Cubelight

Brightly lit cube in dark room

LightCube

Brainstorming

The prompt given for this project was left intentionally vague: the only requirements were that the end product needed to both produce light and be portable. I decided to pursue an Arduino-based controllable RGB LED light housed in a diffuse acrylic box. This allowed for the ability to practice physical fabrication with the band saw and drill as well as programming for NodeJS/WiFi. The wifi control didn’t end up working out in the end, but its absence is compensated for in the final product with the inclusion of a clickable dial on the side of the device.

Notebook entry with sketches of possible projects

Construction

My first thought when approaching this phase was to rummage through the junk shelf and unclaimed materials for anything that might be of use in creating the cube, particularly something that could help diffuse the light. As luck would have it there was a massive amount of white, partially transparent, diffuse acrylic sitting on the ‘unclaimed’ shelf! I also picked up some flexible mirrored material and light balsa wood in case they would be needed later.

Creating the cube was a simple combination of band sawing and glue. The harder part of the fabrication was figuring out how to fit everything inside (I didn’t think it through enough beforehand). The original plan was to fit the Arduino and a few LEDs at the bottom of the cube with a battery and wifi module. Unfortunately a combination of space constraints, a shattered base, and broken LEDs changed the plan to a side-mounted Arduino with an external battery and a single LED facing to the side.

Putting everything together now, I connected all the wiring, cut a new base, and attached an LED. I started to feel a bit more rushed at this stage and thus started to use tape on a few unseen interior surfaces, notably to hold the LED breadboard in place above the Arduino. It was at this point that the LED itself started to act out and jammed the blue LEDs at full no matter the input signal. It’s still usable as a portable LED, but it won’t have the full color features I was hoping for.

Brightly lit cube in dark room