I know this is a little bit outside of the realm of "home improvement" but I thought this site was the best fit since it is full of handy people.

I am building a busy board for my nearly 2-year-old son. If you don't know what that is, it's basically a wooden board with switches, locks, noisy things and colorful things that I can sit my boy in front of to entertain him.

I wanted to take the opportunity to engage his mind too - so one of my ideas is to create a light/color area on the board.

Now, I have a VERY basic understanding of electronics, but not really enough experience with LEDs to know which direction to go. If presented the hardware, I could understand it and wire it, but I am not sure how to engineer this and am wondering if anyone has any experience doing something like this (maybe with interior mood lighting)?

My broad-stroke thoughts are to have a number of switches (or a multi-position switch) that controls a series of LEDs that are a variety of colors like this:

SWITCH 1        SWITCH 2       SWITCH3
  Red             Blue         Yellow

When he hits switch 1, he sees red. When he hits switch 1 and 2, he sees purple - or maybe he sees red and blue with a little purple in the middle (I'm not looking for perfection). I'm also open to the thought of using a multi-color LED or something to that affect.

My Concerns are:

  • Power: I am looking for something battery-operated since he is still too young to be messing with electrical cords.
  • Brightness: I am looking for something that isn't too bright. I know LEDs can be quite powerful if you look right at them. I was thinking of incorporating a piece of frosted plastic into some type of enclosure to diffuse the light.

If this isn't the right corner of Stack Exchange, please feel free to point me in the right direction. The Electrical Engineering area seemed a bit out of my league.

  • 1
    See adafruit.com – Tyson Jun 8 '17 at 11:50
  • Red, blue and yellow are not primary colors. If you did use primary colors, you would be able to simply have 3 LEDs of those colors behind a screen, and they would mix their colors, giving secondary colors. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 8 '17 at 12:49
  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about making a baby's toy, not home improvement. Please see the help center or Home Improvement Meta for more information. – Niall C. Jun 8 '17 at 13:49
  • @harper Red, blue and yellow are in fact the "primary colors" – Tyson Jun 8 '17 at 15:40
  • @tyson in paint. OP is working in light. Us fogeys were taught RYB, because it was thought at the time it would be most relevant to our careers. Who knew. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 8 '17 at 16:41

For light, you want to use red, green, and blue, due to colour magic. You can buy LED packages that contain these in one piece of plastic. Something like this.

Setting brightness is just picking the right resistor value. More resistance means less current flows, so less light. You could also use a potentiometer (in series with a resistor too) to allow variable amounts of each colour.

For power, I'd probably use 3xAA batteries in series.

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  • Thank you for holding my hand a bit and indulging something somewhat off topic. – Dutchie432 Jun 9 '17 at 1:10

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