Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sneak peek of the Bioluminescent Comb Jelly Light Box

I haven't posted much by way of new creations lately. That's because I've been working on some larger projects (including the Space Jellyfish Fractal Triangle Quilt). I've been developping a prototype of a planned Bioluminescent Comb Jelly Light Box. What's a comb jelly? Well, they are these marvellous jellyfish-like marine creatures, the Ctenophora. The combs are the celia (the hairy bits) which they oscillate to swim. They are also voracious, invisible to prey, hermaphrodictic, and bioluminescent. Sometimes, I think that our science fiction depictions of space aliens are too tame; there are stranger creatures here on earth.


Compare, for instance with this:

The flashing is actually quite rapid. I took some artistic license here. Though it would be easy to use rapidly flashing LEDs to imitate the natural rythms of the bioluminescent comb jelly, I was concerned about the irriations/potential for inducing seizures of rapidly flashing lights.


I've been wanting to combine the two sides of my brain my scientific/technical background with my art, or to continue the trend (started with my experiments in thermochromic ink). I thought I would begin encorporating some electronics into my pieces. I am starting small. This is actually, a very very simple circuit.


I've simply combined a 9 Volt battery, with a and on/off switch on the positive rail, and a series/parallel LED array of these nifty, Diffused 5mm Slow Fade Flashing RGB LED. If you aren't used to thinking about electronics, this really is simple - trust me. If you can screw in a lightbulb, you can do this... with a little bit of practice. There are many LED calculators (like this one, for instance) which will tell you how to hook up arrays of LEDs. Basically, you need to make sure you have they with the right polarity (positive end to positive, negative to negative), you limit current (include appropriate resistors), and provide power. That's it. It is posible to get colour changing LEDs which you control with a microcontroller (the guts of a simple computer... basically a chip, which may have some bells and whistles), but since I just wanted the colours to change, these slow fade, self-flashing LEDs make everything simple. They only have the two leads (positive, and negative), so you can treat them like regular LEDs and they automatically fade and change colour. Because they are not manufactured completely uniformly, they do not synch up - which was precisely what I wanted.

I say 'transparent' when I mean 'translucent', but there you are. I plan some better images and video soon.


craftylittlemonkey said...

Amazing, amazing, and so nice to hear your voice describing the project!

minouette said...

Thanks very much! :D