posts tagged with the keyword ‘leds’



If you’ve not read the posts Star-Blinken, Star-Blinken LED Testing, and Star-Blinken Stand, they provide some good background on this project.


The inspiration came from something Kathy and I saw at Maker Faire Detroit. After seeing the “M” at the Henry Ford I remembered I had left over batteries, LEDs, and binder clips from the Learn to Solder kits I made for the Zoom Symposium at UWM.

I thought that since I had the leftover parts because of a UWM connection, I should find a way to get UWM involved again, so I persuaded my Physical Computing class to help. (And by “persuaded”, I mean I bribed my students into helping me with assembly of the piece.)


I didn’t have a piece of posterboard large enough to make the star I wanted, so I make five segments that could be assembled into a star.


Since I don’t have a printer capable of tabloid printing, I split the pieces into halves and printed on letter paper. Some assembly was required.


I cut the pieces and taped them together, and then had the “star legs” I needed. I then used it to cut the black posterboard using an X-ACTO knife and cork-backed steel edge ruler on a cutting mat. (Sorry, no laser!)


And yes… things didn’t fit right. Again, no laser. I trimmed edges a bit until things fit together right and it was deemed “good enough”.


I took the star pieces to Kenilworth and attached them to the piece of sheet metal with some magnets. At this point, I had to wait until the Thursday night right before Maker Faire, which luckily enough, is when I have class! I brought in some bags of candy, and while I taught students in groups of two or three how to solder, the rest of them assembled everything…


200+ pieces of black construction paper were cut for insulation, 200+ batteries were opened and had 200+ LEDs stuck onto them, 200+ binder clips had the clippy parts removed, and 200+ magnets were attached and then placed on the sheet metal. Things go fast with so many people helping!

Here’s the first test with the lights out, which we did during the DECODE meeting. It was impressive!

I then had to get Star-Blinken from the fifth floor of Kenilworth to my car, which was fun, because the Milwaukee Film event was setting up and Kenilworth was a bit crowded. The stand is heavy to prevent tipping, so I needed a cart. Also, since there’s no on/off switch, it blinks all the time. No control!



I loaded Star-Blinken into my car and yeah, it just kept on blinking! It was a fun ride home. It kept blinking strong all night long in the garage and then I unloaded it the next morning at Maker Faire. I ended up placing in at the entrance of the Dark Room, mainly because there weren’t other things there, but I think being in a darker area may have been even better. (I was a bit busy producing the event to worry about a better placement.)

Dana helped disassemble Star-Blinken at the Expo Center, and I asked her to just drop all the pieces into a box. After I loaded everything out and took it home, I forgot which box it was in and opening the box gave me a pleasant surprise. I then spent over an hour putting all the binder clips back together, and taking apart all the pieces.

The cost of this piece was approximately $100, and about $36 of that was for the batteries, which are the only parts that cannot be reused. (Well, actually, some of them have life left in them! Some did die though. None are at full power anymore.)

So I can reuse all the parts, except for the batteries, either in a similar piece in the future, or in the Learn to Solder kit. I may return the sheet metal to Tom from Milwaukee Makerspace, and the wood was disposed of. (The wood cost $0.00 as it was all scrap, and I reclaimed all the screws.)

This is just one post in a series, check out the other posts as well:


LED Testing

I’ve been testing some flashing red LEDs with CR2032 batteries to see how long they’ll last. My first test confirmed that they’ll definitely go 48 hours, which is good, because they’ll have to last the duration of Maker Faire.

Here are my completely unscientific notes taken this week after starting a new test on Monday night.

Day/Time Status
Monday 11pm Extremely Bright
Tuesday 11pm Extremely Bright
Wednesday 10pm Very Bright
Thursday 11pm Somewhat Bright
Friday 6pm Not Quite Bright
Saturday 6pm Dim
Sunday 6pm Very Dim

I think we can expect three solid days of bright LEDs, and maybe another day or two of acceptably bright LEDs. Working backwards, this means that if we want the LEDs still going strong by 6pm on Sunday, we need to start getting them in place by Thursday night.

Hmmm, Thursday night is when I teach class. Perhaps I can just make this into a group project for my class, or maybe DECODE can lend a hand…


This is just one post in a series, check out the other posts as well:



I’m still gathering material, but this is a project I’ve got planned for the Dark Room at Maker Faire Milwaukee that is titled “Star-Blinken”. (Enjoy the conceptual rendering above.)

I still need to construct the frame (probably from scrap wood at Milwaukee Makerspace) but there is a sheet of steel about 36″ x 29″ that will be covered in flashing LEDs each powered by its own battery and attached with a binder clip and a magnet.

I’ve seen a single LED blink, and even a few blink at once, but this will consist of over 200 LEDs all blinking at once, and at different rates… Star-Blinken!

This is just one post in a series, check out the other posts as well:


GE reveal Light Bulb

I received a GE reveal® LED Light Bulb and was asked to write about it. Besides being given the light bulb, I was not compensated in any other way. Also, I’m sort of a lighting nerd. I use lighting at work for photo and video production, and I’m very particular about much of the lighting in my home and office.

If you want to see some of the typical comparisons, check out the GE reveal® Lighting page. The info I’ll provide below is a bit different.

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb

This is a standard compact florescent light bulb. I sort of hate CFL bulbs. I find the light they produce quite terrible, and the big clunky base of the bulb is annoying. From a design standpoint, I find the spiral ridiculous. I do like the energy saving potential of the CFL bulbs, and we do use some around the house, but overall I hate them.

Standard Light Bulb

This is a standard incandescent bulb. I love these bulbs. They tend to produce a nice quality light, and they are cheap, and the design is beautiful. When I think of a light bulb, this is what I picture. Of course, these are quickly becoming illegal (sort of) and being phased out. Sadly, at some point in the future, you won’t be able to buy incandescent bulbs in the United States anymore. Sadness!

GE reveal LED Light Bulb

This is the GE reveal Bulb, which, design-wise, is close to an incandescent bulb, which is nice, especially if you have shades that go directly on the bulb. (Yes, older lamp shades did have a metal clampy thing that went right on the bulb. I still have some of those lamp shades.) One of the benefits of this bulb is that it matches the physical shape and size of the old incandescent bulbs. That’s a big improvement over the CFL bulbs.

Lighting Difference

As for the quality of light, it’s a pretty nice light. I found it to be just a little cooler than the incandescent bulb… in a good way. I definitely like the light it produces. The LED bulb gives off a great light! Slightly better than the incandescent, and much better than the CFL.

One little annoying thing about the design is that you only get light from half of the bulb. I know this is due to having to shove all the electronics into the other half of the bulb, but I can see this causing issues in some situations where you actually do want light spilling out in every direction.

Old Time Light Bulb

I decided to put the bulb into place in my painting room where I’ve been using an incandescent bulb. Now, our house is old, and the light sockets are old, and this old incandescent bulb has been doing the job fine, probably for years and years, but…

GE reveal LED Light Bulb

When I put in the GE reveal Bulb, it did not work. I tried a few times. I also pushed the bulb up against the fixture, and no luck. It’s worth noting that the socket is a bit wobbly, but the LED bulb just did not work. Maybe there are some sockets it won’t work in?

I should also note that I weighed the three bulbs, because I was curious about the weight. The compact fluorescent bulb (the largest I have in the house) weighed in at 6.4 ounces. The good old incandescent bulb was 0.99 ounces. (Yes, it was less than an ounce!) The GE reveal LED bulb was a whopping 7.3 ounces. That’s a heavy bulb! I can see this causing some issues if you’ve got a lamp that may already be top-heavy. I guess if we’re moving to a world were we have to convert high-voltage AC power to low-voltage DC power in every bulb, that may be the price we pay.

GE reveal LED Light Bulb

I moved the GE Reval bulb to another socket and it worked fine. This light also had a metal shade on it which would normally reflect light down, but since the GE reveal bulb doesn’t really shine light up due to the half-bulb design, the shade probably doesn’t do much. But hey, the bulb worked… that’s good!

GE reveal LED Light Bulb

The good news is, the GE reveal bulb is suitable for damp locations, though it does warn that it is not for use in totally enclosed luminaires. This will limit where you can use this bulb. Even though incandescent bulbs can product a lot of heat, they can also stand a lot of heat, like inside your oven! The electronics used in an LED bulb are sensitive to heat, and may not survive being in an enclosed fixture. (And yeah, never use one in an oven!)

There’s one more feature of the GE reveal bulb I’m really excited about… it’s dimmable! Yes, there are dimmable CFL bulbs, but none of the ones I have are dimmable, and the ones that are seem to be pricey. Incandescent bulbs excel when it comes to dimming. I put the GE reveal bulb in our bathroom fixture and it did indeed dim. It did not go as dim as my incandescent bulbs, but hey, it did work. I then tested it in an X10 controlled lamp, and the results were much better, though there did seem to be a slight flicker at the lowest setting.

GE is marketing this bulb to people who want to have beautiful light in their home (or elsewhere) to “reveal” the decor and surroundings, and for that, I’d say this bulb does the job. It provides a lovely light, and is well designed. A quick search online revealed this bulb to cost about $20, which is ten times what you might pay for an incandescent bulb. Of course the LED bulb should be more energy efficient, and should last much longer. In theory.

So that’s my review of the GE reveal® Light Bulb. Pretty much everything in this review had to do with testing, evaluation, and my own opinion. Now that’s all of that is out of the way, I’ll put the bulb into place and give a real-world test for a while, and then if I have new insights, I’ll share those as well.


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