Friday, 22 March 2019

Arckit Lighting - Realistic lighting with LEDs and Coin Cell Batteries

In this project we've added some realistic lighting to an Arckit construciton model. We've previously added some fun, educational lighting using the Circuit Playground and BBC micro:bit beginner electronics boards. This time we wanted to use electronics components that would look realistic.

The Arckit Model

We used the Arckit two-storey building that we used for our 3D printed floors and craft cutter textures projects. The approaches are customisable and can be extended to any Arckit model. 

Sourcing Electronics Components

Arckit is at a 1:48 scale so we needed to find some small but easy to work with electronics components.

We tried three different approaches in this building to see what works.
  1. We found some small LED backlight panels. These are normally used to illuminate screens but are also available individually for electronics projects. They have a bright LED inside a white panel which disperses the light and looks like a florescent lighting unit. 
  2. Adafruit LED sequins. These small LEDs are designed to be sewn into wearable electronics projects. They are tiny but bright and easily work at the Arckit scale. 
We also used some small white switches so that we could turn the lighting on and off within the Arckit house. They're not quite at the Arckit scale but we liked the look of them.

For connecting the components we used two techniques:
  1. Conductive tape. We went for thin aluminium tape as it blends in better than copper tape. If you don't want to see the wiring you could cover it. 

LED Light panels

We used two 45mm 3V LED light panels in the roof of the Arckit model. We also placed a coin cell to one side of the roof and used conductive tape to add a light switch to control the circuit. 

We routed the tape along the walls and across the floor underneath our 3D printed false floor. 

We used double sided tape to stick the components to the Arckit roof and wall and clear sticky tape to fix the battery in place.

A coin cell battery holder would help to make a good connection and make it easy to change the battery. We'll use one next time.


Wiring(tape) under floor

Battery in roof

Silver conductive tape as wiring

Adafruit Sequins

Adafruit sequins come in a variety of colours but we chose warm white for this project for a realistic effect. 

We used the Adafruit sequins for the downstairs lighting. We used wire to connect two sequins in parallel, again using a switch to turn them on and off.

We attached the sequins to Arckit floor connectors using tiny adhesive pads so that they can easily be attached to the ceiling. We could 3D print a lighting cover to hide the wiring. 

This time we took the wires under the floor and connected to a coin cell battery which neatly fits underneath the building.


Wiring LEDs in parallel

Adding a switch

LEDs in situ

Battery under floor


We'll be using a combination of these techniques in future Arckit projects. 

We had success with both conductive tape and coated wire. Conductive tape is great if you want to hide it. The wire is good for reusable electronics that you can move from project to project. 

It's good to have a choice of electronics components to suit different projects. Electronics components designed for paper circuits and sewable circuits work really well as you don't need to worry about resistors when working with 3V coins cell batteries. We also really liked the LED panels. 

Of course you can also combine these components with a microprocessor such as Arduino or the Circuit Playground and BBC micro:bit beginner boards that we used in previous projects.

Perfect fit

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