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Although Crickets can only communicate with each other using numbers, these numbers can be used to create wonderful effects.

Social Fireflies

These fireflies change color when they see a firefly of a different color. -Margaret

stuff you need
  • 2 (or more) PICO Crickets (You could do this project with older Crickets as well.)
  • 2 displays
  • 2 lights (tricolor LEDs)
  • cables
  • plastic cups
  • sandpaper (if your cups are clear)
  • scissors
  • construction paper or markers
  • tape

In this project, two (or more) Crickets communicate using their infrared (IR) transmitters.

For each social firefly nightlight, you'll need a Cricket, a display, and a light (tricolor LED).

You'll make the bulbs for your nightlights from a plastic cup turned upside-down. The LED will sit inside the cups.

Frosted (not clear ) plastic cups work best for this project. I used 12-ounce cups (they are about 4 inches tall).

If you have a clear cup, lightly sand the inside of the cup. This will make the whole cup glow when the LED turns on.
Cut a small opening at the rim of the cup for the cable.
Test out your nightlight - set the LED under the cup, and try programming the LED to display different colors.

I loved the glowing colors of the LED in the cup, but wanted to decorate my nightlight with fireflies.

I looked for images of fireflies, and made a sketch to use as a guide.

I cut a strip of black construction paper the height of the cups, drew my firefly on the paper, and cut out the body and wing shapes.
Next, I wrapped the paper around the nightlights and taped it in place.

The firefly shapes worked beautifully!

The program for the social fireflies uses IR communication between the Crickets. Each Cricket starts with a random value for the LED and sends an IR message with that value to the other Cricket. When that Cricket receives the IR message, it either increases or decreases the value of the LED color.

Here's the part of the program that either increases or decreases the color of the LED. You can also look at the whole program I used.

Gradually, the LEDS change color, and eventually they display the same color.


What else
These were inspired by Stephanie's "social butterflies" workshop at the MIT Museum
Make a light-up Magic Lantern.
Read about how Keith was inspired by fireflies

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