Firefly Jar

by neilmac, published

Firefly Jar by neilmac Jul 22, 2015

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Video posted at: https://youtu.be/TqG-xDmUAEc

Remember catching fireflys as a child and watching them in awe as they lit up at random in your hands? Now you can recreate that experience with 3d printed fireflys.

Uses an arduino micro, 12 LEDs, and 3d printed parts

If you make this, fireflys should print well on their backs with a raft without supports.

Updated 26 JUL with Jar insert that fits 9V battery and also attached the Arduino program I used for it with pin instructions.


Tools Needed:

  • Arduino Software
  • Soldering Iron/Solder
  • Breadboard
  • Glue gun/glue
  • Wire clippers/strippers
  • Dremel tool (to cut circuit board to fit insert)
  • Drill

Parts to Buy:
-12 x yellow LED's

  • toggle switch
  • arduino micro
  • thin wire
  • 12 x 220ohm resistors
  • 1x 9V battery (I used a 12V 23A, but the battery did not last long, 9V should be used but you'll need to stretch out the jar insert slightly to make it taller)
  • circuit board
  • large mason/kerr jar (7 in tall) with narrow mouth.

1) Print out:
a- Number of fireflys you want. I used 12.
b- The 9V Mason Jar insert.

2) Write arduino code to light up the LED's randomly. I used a delay of 1 to 15 seconds on each LED, completely independent of each other - no patterns makes it mesmerizing to look at. The program I used is attached as a source file, feel free to use it.

3) Start putting together the LEDs. The leds should go from one of the pins listed in the program to ground with a resistor somewhere along the current path (either side of the LED). The long end of the LED should the positive voltage side. Test the arduino and LEDs on a breadboard to make sure it works as you want it to before soldering it.

4) Trim LED leads to little 1/4" stubs, solder the LED stubs to the wires, and carefully string through the fireflys. Then fix with hotglue. At this point, I put a piece of blue tape on each of the positive sides of the LEDs so I knew which wire to solder. (or you could use different color wires)

5) Plan out the circuit board to fit into the inside of the printed jar insert. Solder LED wires to the board and test each LED separately to make sure you didn't break a wire putting it in place. Fit the board and battery into the jar insert and see where you need to trim. At this point, you may need a dremel tool to cut the circuit board to fit.

6) Solder the arduino to the board, and power it up with USB to make sure you put it in right (I soldered it in backwards the first time - don't make the same mistake)

7) Solder/wire in the toggle switch and battery and fit into insert. Drill hole in mason jar lid to fit in the switch.

8) Bend the wires of the fireflys so they appear spread out throughout the jar. Turn out the lights and enjoy.

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I just ran the code and I get nothing out of the non digital outputs.

Comments deleted.

I'm thinking of making one of these. I looked to see how much the parts would cost to be printed here, and when I go to the screen to do so, it lists all 3 items as $0.00. It then also says the firefly may be too small to print. I also checked with shapeways and they are saying that the walls of the firefly are too thin. I'm not quite sure what to do, I've never gotten anything 3d printed before.

I scaled mine 2540% in Slic3r to obtain the 0.92in (23.36mm) x 0.775in (19.68mm) x 0.304in (7.71mm) dimensions.

someone has the code for arduino?

Can anyone please fix the scaling on these files and repost new files. Thanks In Advance.

I accomplished this using a PIC12F683 (about a buck each), 8 yellow or green SMD LEDS, 4 resistors, one .1uf cap, a switch (or jumper), and a printed 2x2032 lithium battery holder. The 8 leds run in 4 groups of 2 and a small PCB I home etched. Code was done in GCGB (compiled basic).

Here is a short video of it running (the lights are on a centerpiece with moss and flowers around them. They do not appear quite a bright in real life and are more "firefly-like" in person.


what size do you scale them to I open the fireflys up and there microscopic

It should scale if you import it in inches. If that doesn't work, scale it so dimensions are 0.92in (23.36mm) x 0.775in (19.68mm) x 0.304in (7.71mm).

I'm planning to use your arduino code for an led sign. I'll play with the int delaymin=10; int delaymax=1500; numbers to get a slightly faster led frequency for the effect I want. Also planning to use leds in series pairs to eliminate the 220ohm resistor.

I am glad to see someone did this. :)