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Project Help and Ideas » first project for my first son: star lit sky panel for nursery

September 19, 2010
by ddoyle
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Fellow nerds, below is my first project that I did when I found out my first was on his way. My wife let me pick space as the nursery theme. I found some pretty interesting star panels online but they were thousands of dollars and used high intensity/heat sources that I found to be over kill. I decided to build my own for significantly less. All you need is a black presentation board, some lumber, fiber optic cable of various diameters, heat shrink, LEDs and the starter kit from Nerd Kits. I wanted the stars to twinkle, so I used the tutorial on the twinkling valentine card as a starter and then just played with the speeds. I heat shrank a bundle of cables to each twinkling LED and stabbed them through the board, glued the back, and cut the front with nail clippers. Aside from the twinkling lights, I also used 3 white LEDs to provide constant light for the remainder of the panel. Some people would just poke holes and let the light shine through by itself, but if you want to safe yourself the extra LEDs you will need and the power to feed it, put a little bit of fiber optic through the hole and cut it on both sides close to the surface of the board. if its thick enough, you may not even need glue. I also threw some glow in the dark planets on for the heck of it. I would recommend putting several fibers behind them to if possible (i need to see if I can still do this) so that light will hit it from behind.

After everything was built I threw in a switch to the 9v and brought it through the side so I could hang the panel up and turn it on and off from the side. Let me know what you all think and if you have any questions. Happy tinkering,

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September 20, 2010
by Rick_S
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That is a neat project... I kinda wish my kids were little again ... Oh wait... Not really :D. You should shoot a video of it twinkling and post somewhere... I'd love to see the animation. BTW, was the fiber optic cabling expensive???

Great job!!

Rick

September 20, 2010
by ddoyle
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nope. I got it online in a bundle (50 ft of 4 different diameters for 25 +s&h.

September 20, 2010
by Rick_S
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Nice, good idea to take the led output and pipe it like you did.

Rick

September 20, 2010
by ddoyle
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thanks, I was surprised to see that many builders were using high intensity light sources that put off a lot of heat. I'm sure there was enough light to see it during the day, but whats the point of that. Plus it makes it a lot safer to leave on and forget. I have seen a few others going the same direction with theirs as well though to reduce the cost. Sure enough, as soon as I finished, the fiberopticstore that sold me the fibers started selling LEDs with heat shrink and a battery for $15.

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