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. 


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Or, for a rechargeable version:

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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 Mar 08, 2024.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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