Hexagon Light - Early Stages - Brad Ormand

01.02.2015 – New Year & Hexagon Light

Well, it’s the New Year, and I have had time to spend with friends and family, and enjoy the fireworks and winter weather.  It’s an awesome time of year.  And, well, yeah – I have also had some more time off to do projects! (yesss)

Last Wednesday (or so), I woke up just after dreaming about some hexagon patterns and reflecting backlights.   And, also I have traditionally always loved hexagons in art.  My favorite shape has got to be the truncated icosahedron (maybe I’ll do one of those next 😉 )… But, I remember, that day was a day I had completely off and so I started trying to chase the idea.  It was inspired by the Tri-Wing light I did a few weeks ago (and will still implement more of).  But, this time, I wanted a modern hexagon design that had several of those under-lit standoffs on it.  I went around with the ruler and triangle and drew a pattern down and started working out the details of how I’d implement it.  I went to the Home Depot for parts and put in an order to Jameco.

Brad Ormand - Hexagon Light - Early Stages

It was going well.  So, the next couple of days, I started measuring and cutting and planning and making this thing happen.  I plan to make a animated light that hangs on the wall or sits up on a desk.  Each hex will have an RGB LED implanted in it’s center and a cover, stained and painted, on top, shielding direct view.  My hope is that it will glow gladly and gracefully underneath, illuminating the back of the board onto the painting finish I give it.  Also, I’m wanting to see the mix of colors that occur when one mixes with the next.  That’ll be when I decide on the final animations.  Lots of programming and matriX logistiX to figure out, coming up, but it’s actually the fun part – as long as you don’t try to hurry through it and just enjoy the process.

For the electronics, I have already started designing and building the tiny 2 cm^2 circuit boards that will be wired behind each.  18 boards for the lights and drivers, one for the matrix wiring, one for the  MCU, and one for the menu display (or I might combine the last 3, we’ll see, depending on how modular and reusable I wanna get…).  At this moment, I am testing resistor values for even brightness, testing bypass cap values, and deciding on manageable harnesses and connectors.

I’m not yet set up to easily manage an SMD project, in-house – no oven, old school iron, my printers are being tweaked, and I haven’t done an SMD run with the fiberglass, copper, photo-developer, and etchant, yet. But, all of that is getting set up as we go.  I’m making an SMD run of this board (once I finalize it) pretty soon (with a SMD RGB LED, too).  So… it’s all through-hole design, right now.  I’m comfortable with it, and I have all of the parts in stock.

This schematic and board aren’t my final design.  I’m still setting values and designing the system, but I drew some basic stuff up and made a few prototypes of the driver mechanism.

LED PNP Driver Schematic and Layout - Brad Ormand

RGB LED PNP Driver Prototype - Brad Ormand

Then, I started cutting out the overlays, sanding them, and tacking them on.  That birch has excellent grain!  I tried bolts and glue and aluminum standoffs and wood standoffs and just really tried to see what looked and felt best.  I painted the inside a flat white just to see the design more clearly, but the final painting will hopefully be “art” instead of a “guide”.

Hexagon Light - Early Stages - Brad Ormand

All-in-all, I am really enjoying this!  It’s something I feel I have to do.  I have quite a number of projects going right now, and that’s okay.  It’s just how it is.  Everything will get done.  I’m trying to get a batch of the Tri-Wing light, the Arrow light, and this Hexagon light all ready for about March 1st to do some shows and put up for sale.  I think I’ll have 10 of the first two and maybe 5 of the Hex Light going, plus about 20 additional single hex lights.  But, right now, I am firmly in R&D mode, and just making them happen, learning by failing and iterating again and again.

I did, however, work on the synth project over the holidays, and came up with some pretty awesome outcomes.  I’ll have to write another post on that once I solidify some circuitry and take some media.  But, the entire project is going to be secondary until I complete a first batch of these animated lights, for the reasons that #1) it’s much more complex, and #2) I need some knowledge from the success/failure of these light projects to see what I’m going to go into production with for the synths.  But, it will hopefully be a spectacular project!   Happy New YEar. 🙂