Friday’s Tips & Tricks: LED Bits

How to Create Projects with LED Bits


A LED, or light-emitting diode, is a tiny but powerful type of light! You see it every day in electronic items like traffic signals, video displays, and remote controls. They produce a very bright light and at littleBits, they come in a variety of types, including LED, RGB LED, UV LED, bright LED, and a long LED. LEDs are green output Bits.

Build the Circuit

To get started, attach any green LED output Bit to a blue power Bit. The combination of the power and LED bit will turn on a light. That light becomes much more interesting when you connect it to other Bits; place a pink input Bit between your power Bit and your LED Bit to start controlling and modifying your LED.


Here’s some inspiration on how to get started using your LED Bits.

Note: If the red light coming from your power Bit is interfering with the light from your LED bits, simply place a piece of black electrical tape over the red LED on the power Bit.



If you like to DIY and enjoy creating projects with found materials, consider the following:

1. Create a filter

Modify the color of your LED try putting a filter over it. We used plastic cups that we had in our kitchen to change the color of the light.


A group of Dalton School second graders made this Zombie Dance Party project using samples from a gel manufacturer.

Screen Shot 2013-05-24 at 12.22.00 PM

You can create filters out of any type of semi-transparent material. We like to use tissue paper, thin fabrics, colored glass, colored plastic bags and cotton balls. In our Bay Bridge Lights project we placed bright LEDs behind cotton balls to create clouds. In the project below we placed a sound trigger before our LED Bit. When our designer, Emily, hits the bag and makes a noise it triggers the LED to shine through the colored plastic bag.

2. Make the light flicker (pulse + LED)

Placing a pink pulse Bit before a LED Bit to create flashing lights. We recommend using this technique before dance parties.


3. Discover the Colors

The UV LED Bit, is a very special type of LED that emits an ultraviolet light. Because of it’s wavelength it can filter out certain types of visible light, changing the way you perceive colors. We experimented with this Bit by shining it on different colored post-it notes in the dark to see how the colors changed.

color post-itLR


If you enjoy spending time at the art store and don’t mind investing in materials, follow these tips:

4. Projections

You can create incredible shapes and images by projecting the Bits through different materials. Build on your basic circuit by adding an inverter and a pulse. Build a separate circuit that’s power + pulse + LED + inverter + LED. This circuit will create flashing lights that are triggered opposite of one another. We used this circuit to create a museum light box to project images through.

For this project we recommend getting some transparency film, which you can buy at most office supply stores. We like to use 3M transparency film. Draw or print your favorite image onto the transparency slide. Then, hold the slide in front of the blinking LEDs and let them project through the transparency. You can modify the image appearance by changing how close or far away your hold the slide.[youtube]museum-lightbox

Other great examples of this include Fireworks, a project made by a member of our community, and our Analog GIF Box project. Instead of drawing images onto a transparent slide, use an x-acto knife to cut out an image from construction paper and let the light shine through.

5. Build lanterns

Looking for a way to light up a dark space? LEDs can help. We found inspiration in this simple Paper Torch project designed by Kazuhiro Yamanaka. In this project Yamanaka illustrates how easy it is to create a powerful flashlight from just a single LED. We decided to create our own lighting fixture with LEDs in our Take-Out Tiki Torch project. Using only two bright LED’s and a Chinese take-out box, you can create the perfect lantern to illuminate your patio while you sit outside and enjoy the warm summer nights.


Looking to build something a little more complex? Check out our Spinning Star Christmas Tree Topper.


6. Write a Secret Letter

Trying to send a secret letter? Use an invisible ink pen to write your letter. The piece of paper will appear blank, but once you shine the UV LED Bit over it, the message will magically appear!

secret sign_1LR
secret sign_2LR


Only for those with advanced skills

7. Just add water!

First, please know that THE BITS ARE NOT WATER PROOF.

Water is a great way to diffuse light. To re-create this project you must use caution to make sure your Bits do not get wet. First, we placed our circuit in a zip lock bag: littlebits in zip lock bag_2

After we sealed that bag we placed it inside another zip lock bag filled with water

LED + Soud trigger in water

Not sure if you bag is waterproof? Try placing an object that will not break if it comes into contact with water in the bag and then submerge the bag in water. This way you will know if your bag is waterproof enough to protect your Bits.


8. Raster graphics on acrylic

For this project you will need access to a laser cutter. On a sheet of acrylic use a laser cutter to raster a graphic onto the acrylic. Then place the LED behind it to light it up. We used this method in our project Thingiverse Dragon Hack.


Regardless of your skill level, you can have fun creating with the LED Bits available in your kit. To learn more Tips & Tricks, click here.


9. View the World in Bee Mode

Bees see ultraviolet light reflections that bring out features unseen to humans in visible wavelengths. So some of our community members decided to use the UV LED Bit to create “Bee-Vision” in this amazing project.

bee vision

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