Will Netflix’s nostalgic hit Stranger Things be back for a fourth series anytime soon? We could pull out a Ouija board and ask the spirits, but we’d much rather ask closer to the source, i.e. a spirit in the upside down. And you know that the best way to do that is with LEDs — one for each letter of the alphabet so the spirit can spell out their messages.
Although contact with the Demogorgon’s world isn’t likely with [danjovic]’s open-source Stranger Things board, you are guaranteed to get the time spelled out for you every minute, as in, ‘it’s twenty-five (or six) to four’. And if you want to freak out your unwitting friends, you can covertly send messages to it from your phone.
There are two versions now — the original desktop version, and one that hangs on the wall and uses a high-quality photo print for the background. Both use an ESP-01 and an Arduino to help drive the 26 RGB LEDs, and use a DS2321 real-time clock for timing. We love the enameled wiring job on the wall-mount version, but the coolest part has to be dual language support for English and Brazilian Portuguese. You can check out demos of both after the break.
Every numeral has a line down the middle, and the system uses the four quadrants of space around it to display the ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands positions starting in the upper right corner.
[andrei] adapted the system to show time by assigning tens of hours to the thousands quadrant in the bottom left, hours to the hundreds quadrant in the bottom right, tens of minutes in the upper left, and minutes in the top right. The tricky part is that the system has no zero, but [andrei] just darkens the appropriate quadrant to represent zero.
The timekeeping is done with an ESP-01, and there are a total of 31 RGB LEDs including the middle bit, which blinks like a proper digital clock and doubles as a second hand. As usual, [andrei] has provided everything you’d need to build one of these for yourself. We admit that the system would take a little time to learn, but even if you never bothered to learn, this would make a nice conversation piece or focal point for sitting and staring. Take a minute to check it out in action after the break.
Is there any garment so freeing to wear as a skirt, assuming it isn’t skin tight? (Well, unless that’s your thing — we won’t judge.) Skirts and dresses are pretty darn freeing compared to pants, so it’s too bad that most of them come without pockets. And it’s really too bad that pretty much all skirts and dresses come without RGB LEDs that can react to movement. Maybe someday.
Until then, we’ll just have to design our own LED skirt like [makeTVee] and his girlfriend did, and hope that it looks half as good. This skirt has six RGB LED strips running down the front for a total of 120 LEDs. The strips are held in place with hook and loop tape and all the electronics — an Adafruit QT Py, a 6-DOF IMU, and a USB power bank — are tucked into the waistband and can be easily removed when it’s time to wash the skirt. Continuing with the practicality theme, there are no LEDs on the back, though they could easily be added in for getting down on the dance floor.
We really love the fabric choices here. The overlay fabric looks good on its own, but it also does a great job of showing and diffusing the light, while at the same time hiding the LED strips themselves. It’s clear that they took comfort and practicality into consideration and made a wearable that’s truly wearable. [makeTVee] calls this a work in progress, but has already got a few nice animations going, which you can see in the video after the break.
Call us easily amused, but we think it’s pretty amazing what can be done with a microcontroller, some RGB LEDs, and a little bit of plastic. Case in point is [andrei.erdei]’s beautiful and quite approachable fiber optic LED lamp. It’s a desktop-friendly version of a similar piece [andrei] made that is roughly nine times the size of this one and hangs on the wall. The build may be simple, but the product is intricately lovely.
We really like the visual density of this lamp — it’s just the right amount of tubes and strikes a balance between being too sparse and too chaotic. As you might expect, there’s an Arduino and some RGB LED strips involved. But the key to this build is in the 16 pieces of side-glow plastic fiber optic tubing. Side-glow is designed to let light escape along the length of the tube as opposed to end-glow, which is made to minimize light loss from one end to the other like a data pipe. This allows for all sorts of fun effects, and you can watch [andrei.erdei] go slowly and soothingly through the different colors and modes in the demo video after the break. Make sure you watch long enough to see the tubes move like the old Windows 3D pipes screensaver
If you want to waste time in a meaningful way, get yourself an hourglass. It’s simultaneously mesmerizing and terrifying to sit there and watch the seconds slip through the threshold that separates possibility from missed opportunity.
In either vertical orientation, the sand falls as long as there is some in the top. When the hourglass is horizontal, the LEDs settle just like real sand does. [Ty and Gig] achieved this with a whole lot of code that breaks the animation frames into structure arrays.
By contrast, the hardware part of this build is fairly simple: all that’s needed to replicate this build is some RGB LEDs a beefy power supply to drive them, an accelerometer, and a microcontroller.
[Ty and Gig] were planning to use an ESP8266, but misplaced it and went with an Arduino Mega instead. (You know what they say — buy a replacement and the one you lost will turn up almost immediately.) The beautiful frame is made from leftover purpleheart, a hardwood that turns purple with exposure to air. Check out the build video after the break.
There aren’t really any surprises inside — the lamp is operated via capsense by touching the center of the top. Three NeoPixel rings and an RGB LED strip provide the lighting, and an Arduino UNO runs the show. [Qttting_F] used an inexpensive ceramic bowl with a piece of acrylic for a lid, but this could just as easily be printed in white PLA or something. Check it out in action after the break.
When [tnjyoung] was asked to build a huge lighted clock for a high school theater’s production of Cinderella with only two weeks before opening night, he probably wished for a fairy godmother of his own to show up and do it for him. But he and his team pulled it off, and it looks amazing. That medallion in the middle? It was laid out painstakingly by hand, using electrical tape.
This thing is 12 feet wide and weighs more than 500 pounds. Even so, it isn’t a permanent set piece, so it has to move up and down throughout the show on airplane cables. Now for the minutiae: there’s an Arduino Uno with built-in Wi-Fi that receives UDP commands from a phone to raise and lower the clock at the appropriate times. The ‘duino is also controlling two stepper motors, one for the hour hand and one for the minute hand.
Time is almost a minor character in the story of Cinderella, since she has to get back by midnight. Because of this, [tnjyoung] programmed a dozen or so time cues that move the steppers at various speeds to achieve different effects, like time flying by as she dances the night away with the Prince. Hour you still just sitting there? Sweep past the break to watch the build process fly by in a matter of minutes.