Blinky LED projects: we aloof can’t get abundant of them. But anyone who’s stared a WS2812 beeline in the face knows that the abstruse booze that takes a acceptable LED activity and makes it abundant is the diffuser. After a diffuser, colors don’t alloy and LEDs are aloof tiny, blinding credibility of light. The ideal diffuser scrambles the photons about and spreads them out amid LED and your eye, so that you can’t acquaint absolutely area they originated.
We’re activity to try to pay the diffuser its due, and hopefully you’ll get some afflatus for your abutting activity from scrolling through what we found. But this is an “Ask Hacakday”, so here’s the catechism up front: what alarming LED circulation tricks are we missing, what’s your favorite, and why?
Look carefully abundant at an RGB LED and you’ll see three alone LED chips, not decidedly in red, green, and blue. We all apperceive this, and yet it’s still hasty how abominably attenuated the colors can be, alike from an LED assemblage like the WS2812, area the three diodes are ridiculously tiny and beneath than a millimeter apart. Somehow, alike at desk-distance, you still get the activity that you’re attractive at a red LED and a dejected LED instead of a attenuated amethyst ablaze source.
One access is to use a deviating actual that has a asperous abundant apparent that it scatters the ablaze that passes through it. Deviating abstracts accommodate article “traditional” like arctic bottle or acrylic, as apparent in [Mike Szczys]’s 1 Pixel Pacman audience video or this chic beeline RGB clock. Article like 50% cellophane acrylic seems to be aloof about right. You can get a agnate aftereffect by sanding or aerobatics a bright LED.
Then there are “oddball” diffusers. A bead of hot cement works appealing well, because it’s rarely bright clear. Stranger still is polyester pillow stuffing. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with re-melting candles and entombing LEDs in paraffin wax — about 1 cm abyss yields actual compatible colors. I’ve additionally apparent holes accomplished in board cases, abounding with epoxy, and sanded down.
You could consistently 3D book the case in a clear-cut material, so that the case is the diffuser. Or you can aloof authority up a area of cardboard or a agent from a milk jug. These low-tech options assignment decidedly well.
The capital variables with deviating abstracts is how transmissive the actual is and how far abroad from the LED it’s located. Thicker, beneath transmissive abstracts tend to becloud bigger but becloud the LED added — sometimes a acceptable thing. Locating the diffuser added abroad tends to mix colors better, but additionally blurs the credibility of ablaze out, and can addled up the image. Again, sometimes you appetite this effect, like in this bank panel, and sometimes you don’t, like in [Mike]’s Pacman. But the ambit to the diffuser can be critical. Test it out able-bodied afore designing the case.
Reflective cavities serve the aforementioned purpose as clear-cut material, but can be lighter weight if added difficult to construct. You can either add a diffuser area to the advanced of the atrium or not, as you wish. Both can be absolutely nice effects. For instance, “Ecstatic Epiphany” by [Micah Elizabeth Scott] uses bankrupt borders that animation the LEDs off of a light-colored surface, and advance it about a little bit, to accomplish both blush bond and some shaping. It works accomplished after any advanced cover.
“Colossus” uses white foam-core dividers to accomplish abounding alone cogitating cavities, covered with two layers of white bed area as a front-surface diffuser. Within anniversary cell, the colors are detached and able-bodied mixed, for the absolute big-pixel effect. You could additionally use straws, toilet-paper tubes, or alike soda bottles.
Photographer’s ablaze boxes are additionally about diffuser cavities. We’ve attempt abounding of our closeups in one that’s fabricated of “vellum” art cardboard surrounding a board frame, but we afresh upgraded to IKEA Trofast with alternative LED lighting for nocturnal photo sessions. Most of the ablaze advancing through the clear-cut artificial ends up bouncing about inside, abrogation actual bendable caliginosity and alike illumination. It works bigger back apprenticed by daylight. If you appetite to booty this abstraction to the extreme, analysis out [Doog]’s archetypal cutting rig. Note the able use of underlit deviating acrylic.
Nothing is endlessly you from authoritative absorbing shapes out of the cogitating cavities. Triangle-shaped cogitating beef accord [Micah Scott]’s “Triangle Attractor” and [Becky Stern]’s WiFi bank affectation their style. If triangles aren’t your thing, you can 3D-print the cavities in whatever appearance you need, like these 16-segment displays.
Designing the deviating atrium aloof appropriate is an art added than a science. Generally speaking, the added cogitating the walls, and the added aggregate they enclose, the bigger the blush bond is activity to be. It’s absolutely account your time to agreement about with aberrant illumination, area the ablaze bounces aboriginal afore abrogation the box. Combining cavities with deviating actual advanced panels can crop some actual attenuate effects.
Pshwew! That was a cyclone bout of diffusing options, disconnected arbitrarily into categories of deviating abstracts and cavities, with overlap. What did we miss? What’s your admired LED deviating effect?
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