LED lights are beautiful. Many LED lights lighting in various random – and not so random – patterns are even better. And many LED lights driven by a tiny chip that you can program with Arduino… what more can you ask?
A copper wire and LED sculpture
I built the various LED sculptures you can see on this page over the last few years, for friends and family. They are all made with the same “rough” look, using copper wire, warm white LEDs, and they all use a tiny microcontroller which is programmed to randomly display lots of illumination patterns. All electronic components are soldered “dead bug” style, with no circuit board.
Those sculptures are designed to run all the time, some of them have been powered on for years! They use very little power – you can use any reclaimed USB or phone charger that outputs 5 volts to power them. LED intensity is enough for a well lit room during the day, but not so bright that you would want to switch them off at night. All illumination patterns can be easily adjusted or new patterns can be created on request…
Playing with the lighting program
It is very easy to modify the program of those lamps/sculptures. You just need the Arduino development environment, an AVR programmer such as the USB TinyISP and a couple of EZ Hook clips. The 20 LEDs are driven using just five lines, using a technique called “Charlieplexing”.