I have wanted to work with LED’s for a long time so for my project I will be making an LED rotating ball.  It’ll be a challenge for me as I have very little circuit and coding experience, but I am motivated to do well on this project.  When I first saw an LED ball I was entranced and thought it was one of the coolest things I have ever seen.  My goal is that my project will have similar reactions.

The LED ball will consist of 3 LED’s and 3 motors all controlled by an Arduino.  The three motors will provide three axis of rotation and the LED’s will be used to create different effects.  I will also be using buttons to control the flashing speeds of the LED’s, a potentiometer to control the brightness of the LED’s, and buttons to turn on and off each motor.  If I have the time and capability I would like to use RGB LED’s and have controls to change the color scheme.

My inspiration is basically the LED aesthetic, and more specifically a video showing an LED ball.

There are a few changes and additions I would like to make to my own LED ball.  First I will be using an Arduino to control the LED’s and motors, and have a cleaner control panel.  I am also hoping to use RGB LED’s so that the user is able to control the color scheme of the ball.  If I have the time I would like to make the LED’s sound responsive so that they pulse with music.  This guy also used wood and soldered metal for the frame and supports and I’m thinking of 3D printing some of the frame.

This project will be a challenge for me as I have very little coding or electronics experience, but there are many resources online and at CU.  I have already checked out an Arduino kit from Dan to get a head start on tinkering with the code and have found tutorials on Lynda.com and elsewhere for RGB and DC motor control.  I have found the code is not too difficult for this application, but the challenge for me will be the actual building of the device.  I will be seeking help from Dan and Tim in the ITLL.

I was envisioning this project to be in three stages.  First stage will be prototyping the smaller frame and use one motor to spin the LED’s to create a light disk.  From there I will just keep adding one motor at a time, working my way up to three motors.

It is very difficult to create a timeline for this project as Senior Design is taking up a lot of my time.

  • Order materials this weekend (Arduino starter kit, additional LED’s, small DC motors, potentiometers, additional push buttons) Estimated cost of $150
  • Design smaller support structure, draw up circuit
  • Circuit testing
  • Prototype with first motor and test
  • Prototype with second motor after first motor works and test
  • Prototype with third motor and test
  • Design and assemble control panel, most likely with engraved acrylic



Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sO2-tqoyGik

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13 Comments. Leave new

  • Ashley Zimmerer
    March 10, 2016 8:46 pm

    This is so cool! I can’t wait to see how yours turns out. It seems like the programming will be a little difficult, but also so worth it. It would be awesome if you could get it to do different patterns based on the beat of different songs. I bet you could use a few different red, green, and blue LEDs if the RGBs end up being a pain.

  • Kenzy O'neill
    March 9, 2016 12:51 pm

    The use of slip rings should be interesting with all of the connections for RGB LEDs. I’m interested to see what materials and aesthetic you choose to use for the base.

  • This video you showed was awesome. I really like how it looks. You can have infinite shapes out of it. You can build a more sturdy project with 3D prints. You might take more time so plan start early. Good luck!

  • Joseph Yoshimura
    March 9, 2016 12:13 pm

    This is so cool! When you first said you were doing an led ball, I thought it would be something a lot more simple and well less interesting. However, now that I’ve seen examples of your project, I can’t wait to see how it looks at the end!

  • Peter Brunsgaard
    March 9, 2016 12:11 pm

    I’ve been perplexed by this LED ball since you showed it to me a few weeks ago! In case you find out that you don’t have enough time in the semester to do the full scope of the project, you could focus on making the first 2 axes work.

  • Thomas Brunsgaard
    March 9, 2016 12:11 pm

    This is an awesome idea. It reminds me of a project that I have seen in the past: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQhBm_EgB0w . It will definitely be challenging to supply power to the spinning components. I am looking forward to seeing this thing go in person!

  • Katie Hortik
    March 9, 2016 12:10 pm

    This looks like an awesome end product. Is this going to be a table piece? It might be cool id it was a hanging piece of some sort?

  • Samantha Maierhofer
    March 9, 2016 12:09 pm

    Awesome idea! Can’t wait to see the end result. I have heard that slip rings can be slightly temperamental, so it might be good to prototype that sooner rather than later just to make sure you can keep the connecting. But overall really cool and can’t wait to see it come together!

  • Cool aesthetic, I look forward to seeing your version of it. Not too sure how well 3D printing parts will work for you.

  • Kevin Martin
    March 9, 2016 12:08 pm

    this is cool! Slip rings are definitely going to be the technical challenge of this project. I’ll be eager to see what approach you take to this!

  • Sean, I love the idea of this. I think that it would be really fun to play around with the coding behind this and make different designs on the sphere. I would definitely make sure that the frame is strong enough if you plan of 3-D printing it.

  • Elyse Skinner
    March 9, 2016 12:05 pm

    This is such a cool project and I can’t wait to see how it looks. It will look so awesome when it is finished and spinning. How large will this ball be do you estimate?

  • Meridith Richter
    March 6, 2016 11:52 pm

    The idea of having the LEDs respond to sound would be a really neat addition to the function of the LED ball. Do you have any ideas on how you would make this happen? I’m assuming there are sensors out there which can react to loud noises etc. Just a quick search I did found some rhythm activated lights which would be a way to make that happen perhaps. Or as the music got louder or faster the lights could change brightness/speed? Very exciting project though, would love to help and can’t wait to see it happen!


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