Homemade Switch, LED Ligthing

Project 1: Object with Home Made Switch

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Although it’s nothing new, an illuminated umbrella sounds quite cool to me. So why not make one? For my first Physical Computing project I will be wiring 8 LED lights to the inner frame of a $6 umbrella that I purchased at Home Depot. When the umbrella opens, the LED lights will turn on using a switch created by using a piece of tin. When the tin makes contact with the umbrella frame, the circuit will have continuity, illuminating the LEDs.

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Each set of LEDs will require its own resistor.

A sketch of my circuit schematic showing a switch, two separate rows of LEDs, each with its respective resistor.

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My schematic works resulting in only minor LED losses.

After a few mishaps; out of place wires, a shorted LED (may it rest in peace), and more wrong wiring, I have continuity!

The circuit:

  • (1) 9v battery as my power source
  • (8) 3.3v Blue LED lights
  • (4) 1k Ohm resistors
  • Scrap piece of tin (conductor)
  • Booze to keep my stress at bay
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Soldering is very fun. Although I did struggle a bit because I lack a steady hand. That’s probably why I suck at Operation.

Since my circuit will involve a lot of wire to run along the frame and back to the power source, I will solder the bits together to make sure there are no gaps in the circuit. Tape seemed to cumbersome to use, and melting stuff together is cool.

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Measuring the length of the leg made it easier to calculate placement and the amount of wire needed.

After soldering 4 separate strings of LED lights and testing them, I aligned and taped them to the umbrella frame using electric tape.

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The LEDs are taped to the frame.

9v battery taped to the umbrella handle

A 9v battery taped to the umbrella handle.

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Tin attached to the umbrella stem will make contact with a second piece of tin completing the connection.

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The second half of the switch that will complete the circuit once contact is made.

Success! After many attempts, a few tweaks, and a little help from a classmate, my LED lighted umbrella is up and operational.

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Let there be light.

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