Project in progress
Arduino-Powered School Project

Arduino-Powered School Project © MIT

We had to make a 'final' art piece for our 8th Grade Fine Arts piece around the theme "Labels". Arduino? Arduino. Let's go!

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Components and supplies

09590 01
LED (generic)
Any color you'd like!
4415447 jg5sklyzsj
Resistor 220 ohm
11026 02
Jumper wires (generic)
13's the minimum- the more the merrier.
Ph a000066 iso (1) ztbmubhmho
Arduino UNO

Necessary tools and machines

09507 01
Soldering iron (generic)
Hy gluegun
Hot glue gun (generic)

Apps and online services

About this project

Our Fine Arts teacher is brilliant. This is my last of 9 years in this school and she did not dissapoint with the latest assignment- create an art piece that represents how labels have affected you, those around you, or about labels themselves. It was awesome seeing everyone come up with extremely powerful art pieces, but I felt kind of lost.

For one, I am pretty indifferent to labels. I've been called some good and bad things, but I try to create impressions of myself with my actions rather than my labels. My original idea was to create an interactive JS thing online, but I figured something simpler with Arduino would be more timely and possibly more fun.

Part 1: Conceptualizing the project

First, our basic materials: a laptop or desktop computer, USB suitable for UNO, a standard breadboard, plenty of jumper wires, standard LEDs, 220 ohm resistors, and two basic art pieces- a paper box and a watercolored piece of cardstock with hole punches that we will string the wires through.

Use the above slideshow to see close-ups of my stuff. First, the box, followed by the cardstock, and then the concept breadboard. Make sure to test all of the LEDs you plan to use in this fashion- we will be soldering these components together later and you don't want to solder a dead LED to good breadboarding wires (I did this).

Here's a quick GIF of three of the six LEDs working:

Here's the schematic that we'll use for every LED:

~PWM pin (any) -> wire -> 220 Ohm Resistor -> LED -> wire -> ground

We'll solder the LEDs and components together in this order.

Part 2: Soldering

Okay, so here's what I used for the soldering. I had to borrow stuff from my Dad because I don't own anything other than breadboards and resistors- we don't have one of those hand-helper things so I had to use tape instead.

In the order I gave above, solder your LED-ciruit-wires together. Make sure the wires are long enough to connect your LED from the UNO to the breadboard (that I'll use for ground) with enough leverage to get your LED through a hole punch.

If you've done it right, it'll look something like the above- the blue wire is plugged into the black rail that we'll send to a GND pin on the UNO- the yellow wire will go to any PWM pin that we want.

To prevent anything from shorting out, I'll also wrap my wires in electrical tape.

Continue soldering and taping until you have something that looks vaguely like the mess above!

Next, stick the LEDs through the holes in the paper. If the length works out, adhese the breadboard to the box in a comfortable position.

Part 3: Art

Now the hard part. I attempted drawing my face for the piece, but I didn't want my anonymity completely compromised on the internet and I figured cats were about the funniest creatures on the planet for expressions so I drew myself with a cat head instead.

Then I glued it to the paper. I drew some tags for labels around every hole:

  • Negative
  • Positive
  • Offensive
  • Obligatory
  • Confusing
  • Self-proclaimed

The lights, when stuck through the holes, can light up in unison to display different kinds of labels without writing down a label at all.

Here it is in GIF form, with the lights finalized:

Hot glue the paper to the box, and you're all done!


The final product is one of physical nature- my project took a pretty direct turn from it's initial proposal but I really like how it turned out.

As much as I would like it to be, my project is not quite done. I have yet to properly program the lights- I'll be back with a GitHub Gist with my sketch when I get back!

I hope you enjoyed looking at my first hackster project and my first completed project with Arduino.

Thank you!


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