Cloud Project: First Lighting & Electronic Test

Maybe I’ve mentioned this already …not sure, but I’ve been working on a method to make my clouds available for purchase. While it may have been enough to simply have them hang from the ceiling I got this wild idea to have them illuminate too. Like storm clouds. Pulsing randomly from within. Well, I’ll spare you an outline of all the steps leading to this moment. Jus’ trust it’s involved. As in making a lot of inquiries, material testing, and refining constructions methods. Okay, so, maybe here’s just one mention.

The above shows test samples from exploring how various sprays might add a sheen to the clouds plus offer some form of protection.

So fast-forward to the present where a conversation with a co-worker, Lukasz (aka “Wu”), lead to a lighting solution. One involving a micro-processor, quarter-size board, two 5mm LED lights, 4.5v power source, on/off switch, and a custom script allowing the lights to pulse randomly.

The above is a very, very early proof where Wu tested the LED limitations, power sources, and the processor ability to deliver the “lightening script.” Well, it wasn’t long after this that Wu had a prototype on a board, featuring now three LED’s, a switch, and three AAA batteries…

…and the processor nestled between hot glued components. We understand the hot glue and electronical tape is “…totally ghetto” as Wu put it. However this version is already out-of -date in contrast to what’s next. Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. So the above shows the prototype before I wrapped the wires. Once that was complete I placed the entire assembly within an existing cloud…

…by essentially cutting it open and carefully inserting the components. It’s kinda hard to see but the black shape, within the cotton of the right, is the on/off switch. So once everything settled into place, and opening closed, the surface was sprayed…

…thereby completing the new look. -From a prototyping standpoint that is. The real test though, before activating the lights, was whether the cloud, being much heavier now, would hang safely. Would the hook hold? Would the string hold? Luckily the answer to all these were “yes.” As you can see here.

-Now it was time to test the lighting hardware! And the only way to communicate how well that went would be to watch this 1-minute video.

That aside, we have a number of improvements to make before these are available for purchase. Specifically…

  • New string material to accomodate the weight of the electronics
  • Switching from 3 AAA batteries to a single 9V
  • Introducing a new, lighter-weight material for the “core” of the clouds
  • Explore methods to easing battery changing
  • Remove the on/off switch in favor of proximity sensor -which will allow users to wave their hands near the cloud to turn one on/off.
  • Improve lightening script by introducing ramping
  • Test alternate cotton colors (e.g. “pink”)

This list amounts to only a few items left to tackle. Regardless, the process has been a complete blast and I’m really looking forward to the next prototype. So stay tuned.

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