Wednesday, 13 April 2016

SAM Labs Remote Control LED Balloon Light Show

My 7 year old came up with the idea for our latest SAM Labs project. It's a remote controlled LED light up balloon! He was given one of the single-use light up balloons that you can buy and thought it was pretty cool. He thought he could improve on the idea using a SAM Labs LED.

If you haven't come across SAM Labs before then start with our other articles:

For this project you'll need:
  • A strong white balloon
  • A SAM Labs LED (plus a SAM Labs bluetooth dongle)
  • You can add a SAM labs input too if you like such as a button or even a light sensor. 

The SAM labs LED is covered in silicon apart from the USB charging slot and the LED itself. Could we get it inside a balloon without bursting it?

First we turned the LED SAM on as it would be hard to find the button once the module was inside the balloon.

Then I carefully stretched the balloon neck and eased it over the SAM leaving the USB slot until last so it didn't touch the balloon.

Once the SAM was inside the balloon we found that we had to make sure it was facing into the balloon to allow the light to diffuse. A bit of gentle shaking got the LED into a good position.

We also had to make sure that the balloon was in a dark room to get a good amount of light, but when we did it was fab!

Initially we just controlled the LED from the SAM Labs software to change the colour directly. It worked! At this point we had a remote controlled LED balloon that we could set to any colour we wanted.

Then we used keys on the keyboard to specify particular colours using code blocks. The RGB Behaviour was handy to cycle through red, green and blue on each key press.

Finally we created a LED light show with a code block and a SAM button to start it off. Very groovy! The white balloon disperses the light really well. We hung the balloon from the ceiling and controlled it remotely.

Custom code

And here's a video of the project in action:

Note that there's an indicator light on the SAM which you can see at the end, you can turn this off in the SAM software.

It would be great if SAM Labs added a light sequence like the music sequencer to make it easier to create light shows, but the code wasn't too hard for the kids to understand.

Once the SAM LED needs recharging you'll need to replace the balloon though I did manage to untie the knot in ours. You could use a balloon holder that doesn't require a knot. That way you can deflate the balloon, recharge the SAM and then start again for as long as your balloon lasts.

Of course there are lots of other objects that you could give the SAM Labs light show treatment, but a balloon was definitely fun.

More from Tech Age Kids:


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