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Photos: Daric Gill

What do you get when you combine an old 1-½” thick desk surface with an Arduino and a set of LED light strips? If you’re Columbus, Ohio, artist Daric Gill, these elements combine to become “The Living Orb,” or his interpretation of a mini-treehouse. The microcontroller inside the orb controls the LED strips inside to slowly pulse off and on when the sun goes down, powered by a battery that charges via solar panels during the day.

After assembly, this orb was hung in a tree and became part of the “Find Me in the Park — It’s TREEmendous.” This program was put on by the Columbus (not Pawnee) Parks and Recreation Department to allow people to investigate city parks in a new way.

The orb took Gill about a month to construct, and was meant to be “outside [his] comfort zone” creation-wise. Among the various challenges, this was his first attempt at programming an Arduino. Also, the process for bending the wood into shape certainly took some experimentation, since both the form and the material bent were made from the thick desk mentioned earlier. As he puts it, “Creating ideas from scratch means there’s no real step-by-step guidebook to follow.”

Certainly most artists, Makers, engineers, and anyone else in “ground breaking” fields can relate to this!

When asked about inspiration for this project, Gill responded that “The orb shape and its materials were widely influenced by my other artwork, which finds harmonious connections between nature, the viewer, and machines. Using as many reclaimed components as possible was pretty key in the design process as well. ”

The results are quite nice, as seen in the video below.

For more information, check out Gill’s website and read more about the build process.