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  • Writer's pictureAtchareeya Jattuporn

Final Project : Hometown Sun

Updated: May 10, 2020

Hometown Sun is a light clock resemble the moving of the sun in my home country. For almost a year, I am away from home and having a long-distance relationship with the people I love. Bangkok and New York are 12 hours apart which means when the sun sets in Bangkok, the sun in New York just rises. I miss waking up and experiencing the same sunrise with my family. Therefore apart from countless video calls, I would like to find a new way to fulfill the gap between time and space with this Hometown Sun. In the long lonely night here, knowing at least how high the sun is rising in my hometown gives me warmth and energy to fight for another night :)

In this fixture, I created both work light and accent light, the top light that recreated the sun from home, and the bottom part that provides the light for work.

check out the ideation process here !

Demonstration Video (speed up light movement.)

Real-time Timelapse

Coding Part

The most important part of this code is to calculate the time. I decided to use the RTCZero library from Arduino and follow an example from Tom's moving light clock. For setting the realtime clock, I was getting the sunrise and sunset time of the day from Web API. This API provided the sunrise and sunset time in UTC for a giving latitude and longitude.

I moved each pixel of the light by comparing the previous light position and light position calculating from the time left before sunset.



- Adafruit Neopixel LED Strip (60 LEDs): 2 meters

- Arduino Nano 33 IOT

After my last week's experiment, I decided to use NeoPixels strips as light sources due to the broken adapter situation. I connected the strip that shows the sunshine with pin 6 (29 pixels) and the working light with pin 2. (58 pixels).



- Strip Plastic sheet: from Bruno's Home Center

- Paper

In the fabrication part, I decided to use the foam board as a body of the fixture to block the light. I used different materials to diffuse the light for each side of the fixture.

For the sunshine side, I was taking advantage of multiple light sources of Neopixel to created multiple shadows. I use a plastic sheet as a diffuser. The transparent plastic sheet has strip patterns that creating some pattern that cam emphasize multiple shadow effect from Neopixel and giving a sunray look for the light. Also, the plastic sheet can extract the real color from each source in one pixel, so I can get some interesting red and green light in the ray.

For the working light, I decided to use paper as a diffuser to spread the light and reduce the brightness of the light source.

Things I've learned

- Learning to use the realtime clock in Arduino. By using the realtime clock, I have to do a lot of math to calculate the time. Also, I was introduced to Epoch Time for the first time. I was so inspired by it. I keep thinking that each person has a specific number that related to important events in our life.

- Learning how to prototype from home. I have to exercise my creativity to utilize the material that I have at home to build this project.

The part that I want to improve in the future is elevated this 12 hours fixture to 24 hours fixture and mimicking daylight and night light. Also, I want to develop patterns around the fixture that represents the time in a day such as human behavior or shadow from the environment.

Another level that I want to achieve is to set up the light sensor at my place in Thailand and upload it to the server and show it in the fixture in New York. If I can do that the concept of the project might be stronger because the light in the house can reflect the behaviors of people there. I might know that my mom wakes up by just observing the light.

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