With school just about out for the summer, Brian Fitzgerald’s son was throwing a party to celebrate the end of exam week. Like any cool Maker dad would, he decided to build awesome lights made out of a few old soda bottles, the “gooey innards” of glow sticks, and some other supplies he had lying around the basement.
Fitzgerald used a wooden plate for the base and a playground post bracket for the mount, along with an Arduino Leonardo (though any Arduino would do) and three NeoPixel rings for the colorful effects.
Fill the Coke bottles with water. Alternatively, you can add a drop of milk to get a cloudy effect — it makes the liquid translucent and gives the impression of solid light, but you loose the little bubble and scratch effects that clear water highlights, which we thought was cooler. We put a black Sugru cap on the bottles to avoid a drunken accident involving water and electronics. And filled the countersunk bolt holes with Sugru to hide the bolt heads as well.
I attached the plastic Arduino casing with double-sided velcro to the base unit for easy removal. It’d look nicer if I’d put the whole unit inside the base, but as we’re planning to pull the board out and modify for music sensitivity, I opted for convenience over beauty. If anybody has any cool Arduino code that gets an Adafruit auto-gain mic and NeoPixels jamming via FFT, I’d love to see it. There are some great color organ projects out there, but I can’t seem to find this particular combo. So we may have to write it ourselves!
Plug the 9v wall wart into the Arduino and BOOM. You got yourself a classic party light that’s mesmerizing to look at, throws patterns on the ceiling that look like Hubble images of distant nebulae, a fine conversation piece, and a bunch of cast off junk transformed into a thing of beauty.
Intrigued? You can check out the entire project on Instructables, as well as see it in action below.