From the beginning of our work on a LED “smart” ball, 3D printing of parts has allowed for ideas to develop easily. We were able to produce several concepts, modify, and iterate designs that same day in most situations. Throughout the design process, the basic concept behind the IcosaLEDron remained the same — a geometric plastic frame housing electronics to power and control a number of LEDs positioned evenly around a rubber spherical shell.
This picture above shows the first device. A snub cube structure was 3D printed. Each vertex had a blue LED. At the center of the structure was an ADXL345 3 axis accelerometer breakout board. All of the wiring for the LEDs connects to an external TLC5947 LED driver and an Arduino Mega micro controller. With this device we just tested the concept that the orientation of the accelerometer could turn on a specific LED. Smaller versions were made and a NinjaFlex shell was printed that fit around the structure.
A few designs were tested before our focus shifted to a shape that could be unfolded and wired up easily. This was an icosahedron, which could be printed flat, assembled, and folded up. It has been designed to allow for assembly despite its small size; about that of a baseball. Interlocking pegs and fasteners developed over several iterations make the IcosaLEDron sturdy when folded.