Adding a lot of twinkle to this rebar sculpture

Blinky lights have a way of attracting attention and that’s exactly what the members of the Maui Makers hackerspace were shooting for. The sculpture above is the logo for the Source festival, a Burning Man inspired music gathering in the Aloha state. For this year’s festival they went crazy, installing twelve meters of RGB LED strip controlled by seven Arduino boards.

The goal was to make the twelve-foot tall sculpture into a lighted interactive showpiece. In addition to the LEDs it includes a microphone, capacitance sensors, Bluetooth connectivity, and a piezo speaker. There’s one Arduino to rule them all, with another Teensy controller to drive an LCD display in the control box, and five Teensy boards to address the LED strips. They grabbed [Bill Porter's] Easy Transfer library to facilitate communication between the microcontrollers (his libraries are becoming popular, we just saw his mp3 shield library used in another project on Tuesday).

The code which drives the LED animations is based on some Adafruit examples. We really enjoy the waving flag effect seen in the clip after the break.


  1. Zak says:

    A few shift registers could have cut down most if not all of those slave arduinos.

  2. trebu says:

    7 arduino boards!? what is this, troll bait?
    just saying.

    • soopergooman says:

      There’s one “Arduino to rule them all”,
      with another Teensy controller to drive an LCD display in the control box, and five Teensy boards to address the LED strips.

      no mention of 7 arduin’s, troll.

      • Olivier says:

        @soopergooman : Learn to read, troll : “installing twelve meters of RGB LED strip controlled by seven Arduino boards.”.


      • MauiJerry says:

        One Fredboard main controller + One Teensy 2.0 for TFT Display + 5 Teensy 2.0 as direct LED controllers. 1+1+5 = 7.
        No they are not made in the italian factory. They are arduino compatibles – more or less. See docs for caveats on Teensy. It is a great board with some firmware (etc) improvements over stick arduinos. Fredboard (FreakLabs) gives you a solderless prototype breadboard between the shield pins. Very handy for experiments and prototypes. Gotta use a soldered proto board (eg screw shield, etc) for fielded projects though.

  3. T80 says:

    Looks a little tacky in my opinion. Has a very unfinished and just kinda thrown together look to it. If he’d go through, straighten it up a little and make it look like something a bit better than some lights thrown on some metal, it’d be a great idea. It lacks a fluid look that you’d expect from something like this.

  4. jcool says:

    congrats on getting it working but maybe it was rushed? looks like a bunch of led strips that have no idea whats going on. To each their own =]

  5. MauiJerry says:

    Yes it was a bit rushed and unfinished. I was unable to attach the LED strips until I got to the festival – and then it was in the rain and mud. Interactivity suffered from location at event and failure of the IR Distance sensors. Having an audio feed/interaction would have made a BIG difference, but would need water/mud-proof microphone-arduino, and/or setup inside one of the dance/music tents. Maybe next year.

  6. cmholm says:

    The Source festival? Damn, this’ll teach me not to let my paper subscription run out. Just a few miles away, and I had no idea.

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