Light Pipes

Zodiac uses morse code visually and plays music based on morse code. The music was covered before so now I have to solve the visual part. I’ll pick up the cabinet from the powder coater later today, so that’s coming.  The idea is to have 16 LEDs to represent the various dots, spaces and dashes that is morse code. It follows a simple set of rules, 1 LED not lit is the standard space,  1 LED lit is the standard dot, 3 LEDs lit is a dash.  To make it more attractive we use a light pipe to make the LEDs appear like larger lights. The light pipe side view shows it’s just a chunk of plexiglass, frosted on the sides and drilled to fit the LED.

LED mounted in plexiglass block from side

LED mounted in plexiglass block from side


Some of the light does leak out the sides but in the final piece I will tape the outside except for the front of the piece. The light looks really nice though even on the prototype.

Front view of light pipe

Front view of light pipe



Here’s what the cabinet looks like when I picked it up from powder coating.  I have half of the plexiglass insert in the piece so you can kind of see the curve it makes.  Stay tuned for this weekend when it all goes together.

Cabinet with plexiglass insert

Cabinet with plexiglass insert


One last important (?) point for today, the piece is called ” Pinholes in the Curtain of Night

  1. #1 by Cindy on November 11, 2009 - 11:22 am

    Excellent appearance of light.

  2. #2 by Dave on November 11, 2009 - 11:38 am

    Thanks, let’s see how it looks behind a smoky piece of plexiglass when it’s mounted in the box I have for it.

  3. #3 by Cindy on November 11, 2009 - 1:09 pm

    So, for example, “L” is ._.. {one light, space/blank, 3 dots, blank, one dot, blank, one dot}

    So I would see 6 dots simultaneously and need to see the spaces. Will this be shown in a darkened area? Is it very obvious that the blanks are blank? How long time between letters?

    (Only because it is a different way to see dashes-that whole synapse thing…)

  4. #4 by Dave on November 11, 2009 - 1:22 pm

    The way I do L ( . … . .) or one dot on, one off, three on, one off, one on, one off, one on and then all the rest off. The piece is left justified so it always begins in the same place. There are 16 total LED pipes which is one more than I really need, Q is my longest letter LED wise, 3 dashes and a dot. Each letter is displayed for 4 seconds, the music matches this cadence and accordingly, the song for LEO is 12 seconds long, whereas the song for Sagittarius is 44 seconds long.
    The area may not be darkened, but this is in a cabinet and recessed so it should work fine, if not I’ll work to control the space.

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