Light Puzzle Cube – Final Documentation

by Duong Nguyen


My final project for Light Art is the Light Puzzle Cube, where I took advantage of the infinity mirror effect to make Art while the viewer can play around with it to discover different things the cube can do.

I took in the concept of infinity mirror but instead of using them for just one dimension I used them for a cube where if you look anywhere in the cube you will find infinite space inside it. Not only that I want to make something interactive and viewer can have fun and play around with the art piece. Therefore I have a seperate cube that I called the “Key” cube with has an IMU help viewer to perform certain action that can let you get through the puzzle.

Not only fun and interactive, because for each mirror I also decorate it with LED with different diffuse material patterns, therefore if the puzzle is too difficult the viewer can just left the “key” cube and enjoy the light show.

Iteration and development of cube structure

My original idea was just to make an infinite mirror light cube that has all 6 sided infinite mirror. Each mirror contain two one-way mirror made by acrylic sheet and one way window mirror film, which is cheaper than buying one-way glass mirror. The important concept of the original idea was that no matter which side of the cube the viewer saw, it is always will have infinite space in it to create optical illusion.

However, there were a few interesting challenge while I tested with the infinite mirror that I made. To make the effect clearly as possible, light need to only be exist in between the two mirror, therefore to make all 6 sided infinite mirror, all 6 sided need to be self-contained, and no light should be present in both direction, inward and outward, only in the middle. One more thing I realize that it could become a problem is that the effect of infinite also greatly depended on the size of the mirror. The larger the mirror the deeper and less light-polluted the infinity effect occur. Therefore, when I made the original mirror cube I realize that the infinite effect might not be as great as I imagine. The image of LED only occur 4 to 5 times in the infinite mirror, and you have to look directly into the middle of the mirror to see the effect. Also outside environment need to be totally dark for the effect.

Therefore with those challenges, I decide to take the idea in a different approach, where instead of each sided is self-contained, I want to take advantages of the acrylic material and make the all of sided have some kind of effect on each other while still maintain some form of infinite illusion effect. This make me change the original design of the inner mirror, shown in figure below. So that each side can be self reflect however also affected from other side.

Electrical Component

For the light, I used simply 3 wire LEDs, which I has to just solder them together and the package I used for controlling them is FastLED Arduino and their example code. While testing with the LED, I realize that LED only is pretty simple when look at, so I start trying different diffuse material such as normal plastic bag to bubble paper, … and I want each side to have a different flavor so each side I tried different method.

I also at the beginning have an idea that cube color depended on its orientation, therefore I bought an IMU and started testing with it. The library I used is MPU6050_6Axis_MotionApps20 , the library works well. But I realize that the signal seemed to be very noisy and difficult to get correct number every time. However I took advantage of that because there is no need for absolute correct, random effect will create unexpected color of the cube.

I also need to take care of the LED and light structure that I want in each cube. I want each side to be similar, however because of the diffuse material it would create a different feeling. Also because I need to solder each LED myself, I can change to shape and size of the LED strip to fit the inner acrylic structure that I had. The final structure is shown in the figure below.

Interactive Puzzle Component

After finalize the structure of the cube, I realized that there were too much wires and connection I need to have from the IMU and LED strip from the cube to the Arduino outside. Therefore, I decided to make only 5 sided cube the bottom is for wires, however, this also means the cube cannot be pick-up and we only able to rotate it. Therefore, I decided to focus on the interactive that I can do with the IMU, instead of moving the whole cube, I made a smaller cube like a controller for changing color for the bigger cube.

Also while playing with the IMU, I thought I would be very fun and interactive if the viewer has to perform some “Quests” while moving the key cube. So I spend the last week for playing with all the fun interaction or puzzle that we can possible make with the small cube, and how we can make the puzzle look pretty with the big cube. And at the end I have 8 different stage (or puzzle) for the viewer to go through. I personally made all the control loop and display logic of LED strips and information of IMU into the puzzle in Arduino. I also made a Hint sheet for the viewer shown below. The cube has total of 4 sides which for solving the puzzle and the top mirror was used for like an map so that viewers know where they were and how many puzzle left.


I have a short demonstration for the final project shown below. The video also has narrative for how to solve each puzzle and at the end I made a few color animation for displaying the light puzzle cube. Enjoy !

I have a lot of fun making and playing with the project. This puzzle will definitely be in in my living room as a colorful and playful lamb. I am actually surprised by how well and fun the project turns out, at first I just want to create a static light cube and then I made an interactive and exciting light puzzle cube. Maybe a few improvement will be the wire issue and improvement of the key cube, adding Bluetooth or have a wireless system or play with the cube with your phone.

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