November 24, 2007
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October 2, 2007
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May 24, 2008
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Color Mixer with Diffuser

Project Members: 
Anirban Sen


I played around with different items to find a good diffuser for my color mixer. I tried a piece of quartz crystal, a cap of a room air freshener, and a shot glass. The shot glass seemed to work the best because the shape enabled me to enclose all the LEDs and the resistors. I was able to use the numeric input on the arduino serial input to enter the data to change the lighting conditions.

Arduino Board
3 yellow wires
1 black ground wire
1 red, 1 blue, 1 green LED
3 220 Ohm resistors
2 rubber bands
3 blue ground wires
Shot Glass
Arduino Environment

Source Code:
* Serial RGB LED
* ---------------
* Serial commands control the brightness of R,G,B LEDs
* Command structure is "<colorCode><colorVal>", where "colorCode" is
* one of "r","g",or "b" and "colorVal" is a number 0 to 255.
* E.g. "r0"   turns the red LED off. 
*      "g127" turns the green LED to half brightness
*      "b64"  turns the blue LED to 1/4 brightness
* Alternate command structure is "<colorCode>*", where "colorCode" is
* one of "r","g", or "b".
* E.g. "r"    increases the red LED brightness by 10
*      "rrr"  increases the red LED brightness by 30
*      "ggb"  increases the green LED brightness by 20 and the blue by 10
* Created 18 October 2006
* copyleft 2006 Tod E. Kurt <
* Adapted 5 September 2007
* copylefter 2007 Ryan Aipperspach <>
//include support for manipulating strings.
//for a useful string comparison function, see the bottom of this file... stringsEqual()
#include <stdio.h>
#include <string.h>

char serInString[100];  // array that will hold the different bytes of the string. 100=100characters;
                        // -> you must state how long the array will be else it won't work properly
char colorCode;
int colorVal;

int redPin   = 9;   // Red LED,   connected to digital pin 9
int greenPin = 10;  // Green LED, connected to digital pin 10
int bluePin  = 11;  // Blue LED,  connected to digital pin 11

int redValue = 127;
int greenValue = 127;
int blueValue = 127;

void setup() {
  pinMode(redPin,   OUTPUT);   // sets the pins as output
  pinMode(greenPin, OUTPUT);  
  pinMode(bluePin,  OUTPUT);
  analogWrite(redPin,   redValue);   // set them all to mid brightness
  analogWrite(greenPin, greenValue);   // set them all to mid brightness
  analogWrite(bluePin,  blueValue);   // set them all to mid brightness
  Serial.println("enter color command (e.g. 'r43 or rrrrrrrrbbbb') :"); 

void loop () {
  //read the serial port and create a string out of what you read
  readSerialString(serInString, 100);
  resetSerialString(serInString, 100); 
  delay(10);  // wait a bit, for serial data

void resetSerialString (char *strArray, int length) {
  for (int i = 0; i < length; i++) {
    strArray[i] = '\0';

//read a string from the serial and store it in an array
//you must supply the array variable
void readSerialString (char *strArray, int maxLength) {
  int i = 0;

  if(!Serial.available()) {
  while (Serial.available() && i < maxLength) {
    strArray[i] =;

//go through the string, and increase the red value for each 'r',
//the green value for each 'g', and the blue value for each 'b'.
//For example "rrrg" increases red by 30 and green by 10.
void processRepeatKeyCommands(char *strArray, int maxLength) {
  int i = 0;
  //loop through the string (strArray)
  //i = the current position in the string
  //Stop when either (a) i reaches the end of the string or
  //                 (b) there is an empty character '\0' in the string
  while (i < maxLength && strArray[i] != '\0') {
    //Read in the character at position i in the string
    colorCode = serInString[i];
    //If the character is r (red)...
    if (colorCode == 'r') {
      //Increase the current red value by 10, and if you reach 255 go back to 0
      redValue = (redValue + 10) % 255;
      analogWrite(redPin, redValue);
      Serial.print("setting color r to ");
    //If the character is g (green)...
    } else if (colorCode == 'g') {
      greenValue = (greenValue + 10) % 255;
      analogWrite(greenPin, greenValue);
      Serial.print("setting color g to ");
    //If the character is b (blue)...
    } else if (colorCode == 'b') {
      blueValue = (blueValue + 10) % 255;
      analogWrite(bluePin, blueValue);
      Serial.print("setting color b to ");
    //Move on to the next character in the string
    //From here, the code continues executing from the "while" line above...

//change the value of the red, green, or blue LED according to the command received.
//for example, r240 sets the red LED to the value 240 (out of 255)
void processNumericalCommands(char *strArray) {
  //read in the first character in the string
  colorCode = serInString[0];
  //if the first character is r (red), g (green) or b (blue), do the following...
  if( colorCode == 'r' || colorCode == 'g' || colorCode == 'b' ) {
    //convert the string to an integer
    //(start at the second character, or the beginning of the string '+1')
    colorVal = atoi(serInString+1);
    Serial.print("setting color ");
    Serial.print(" to ");

    if(colorCode == 'r')
      analogWrite(redPin, colorVal);
    else if(colorCode == 'g')
      analogWrite(greenPin, colorVal);
    else if(colorCode == 'b')
      analogWrite(bluePin, colorVal);

//compare two strings to see if they are equal
//compares the first 'numCharacters' characters of string1 and string2 to
//see if they are the same
//E.g. stringsEqual("hello","hello",5) => true
//     stringsEqual("hello","helaabbnn",3) => true
//     stringsEqual("hello","helaa",5) => false
boolean stringsEqual(char *string1, char *string2, int numCharacters) {
  if (strncmp(string1, string2, numCharacters) == 0) {
    return true;
  } else {
    return false;

ArduinoProject2 001.jpg20.64 KB
ArduinoProject2 002.jpg21.89 KB
ArduinoProject2 003.jpg11 KB


GSI Comments

Nice work -- I like that you tried several different diffusers. The side view of the shot glass is interesting, because it looks like the base of the glass diffuses the light much more than the sides do. It makes me wonder if just a thick piece of glass would do a good job of diffusing things.

One good way to learn more about Arduino code would be to try writing the assignment code from scratch, rather than using the example code provided (except to get help). If you feel comfortable with it, consider trying that out.

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