this sound sculpture incorporates all kinds of beautiful elements. The framework is made from thick pieces of acrylic, set at interesting angles to each other and in contrasting colors. The sound-generating circuit, which uses square wave outputs from an ESP32 to provide carrier and modulation signals for a dual ring modulator, is built on a framework of tinned wires. The sounds the sculpture makes have a lovely resonance to them, like random bells and chimes that fade and mix together. There’s also a matrix of white LEDs that form a sort of digital oscilloscope that displays shifting waveforms in time with the music.
While we like the way this looks and sounds, the real bonus here is the details of construction in the video below. [Eirik]’s careful craftsmanship working with multiple materials is evident throughout; we were especially impressed by the work needed to drill holes for the LED matrix, any one of which slightly out of place would have been painfully obvious in the finished product.
“LEDs improve everything.” Words to live by. Most everything that Debra Ansell of [GeekMomProjects] makes is bright, bold, and blinky. But if you’re looking for a simple string of WS2812s, you’re barking up the wrong tree. In the last few years, Debra has been making larger and more complicated assemblies, and that has meant diving into the mechanical design of modular PCBs. In the process Debra has come up with some great techniques that you’ll be able to use in your own builds, which she shared with us in a presentation during the 2021 Hackaday Remoticon.
She starts off with a quick overview of the state of play in PCB art, specifically of the style that she’s into these days: three dimensional constructions where the physical PCB itself is a sculptural element of the project. She’s crossing that with the popular triangle-style wall hanging sculpture, and her own fascination with “inner glow” — side-illuminated acrylic diffusers. Then she starts taking us down the path of creating her own wall art in detail, and this is where you need to listen up. Continue reading “Remoticon 2021 // Debra Ansell Connects PCB In Ways You Didn’t Expect”→
The host of the show is the ESP32 module, which generates audio frequency square waves, which are fed into a MCP4251 digital potentiometer. From there, it is fed into a AS3320 Voltage controlled filter (VCF), from Latvia-based ALFA (which is new to us, despite them being manufacturing electronics for sixty years!) This is an interesting device that has a four independently configurable filter elements with voltage controlled inputs for frequency control and resonance. The output from the VCF is then fed into a 6n2p (Soviet equivalent to the 12ax7) twin-triode vacuum tube, which is specifically aimed at audio applications.
The suitably distorted filtered square waves then pass into a Princeton Tech Corp PT2399 echo processor chip, which being digitally constructed, uses the expected ADC/RAM/DAC signal chain to implement an audio echo effect. As with the VCF, the echo depth can be modulated via the digipot, under the ESP32’s command. For a bit of added bling, the vacuum tube output feeds back into the ESP32, to be consumed by the internal ADC and turned into a light show via some PWM controlled LEDs. Lovely.
The final audio output from the echo chip is then fed into a speaker via a pair of LM380 amplifiers giving a power of about 5 W. It sounds pretty good if you ask us, and software configurable via Wi-Fi, giving this sculpture plenty of tweakabilty.
If you’ve ever used an old tube radio, you might be familiar with that mysterious little green display that helps you to tune exactly to a station. That display is called a tuning indicator, or magic eye tube; in essence it’s a minimalistic cathode ray tube that can sweep its electron beam along only one axis. It thereby outputs a kind of bar graph that varies with the input voltage.
With few modern uses other than being pretty, it only makes sense that these tubes find their way into works of art: [Patrice] used one to make an insect-like piece of circuit sculpture. The tube he used is an EM34, which is one of the most common indicator tubes around and has a circular, iris-like display area. This becomes a large eye, peering forward from the bug’s body. The legs are made from 1.5 mm thick brass wire, while a DC/DC converter generates the 210 Volts DC needed to operate the tube.
An interesting “touch” is the addition of two antennae that are hooked up in such a way that the tube’s image changes when you push them; this interactivity makes the bug come alive a little bit. Speaking of touch, we think it would be prudent to put some insulation around the 210 V wires; even though the bug is battery-powered, touching the high voltage and ground wires simultaneously would deliver a nasty shock.
BEAM robotics, which stands for Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics, and Mechanics, is an ethos that focuses on building robots with simple analog circuits. [NanoRobotGeek] built a great example of the form, creating a light-tracking robot that uses no batteries and no microcontrollers.
The robot aims to track the brightest source of light it can see. This is achieved by feeding signals from four photodiodes into some analog logic, which then spits out voltages to the two motors that aim the robot, guiding it towards the light. There’s also a sound-detection circuit, which prompts the robot to wiggle when it detects a whistle via an attached microphone.
The entire circuitry is free-formed using brass wire, and the result is an incredibly artful build. Displayed in a bell jar, the build looks like some delicate artifact blending the past and future. Neither steampunk nor cyberpunk, it draws from both with its combination of vintage brass and modern LEDs.
It’s a great build that reminds us of some of the great circuit sculptures we’ve seen lately. Video after the break.
Circuit sculpture is engineering and art all at play together. One must combine the functional with the aesthetically appealing. [EdwardA61] did just that with this enchanting lamp build.
Like many other circuit sculptures, the build relies on the aesthetic qualities of brass, though [EdwardA61] notes that copper wire can be used as well. Four WS2812B LEDs, in their bare PCB-mount form, are soldered into a circuit using the brass to carry the power and data signals as needed.
A Seeduino Xiao microcontroller is responsible for controlling the show, though relies on a typical PCB rather than a circuit sculpture in and of itself. It does provide for easy powering and programming however, with the benefit of its USB-C connector.
It’s a simple skeleton design, as so many circuit sculptures are, but it’s a form that we’ve come to love and appreciate. [EdwardA61] did a great job of photographing the build, too, showing how the colors on each LED interplay with each other as they’re cast on the table.
It’s a lamp we’d love to build ourselves, and we hope that [EdwardA61] follows through on plans to cast a similar design in clear resin, as well. If you’ve built your own artistically electrical sculptures, be sure to let us know!