For my digital fabrication class I was making a luminaire (light installment) and wanted to zazz it up a bit by making it do more than just turn on and off. I was inspired by the bioluminescence of sea life and wanted to replicate that liquidy kinetic motion to my light. for the form I fabricated a frame loosely based off of whale shark dimensions-hence the name.
I started researching shapes and light sequences of different deep sea creatures, trialed different materials for the light frame (copper patina looks great but doesnt work well with leds), and started playing with different shapes for the light to be.
Once settled on a shape for the frame, I drafted the shape in rhino. It didnt have to be perfect since the light would be covered with mylar strips anyway.
Then the plugin grasshopper takes the shape and makes ribs out of it to waffle together. after the shapes were made I went back to rhino to layout the shape of the objects in a file that the laser cutter can recognize…which leads to this.
For diffusers I wanted to use mylar because it is easy to work with and doesnt change the colors of the led through diffusion. For this I literally traced certain shapes from images of sea creatures and cut them by hand from mylar sheets.
Thankfully there are tons of resources on different DIY led projects, so I had a tone of code to borrow from, as well as the NeoPixel library. I got theatre lighting, color wheel, chase sequence, and fade to white functions all from different sources and combined them. Wiring the arduino is ease itself, just power, ground, and data lines connected and bingo. Be sure to get and led strip that is adressable otherwise it cant be programmed.
For power requirements, I only needed a 5V ac->dc adapter that plugs into any socket.
For connections I just glued a platform within the ribs to hold the arduino and attached the mylar sheets to the frame itself with double sided tape (wish I could have come up with a cleaner looking option) after affixing the led strip in a helix shape through the interior of the ribs with fishing line.
To finish it off I just plugged everything in, hung it up with a wire, and watch the different patterns play.