Today was a day to further the napkin plan for this off the shelf project. Project14 | Off the Shelf: Take a Project Off the Shelf and Start Working on It! With the aid of a pencil and paper, I loosely broke the tasks down into five areas.


LED pattern: what pattern of holes will best simulate a fireworks burst? I plan on laying out some fireworks burst patterns, using Inkscape graphic software tools to get an idea. Easier to do it on computer than by hand. How many bursts, how many LED per bursts and how many fibre-optic strands should be used are a few design considerations I'm thinking about at this point. I have a limited number of strands in the lamp so the count is important.


Light source build: There is a stock of common cathode RGB LEDs and plastic styrene tubing kicking around. Using a superglue as a bonding agent, I’m looking to bundle fibre optic strands into the tube and glue the assembly to the LED. Truth be told, I bundled a few strands into a small tube and glued a white LED into the tube as a proof of concept and it worked! The RGB LED's are much bigger but I have the tubing to accommodate.


Display panel: The plan is to drill holes through some fibre board using the defined patterns. After the patterns are in place, weave the fibre-optic strands through the holes. Mount the LED’s and glue the strands in place. The tasks sounds simple but labour intensive! Drilling small hole is a bitch, I've done it before. Let’s see what comes out of the burst patterns design first.


Electronics: Design a method to consolidate the LED’s connections, install limiting resistors and a connections back to controller.  The assembly has to fit behind the display panel so it can be installed in the layout. I'm all about ease of troubleshooting especially on something that hasn't been prototyped to resolve bugs.


Controller: Raspberry Pi and Arduino are the two controller solutions I am looking at. With a little bit of code on either I should be able to light some LED's. I’m hoping one of the choices will flush its self out as I work through the other tasks. I’m leaning towards the Pi because I have some strengths in that area. Right now I require the pattern, so I can determine the number of LEDs enabling me to resolve the GPIO count needed.


Scope Creep: I just threw this task in. I hated it happening when I worked, but hey this is my project so I will let the scope creep. I found an LED assembly in a box of parts while I was hunting up some materials. I figure someone bought it thinking it might come in handy. It is a 12 inch strip of LED's that lights sequentially one after the other when you push the button. Just needs a power source. It looks like it was designed for customizing a vehicle.  I'm thinking it could be the fireworks shooting into the sky followed by the bursts. Got to add input switch as a requirement if I use it.


Lots of stuff to do but the burst pattern seem to be the priority. Once the pattern is finalized I can begin to work out the finer details. Some remorse creeped in. Why am I doing this with individual LED's, I could have purchased a LED matrix and made life easier. Oh yeah, I didn't have a LED Matrix sitting around on the shelf. Back to the fibre-optic lamp.


I hope to blogs the above tasks documenting the activity along with some supporting pics. Being retired gives me great flexibility on the amount of time I have to work on this over the next few days. I will keep you posted.