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.

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[Brainsmoke] had a simple plan. Make a quadcopter with lots of addressable LEDs.

Not just a normal quadcopter with ugly festoons of LED tape though. [Brainsmoke] wanted to put his LEDs in a ball. Thus was born the polyhedrone, the idea of a flying deltoidal hexecontahedron covered as you might expect with all those addressable LEDs.

polyhedrone-PCB-kicadA Catalan solid makes a good choice for the homebrew polyhedron builder because its faces are all identical. Thus if you are making PCBs to carry LEDs, for example, you need only create a single PCB design to use on all faces. A bit of work in KiCAD, and a single face design with interlocking edges was ready. The boards were tested, a wiring layout was worked out, and the polyhedron was assembled.

But [Brainsmoke] didn’t stop there. He produced a flight case for the polyhedron, in the form of a larger polyhedron from what looks like lasercut thin ply.

Having a finished polyhedron, the next thing was to hook up a Raspberry Pi and write some software. First in Python, then in Go.

polyhedrone-light-1The results are simply stunning. If the mathematics and construction of a polyhedron were not enough to make this project worth a second look, then the gallery of images should be enough. You’ll notice that this is ostensibly a quadcopter project, yet no mention of flying has been made on this page. That’s because this is still a work in progress at Tech Inc Amsterdam, and there is more to come. But it honestly doesn’t matter if this project never moves a millimeter off the ground, as far as we are concerned [Brainsmoke] has created a superbly built thing of beauty in its own right, and we like that.

As you might expect, this is just the latest of many projects featured here that have involved addressable LEDs or quadcopters. Of note among them is this LED polyhedron that cleverly closes in all its bits, and this LED-equipped quadcopter that generates very pleasing patterns with a hi-res cross of pixels.

Electronic Die Rolls Up To 100

If you’re gaming on the road, or just don’t have a die with the right number of sides on hand, an electronic polyhedral die will be quite handy. [Marcus] built this using a printed circuit board of his own design, and we think an electronically simple project like this is a great way to get your feet wet with PCB fab house techniques. He suggests Seeed Studios’ service, or the DorkBotPDX group PCB order. But this would not be a hard project to build on perfboard as well.

The concept is simple. A two-digit 7-segment display shows the value of the top face of your die. when it’s time to roll, just pick up the box and tip it over. A tilt switch senses this action and rolls the die by displaying the next pseudo-random number. The single button, seen here with a pyramid die glued to it, lets you select between die with different number of sides; from 2 (like a coin flip) all the way up to 100.

We like [Marcus’] projects. He’s the same guy that built a scoring system in a game storage box.