I've been wanting to make bigger light sculptures and given the build size of my MakerBot Rep 2 the only way I could do that was to use modules. For a long time I've been interested in TIN (Triangulated Irregular Network) structures so I thought I'd try that approach. The first step was to create the model in SketchUp. Using the Align
SketchUp plugins I took each triangle in the shape and "popped" out an organic shape. My wife called them ravioli. The Align plugin allows easily aligning a face to the x/y plane. Artisan has a tool that allows 'locking' selected edges and vertices, so the organic shapes can be created without modifying the base triangles. (BTW, Artisan has great educational pricing.) I kept the created shapes in careful order using the lines shown in the image below. As soon as a shape was printed I wrote its number on the back using a Sharpie. It also helps to mark the "up" side of each module as otherwise it can be a bit of a puzzle aligning and assembling them. (Update: I've created a short video with additional information about how to create shapes like this for polyhedral pendants
There are 37 modules in 'The Monster' -as we affectionately call the sculpture- and they can all be seen in the picture below. Each module needed small hinges to hold the 1/8" wooden dowels that connect them together. They each also needed a circular shape on the back to hold the AdaFruit RGB LEDs
used to light the sculpture. After trying a number of options I used standard two-part epoxy to glue the hinges and light holders to the modules. In a few cases I needed to fix/supplement the epoxy bond with a hot glue gun.
The next image shows the sculpture fully assembled with the light strand all wired up and ready to have the LEDs inserted into the modules. This step actually went very easily and quickly. I had intentionally sized the modules so that the 3" wire length between each light on the strand would be sufficient to cover the distance between adjacent light holders. Adafruit has an excellent tutorial for using these lights.
The colors of the module lights change randomly, but in a very gradual fashion. I'm happy to share the programming for this if anyone is interested.
I'd like to try making one of these with larger modules but won't until there is a light strand solution that doesn't involve making two splices of four wires between each light holder. (I've suggested to Adafruit that they consider making light strands with larger lengths between the lights.) A final note regarding the hinges. If I did this again I'd oversize the hole for the dowel a bit. Most of my problems assembling the model came from the dowels fitting too snugly in the holes.