This week I continued my testing and gathered more of my final materials. I made a trip to Home Depot, where I bought acrylic, wire, and black spray paint. I still need to decide on and purchase LEDs/LED strips, but most of my components are now together.
My first test was to try edge-lighting the acrylic. I painted a corner of the sheet, then masked and sanded a stripe until the paint was removed and the finish was rough. I then pointed a light into the side of the panel, and the stripe successfully glowed. I am next going to try additional sanding and scoring the edges to get a brighter effect.
My second test (and biggest failure) was to score and break the acrylic into the sizes I need. The backdrop pieces will be eventually laser cut, but the base plate is simple, and too large for the laser cutters. I used an acrylic cutter to score the acrylic several times, then braced it against the edge of a table and broke it. The first break worked nicely, and mostly followed the score. My second break followed a diagonal, and strayed far from the score line… For the third break, I tried to improve my technique with a deeper score, a shorter break line, and more sturdy support for the panel. The break still did not follow the intended line b a considerable margin. Below are a couple of images showing my setup for a successful break as well as the result of a failed break.
I am still deciding if the panel is now too small to be used for the base. I may need to purchase more acrylic. The acrylic is less brittle than I was imagining, and I will likely make future cuts with a band saw or laser cutter only.
My third test was to create filters for the audio signal to divide it into frequency bands. This was accomplished with a series capacitors and resistors. This seems to be working, and the three LEDs blink along to different bands of the song. I also noticed that the microphone is not picking up ambient music almost at all from a distance. I am thinking now that I will have to split the source between the speakers and a direct audio jack into processing for the light controls.
I am still thinking about the centerpiece of my project, which was originally going to be a model car. I discovered that the model I was looking at was an unpainted kit, which I do not have time to build (even if it sounds like fun). My final experimentation was with creating shapes for landscape elements out of wire, but I have not gotten far with this.