Glowy Shell Project – part 1(ish)

Glowy Shell Project – part 1(ish)

I’ve recently been working on a project where I’ve tried to go from idea all the way through to a finished “product” (although I have no intention of selling it). I quite often start a project and get bored/distracted once I’ve project to myself that the idea is possible. This one I’m going to try to see through to the end. The idea behind the project was inspired by a few things. Firstly, I remembered making some edge lit laser engraved acrylic bits and pieces years ago inspired by some PC case modding project I had seen. The effect was really nice, especially with RGB leds, and has since become quite common particularly in signage. Secondly, a year or so ago I bought some Neopixels from adafruit. I got a long string, a pack of single leds and some of the led rings to play with to try to satisfy all my multicoloured illumination needs (I didn’t really need any of it, but hey it was fun).

oooo..... pretty

oooo….. pretty


After playing with the supplied neopixel library for half an hour making pretty patterns of different colours, I started holding different objects over the leds to see if they were transparent enough to “glow”. One of the things that I tried was sea shells, in particular some limpet shells that I had laying around. The effect is, I think, is really nice and for while I was happy with my Arduino Uno + Neopixel ring + power supply combination. However, I always wondered: “can I fit all the necessary electronics and power into the shell so that it was self contained and nicer to handle?”.  I happened to have some small “Arduino-like” microcontroller boards laying around and some single RGB leds but I couldn’t really jam everything into the really quite small space available in a limpet shell.

So I decided to make my own, which turned out to be a bit more effort than anticipated. Although I studied electronics at A-Level, a lot of that knowledge seems to have disappeared over time through lack of use. Luckily it’s a really simple project on the electronics front. I’ve also done a bit of circuit design with KiCad and Eagle, made my own PCBs (admittedly ages ago) and done more soldering than you can shake a stick at (can you shake a stick at it? who knows).

Over a few posts I’m going to talk about and semi-document the process of designing and making the glowy shell thing! Maybe it’s useful for someone else, it’s definetly useful for me, otherwise I forget everything I’ve done, how it works and what is.




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