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Easy-to-program LED Pixel Strip

mrandy

Junior Member
#1
If you'll allow me to show off a bit, I've put together a project that I think might be of interest to the community. What I've made is a fully-programmable LED light strip.

A video is the best explanation, so here we go:

Edit: replaced old horrible video with new awesome video.


It's like the LED strips that a lot of us put on our copters and airplanes now, except that each LED is a different "pixel" and it's color and brightness can be set individually. These colors are fully animatable, refreshing at 30 frames per second or higher, and by using a micro SD card for storage, I've got practically unlimited memory for creating very long and intricate patterns. There is an RC input for remote control pattern switching, along with analog buttons for configuring settings like brightness and current limiting.

I'm considering home accent lighting as a possible application for this, in addition to RC, and I'm designing a weatherproof, contractor-friendly enclosure for the controller, to replace the shrink-wrapped version that I use for RC.

A few other features:

- although a single controller can drive 240 LEDs, multiple units can be linked together to run more complex patterns in synchronization
- input is 8-18v
- approx 3-4 amps max current draw, depending on input voltage and light patterns / brightness
- software upgradeable via USB to support future features

The second major part to this project is the design tools. This is still a work in progress, but I've written web-based converters to take an image file in, and convert each scan line into a "frame" of animation. I've been using this and Photoshop to design and test patterns pretty quickly. I'm working on something similar for inputting video files, and I'm written an online LED simulator, to test patterns instantly. My big plan for the future is to add a management layer on top of this to build up libraries of patterns that can be mixed and matched quickly.

So what do you think? Any ideas for additional functionality? Anyone want one?
 
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mrandy

Junior Member
#3
I just posted a new video with my light controller attached to a 1-meter octo. It looks pretty sweet, in my humble opinion:


The copter is a tarot octo with 15" props and 16 feet of LED strips. It definitely drew a crowd in the neighborhood.

Programming the lights to sync to music was interesting. It was mostly just figuring out the correct framerate and how many frames corresponded to one beat of music, then coming up with a photoshop template to divide a drawing into "beats" on the vertical axis, and "channels" 1-8 on the horizontal axis, representing the 8 arms of the copter. Then each pixel in the drawing represents one LED, and from there's it's just a whole lotta drawing with small brushes.
 

Flynn

New member
#5
That looks amazing! What microprocessor are you using? I've been experimenting with the arduino a bit. Love to know more.

Great music btw, from a great movie ;p
 

mrandy

Junior Member
#6
Your videos are "not available at this moment"?
Well that's no good! I suppose it's because I'm using a copyrighted song that's not licensed for YouTube use in Germany? I'll try to post a version tonight with an unencumbered soundtrack.
 

mrandy

Junior Member
#7
That looks amazing! What microprocessor are you using? I've been experimenting with the arduino a bit. Love to know more.

Great music btw, from a great movie ;p
Thanks for the kind words! It is an arduino nano controlling the whole thing. I think I've pushed it about as far as it can go (famous last words, right?!) - it's using all but a few bytes of memory, lots of IO and CPU time. The code is closed-source, since I'm trying to sell thing thing, but I'd be happy to chat if you get into any similar projects and want to discuss coding them.
 

Balu

Moderator
Staff member
#9
Well that's no good! I suppose it's because I'm using a copyrighted song that's not licensed for YouTube use in Germany? I'll try to post a version tonight with an unencumbered soundtrack.
Usually we get some kind of "GEMA" message than. But I get a different message at the moment. We'll see.