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Arduino RGB LED Candle

By: Sean Flanagan

A LED candle is an excellent solution, as it combats each issue traditional candles have. My proposed LED is bluetooth compatible with a smartphone for convenience, color-changing to fit the mood of a room, and contains a 2-hour timer to prevent fire hazards. This solution perfectly combats each of the four issues produced by traditional candles. Simple LED lights are not typically banned in any kind of building. Well built LEDs create little fire hazard, and a two-hour timer has been implemented to lower energy consumption and limit potential hazards. LEDs will not produce any toxins found from burning wax candles. Finally, LED candles last far longer than standard candles while also being far cheaper to produce.

Initial Project Plan

Next, designing the plastic exterior created a number of challenges because of the hollow interior. I had trouble with the plastic folding in on itself until I received advice from Dr. Patricia to use a cup as a mold.

Flattening plastic and spreading it in a cup
Creation of plastic base

To raise the LED above the breadboard/Arduino, I had to solder wires to the LED. Initially, I soldered wires directly to the LED before realizing in later iterations that a breadboard was not necessary. In my final solution, I reducing wiring by soldered the LED directly to resistors before soldering them to wires.

I then ran into major issues when trying to get the bluetooth to work. I made connections from the HM-10 BLE device to the Arduino and was able to successfully get a response. However, the device had issues with reading/writing to the Arduino. More information on this is in the reflection section.

Finally, I began putting the pieces together. I modified the code to add further colors, added an automatic turn off timer, and put all the pieces inside the plastic exterior.

Before deciding a solution, I initially had to decompose the initial problem. I asked myself what kinds of solutions would target each problem, be feasible as a project, and would be an excellent alternative to traditional candles. Answering these questions led to the decomposition steps pictured below. After beginning the project, I then broke apart each step in the process to reduce complexity. After designing the candle exterior, I did not immediately jump into completing all electrical functionality at once. I ensured the components would fit into the candle before moving on to the next step. I made sure I got the LED to work before moving on to soldering. By tackling steps individually, it simplified the project, saved time, and reduced frustration.

This project was an incredible learning experience in design and decomposition for me. It showed me the difficulty of overcoming challenges and the importance of project planning. I learned a lot about working with moldable plastic, soldering, and coding in Arduino. I now feel that I have a much better understanding of the inner-workings of an Arduino (e.g. wiring and understanding how numbers and connections work). This project also taught me the true scale of the Arduino community as I saw the vast amounts of resources, forums, and guides.

If I were to repeat the project there are a number of things I would do differently. First, I would do more research into my project plan. Initial research showed it was possible to hack a glade aerosol spray, but I later realized product updates by Glade removed this functionality years ago. Second, I would purchase necessary parts earlier and from reliable retailers. The HM-10 BLE chip I purchased took weeks to arrive because it shipped from China. This was a major setback in my project as I could not work on the bluetooth functionality until it was too late. Finally, I would keep better care of my materials. On one of the last days of the project, the box that I kept all my work in was lost. Repeating my old progress was much quicker the second time, but it still caused project delays.

Overall, I’m still happy with how the project turned out. The project did not go along as planned but that may turn out to be beneficial in the long-run considering the lessons it taught me in project planning and problem solving.

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