Plinko-Like Build Takes Advantage Of Wireless LEDs

Imagine if you had some magic glowing beads, that would emit beautiful colors without any wires tangling them up. They exist, in the form of wireless induction-powered LEDs, and [Debra] of Geek Mom Projects has been experimenting with them in a new way.

The build takes the wireless LEDs and wraps each one up in a 1/4″-thick clear ring of acrylic. This toughens up the LEDs and helps diffuse their light. They’re then installed in a hexagonal plastic container, featuring a grid of screws not unlike the metal pins of the game Plinko. Thanks to the induction coil mounted behind, the LEDs glow as they ricochet around the metal pins in various ways.

We’d love to see the container full of LEDs mounted on a slowly-turning motor, such that they would tumble around endlessly, glowing all the while. It would be quite mesmerizing, in much the same way as the kaleidoscope project [Debra] built using these parts previously. Video after the break.

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LED Kaleidoscope Uses Induction Power Magic

The kaleidoscope was first invented back in the early 1800s, with the curio known for showing compelling psychedelic patterns as light passes through colored glass and is reflected by mirrors in a tube. [Debra] of Geek Mom Projects recently gave the classic toy a thoroughly modern twist with her own build. (Thread Reader Link).

[Debra]’s kaleidoscope still relies on the typical mirror-tube construction to create reflections upon reflections which generate symmetrical patterns for the viewer. However, instead of colored glass beads lit by external light, she replaced these with so-called “wireless LEDs.” These little bead-like LEDs are fitted with small coils that allow them to be inductively powered without wires when they are placed in the magnetic field generated by a powered coil.┬áThus, [Debra]’s kaleidoscope works day or night, even in a dark room, since the light is coming from the little beady LEDs themselves.

It’s a great demonstration of wireless LED technology; there’s something almost magical about the tiny free-moving glowing beads. If you don’t want to buy them off the shelf, you can even make your own! Video after the break.

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Wireless LEDs Aren’t Really Magic

[Atomic14] bought some wireless LEDs that receive power from a base station. They were very neatly packaged, but — we like it — he took one apart and made his own versions. They may not look as polished, but they work and they are undeniably cool.

The LEDs work by receiving power from an induction coil. Once you have power, lighting up an LED is no big deal. Reverse engineering found the transmitter sends 217 kHz into a 2.2 mH inductor. A capacitor resonates the coil and drives the attached LED.

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Wireless LEDs Aren’t A First, But You Can Make Your Own

Wireless LEDs. That’s what [Scotty Allen] found in Japan, and if you find something you just have to replicate it.

[Scotty] found these wireless LEDs in a display stand for model makers and gunpla. Because you don’t want to run wires, drill holes, and deal with fiber optics when illuminating plastic models, model companies have come up with wireless LEDs. Just glue them on, and they’ll blink. It requires a base station, but these are wireless LEDs.

After buying a few of these LEDs and sourcing a base station, [Scotty] found the LEDs were three components carefully soldered together: an inductor, two caps, and the LED itself. The base station is simply two coils and are effectively a wireless phone charger. Oh, some experimentation revealed that if you put one of these wireless LEDs on a wireless phone charger it’ll light up.

The next step is of course replication, so [Scotty] headed out to Akihabara and grabbed some wire, resistors, and LEDs. The wire was wrapped into a coil, a LED soldered on, and everything worked. This is by no means the first DIY wireless LED, as with so many technologies this too hit fashion first and you could buy press-on nails with embedded wireless LEDs for years now. Check out the video below.

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