A NASA intern recently tried making a cube of LED lights flash different colors using Arduino Uno microcontroller. If you are as excited with hacking new technology as we are in the STEM Innovation Lab, then we would love to hear more from you!
We used an Arduino Uno microcontroller to control a 8x8x8 matrix of LEDs that change to any color in the rainbow. We found the Arduino can individually control each LED through a concept called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). You can view our initial source code here for you to hack more.
For us, we were aiming to scrape real-time space weather data so the lights inside the data cube would constantly change. We tried setting each row of LEDs to a color and height according to the Kp index – a global estimate of the activity of geomagnetic storm measured around the Earth and forecasted daily by our friends at NOAA Space Weather prediction Center, SWPC.
Currently, we found that we needed additional hardware to be able to connect live space data to the Arduino, so for now you will see our code used dummy data for prototyping.
So for your next homework assignment why not display your results in 3D rather than on a computer? Or try hacking our code to generate soothing mood lighting that pulse while you play an instrument or even the rhythms of your favorite musical band.
So go forth and fork!! Fork our git code and hack something amazing. We would love you to share with us how you tried hacking and improving on our prototype.