The Dance of Freedom took me over 50 hours of work to complete after spending many hours at home perfecting the design in Corel from my first attempt of this majestic whale back in 2016.

All work was completed at MADE in STL – a makerspace in St Louis. MADE is great because they have a low monthly membership and then you rent the areas or tools you need. For this project, I rented a laser cutter from 10am Thurs – 7pm Sunday, the woodshop for an hour to plane & cut boards for the stand, and the paint room for 4 hours on Friday.

Costs for the project were rental time from MADE was $215, acrylic $150, 2 boards & leds & 10a power supply $125, paint $30 (colors I didn’t have in my arsenal), 4 nights lodging and food $675, fuel ($63) for 465 miles and over 55 hours of my time.

The led library I’m using is FastLED which I then created 4 separate objects to alter in my control loop: water, wake left, wake right and whale.

Cutting on a Universal Laser at MADE – my favorite makerspace!
This is a boring video of laser cutting…but it still amazes me that I can draw something on the computer and hold it in my hand later.
Layout of all the pieces as they are being cut
Peeling away the paper to paint the ocean
Painting the dark blue highlights, choosing this dark blue as a tribute to the “blue” whale
Paper peeled away for my final color of snow white. This is the fifth layer of paint: dark blue, ice blue, gray blue, white and snow white.
MADE has the best paint room. An entire “Wall of Fan” to pull the spray from the air. Not the best video because I was spraying with one and camera-ing with the other.
The blue whale painting is completed and the led tracks are cut out. The wakes on the left and right are clear because they are lit on the layer below this one.
Using an easel to work on the paper pealing and assembly to cut down on dust and dirt from table area
Setting in the leds
View of the LEDs laying about where they will go
The king watching me work as I set the leds
Testing the leds
Time for the Mega 2560 Pro to be installed
Wiring complete

Here is where I cried. As I was putting on the stand, I forgot to pull out USB cord for programming the Mega Pro and some side pressure on the cord caused the USB-mini port to brake off, rendering my device disabled.

Sadly I didn’t notice it had happened until the work was complete and I turned it on. It came on momentarily but then locked up. It took 2 more hours to remove the stand, remove two plates, remove and solder in a new Arduino board and reassemble the piece.

It is finished!

Final project.

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