Spooky Arduinon Projects #3 – DIY Ambient orb

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Spooky Arduinon Projects #3 – DIY Ambient orb

Todbot writes – “The notes for the third class are up on the Spooky Arduino class page. Also are links to many of the Arduino code sketches used in the class. Here’s a 10-minute project that’s a glowing orb thing similar to the Ambient Orb (but much larger!) using the techniques from this week’s class.”Link.


  • Spooky Projects – Introduction to Microcontrollers with Aurdino – Link.
  • Arduino, the Basic Stamp killer? – Link.

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From the pages of MAKE:

16 thoughts on “Spooky Arduinon Projects #3 – DIY Ambient orb

  1. Oracle1729 says:

    Interesting, the project I’m just finishing up is a pic based orb. They hardware and firmware a done; I can set the color of my full-spectrum LED from the PC’s serial port. I’m just stuck on the PC side software.

    Windows makes it such a pain to write a simple program to parse a web page and access the serial port. Anyone have any tips or maybe the software from this project will be useful for me?

  2. Oracle1729 says:

    Nevermind, I just followed the link. There’s no info there but from the video all it does is cycle through colors.

    An Ambient Orb sets itself to a specific color based on some data. It can be used to indicate the stock market, weather, sports scores, etc. See http://www.ambientdevices.com/cat/orb/orborder.html

    The thing this person is calling an Orb can be done for 35 cents with an LED from LEDshoppe. http://www.ledshoppe.com/Product/led/LE2004.htm. What a great project, use a $35 controller board to simulate a 35 cent part. Then pretend it’s a really nice $150 product just to confuse people.

  3. philliptorrone says:

    oracle, these are from classes that teach about the arduinon board.


    this example was “a 10-minute project that’s a glowing orb thing similar to the Ambient Orb (but much larger!) using the techniques from this week’s class.”

  4. Oracle1729 says:

    Phillip, what makes the ambient orb great is that it sets the color based on outside stimulus to use as an indicator. Calling this “similar to the Ambient Orb” is deliberately misleading and confusing about what it does. The Orb is not a color cycling light show.

    It would be more accurate to call it similar to a Glade lightshow without the air freshener part: http://www.glade.com/scented-oil-lightshow/ .

    For that matter, if you want to compare it to a geek-bling artistic light device, it’s much more similar to Oggz http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/lights/76c0/

  5. philliptorrone says:

    yah, i have an ambient orb, did some fun stuff with the dev kit and recently met the CTO at a gadget event and been around ambient orbs, a lot. i think describing the object like this is ok… it’s pulsing led orb, kinda reasonable to see why someone would say ambient orb. all that being said, these are class notes, i’m pretty sure it was clear as the students built the project it wasn’t a data device like the ambient orb :)

  6. todbotdotcom says:

    I called it similar to the Ambient Orb because it is a color-changing RGB orb controlled from a computer. As an example of the smoothness of color changing, I replicated the color fading from the “dimmingLEDs” example on the Arduino site.

    If you’re looking for an easier way to bridging the gap between the Net and the RGB orb, check out Processing (http://processing.org/).

  7. todbotdotcom says:

    Here’s a more detailed description of how the DIY ambient orb works:

  8. AP says:

    If you read the rest of the notes from the class you’ll find processing code for sending serial data to the arduino board controlling the lights. Scraping web pages to find the data you want to represent with the orb isn’t hard.

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