Making an LED matrix out of glue sticks
Glue sticks are great for attaching electronics and other bits to projects, but as Jon Bumstead shows in his latest work, they can also make pretty cool light diffusers.
His project takes the form of a wooden box with plexiglass panels, allowing observers to see 64 vertical illuminated glue sticks inside. Hidden within the cube are 128 WS2811 LED modules, melted into the top and bottom of each stick.
Everything is built around an Arduino Nano, using only a pair of its outputs to control each LED. User interface is provided by a button and knob to adjust speed, color, and patterns.
In this project, I created a “fiber optic” LED matrix using WS2801 LED strip and glue sticks. The light displays have a different look than similar LED cubes and a few advantages. First, you can’t see the actual LEDs in the display because the glue sticks guide the light away from the LEDs. Second, the device requires much fewer LEDs to make up the volume. Because the top and bottom have different LED strips, the fiber optic cables can take on two different colors that mix in the center. There are tons of different color displays that can be achieved with the device. I also added a button and knob for controlling the speed, color, and type of light display.