Overview

For this project we will create a "fiber optic" rainbow archway using glue sticks and a NeoPixel LED dot strand. The NeoPixels hidden beneath the glue sticks guide the light in a curved path away from the LEDs. Because each glue stick connects two different NeoPixels, they are able to mix colors in the center, allowing tons of different color combinations to be achieved.

You can make neat sculptures with light effects!

This guide demonstrates how to make, assemble, and code your own glue-stick-fiber-optic art piece, demonstrating how to control the speed, color, and interactive potential of the light display, as well as alternative glue stick arrangements. 

Fiber Optic...-ish

Fiber optic cables work by virtue of a unique property called "total internal reflection", allowing them to carry huge amounts of information in the form of light almost losslessly. Glue sticks do not make good substitutes for fiber optic cable because they do not have total internal reflection, rather they act like light pipes, both scattering and reflecting light that enters them. This does, however, make them great light diffusers, which suits this project just fine. 

Electronics

Circuit Playground Express

PRODUCT ID: 3333
Circuit Playground Express is the next step towards a perfect introduction to electronics and programming. We've taken the original Circuit Playground Classic and...
$24.95
IN STOCK

USB cable - USB A to Micro-B

PRODUCT ID: 592
This here is your standard A to micro-B USB cable, for USB 1.1 or 2.0. Perfect for connecting a PC to your Metro, Feather, Raspberry Pi or other dev-board or...
$2.95
IN STOCK

Adafruit NeoPixel LED Dots Strand - 20 LEDs at 2" Pitch

PRODUCT ID: 3630
Attaching NeoPixel strips to your costume can be a struggle as the flexible PCBs can crack when bent too much. So how to add little dots of color? Use these stranded NeoPixel dots!...
$27.50
IN STOCK

3 x AAA Battery Holder with On/Off Switch and 2-Pin JST

PRODUCT ID: 727
This battery holder connects 3 AAA batteries together in series for powering all kinds of projects. We spec'd these out because the box is slim, and 3 AAA's add up to about...
$1.95
IN STOCK

Or, for a rechargeable version:

Lithium Ion Cylindrical Battery - 3.7v 2200mAh

PRODUCT ID: 1781
Need a big battery for your project? This lithium ion battery contains a 2200mAh and a protection circuit that provides over-voltage, under-voltage and over-current protection. Yet, it...
$9.95
IN STOCK

Adafruit Micro Lipo - USB LiIon/LiPoly charger

PRODUCT ID: 1304
Oh so adorable, this is the tiniest little lipo charger, so handy you can keep it any project box! Its also easy to use. Simply plug in the gold plated contacts into any USB port and a...
OUT OF STOCK

Other Materials

For this project you will need:

  • Scrap corrugated cardboard
  • Scissors and/or box cutter
  • Hot glue sticks (10 inches long x 0.44 inches wide is ideal)
  • Laser cutter + acrylic (optional)
This guide was first published on Jan 29, 2019. It was last updated on Jan 29, 2019. This page (Overview) was last updated on Jun 25, 2019.