Making LED throwies at Yuri’s Night

Home Science
Making LED throwies at Yuri’s Night

This weekend the MakeMobile was on the tarmac at the NASA Ames Research Center for Yuri’s Night, a massive global celebration of Yuri Gagarin’s first flight into space. 211 parties were held across the globe, and even the astronauts on the International Space Station had one! The Bay Area event featured two days of educational experiences and a line up of acts including Les Claypool of Primus, N.E.R.D, and Common, and The Black Keys. Our team was on hand to create LED throwies and pre-sell tickets for Maker Faire. Plus, we raffled weekend passes and gave away a ton of magazines and books.


The greatest part for me was teaching everyone how to make throwies. The red vintage-fire-truck-stylings of the MakeMobile were our backdrop for a table covered with lights and batteries, and it fostered a ton of creative energy. We went well into the night with hundreds of people creating their own unique LED accessories that they wore while roamed through the event.


I absolutely love the look on a person’s face when they first find the difference between the anode and cathode on the lights. The simple act of flipping the pegs around is all the troubleshooting you need, and bam, done, now you’re glowing. But of course there is much more science for the curious, and the biggest discussion of the night came when someone would fit 3 or 4 blue LED’s on the battery, only to add a red, and have all the blues suddenly vanish. “Hey, what happened to the blue ones?” It was a major lesson in push and resistance. And I loved explaining that it happened because electricity is just so lazy.


On Sunday, the MakeMobile was packed up, and the entire event dismantled, leaving only the surreal scene of the bare tarmac and the halfway deconstructed Gothic Ray Gun Rocketship. As we packed, I marveled at how small even a 4 story rocket seems when dwarfed by the amazing NASA facilities. Especially when compared in scale to the historical landmark and Silicon Valley cultural icon known as Hangar One.


The massive structure was once a naval station that was built to hold the legendary airship USS Macon. The Macon was a rigid airship (or in generic terms, a zeppelin) that like most airships ended with a tragic crash. But her Hangar One remains as one of the largest freestanding buildings in the world, and like Yuri’s Night, it stands as a testmant to the constant forward momentum of man’s achievements. And with the event behind us. and the wind and rain at our backs, the MakeMobile was driven to Tech Shop, where the rig will hang out for you to visit if you get a chance. Overall, Yuri’s Night was the perfect start for the makers’s adventures to come this summer.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!


Ready to dive into the realm of hands-on innovation? This collection serves as your passport to an exhilarating journey of cutting-edge tinkering and technological marvels, encompassing 15 indispensable books tailored for budding creators.