When you consider traditional fiber optic strands, these are normally thin and clear, engineered to allow light to travel long distances with little interference. This hack, however, provides a different spin on this tech, using semi-translucent glue sticks as a light transfer medium. Instead of allowing it to pass easily from one point to another, these sticks diffuse the light applied at the top and bottom of each tube.
An Arduino Nano powers 128 WS2811 LED modules that produce this light, and because of the way these amazing devices work, control is accomplished with only two digital outputs — and could be reduced to one in a pinch. A potentiometer acts as the user interface for lighting patterns, while a single button enables creator Jon Bumsteadto switch these effects as needed.
Physically, the build is cut out of wood with a laser, and supports each of the 64 glue sticks with a series of aligned holes. The “light box” also features a plexiglass viewing window on all four sides, making it appear like some sort of strange aquarium, or perhaps an “advanced device” that you’d find in a science fiction movie. Actually attaching the LEDs to the glue sticks was quite clever in itself, as the inside of the ends were melted with a glue gun, forming a molten cone in which to push them in.
The result is a very colorful and clean display; be sure to check it out in the video below!