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.
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 love the way she embraces the ‘beat frequencies’ created by the LEDs cycling at slightly different rates to make a stochastic sea creature. Regarding the LEDs, she adds:
The diffuse self-flashing rgb LEDs are a great (dead simple) product for anyone interested in having changing coloured light for artistic purposes who isn’t too fussed about precisely how the light changes.
Thanks, Ele — that’s exactly what they’re for! Great work!
Finally, be sure check out her block print portraits of Lady Ada Lovelace — awesome!