Finally, An Animated GIF Light Painter

led_strips_dragon-flap

Light painting, or taking a picture of a moving RGB LED strip with a very long exposure, is the application du jour of Arduinos, photography, and bright, glowey, colorful things. Hackaday alumnus [Phil Burgess] has come up with the best tutorial for light painting we’ve seen. It’s such a good setup, it can be used to create animated .gifs using multiple camera exposures.

The build uses an Arduino Uno, SD card shield, and Adafruit’s new NeoPixel strip with 144 RGB LEDs per meter. Despite a potentially huge mess of wires for this project, [Phil] kept everything very, very neat. He’s using an Altoids case for the ‘duino, an 8 AA-cell battery holder and 3A UBEC  for the power, and a wooden frame made out of pine trim.

Part of the art of light painting involves a lot of luck, exponentially so if you’re trying to make a light painted animated .gif. To solve this problem, [Phil] came up with a very clever solution: using a rotary encoder attached to a bicycle. With the rotary encoder pressed up against the wheel of a bike, [Phil] can get a very precise measurement of where the light strip is along one dimension, to ensure the right pixels are lit up at the right time and in the right place.

It’s a wonderful build, and if Santa brings you some gift certificates to your favorite electronics retailer, we couldn’t think of a better way to bring animated .gifs into the real world.

Comments

  1. Reggie says:

    why should there be a big mess of wires? 2 for power for the duino, 3? or is it 2 wires for the neopixel strip.

    Kudos for the animated gif though :-)

  2. jks says:

    “Despite a potentially huge mess of wires for this project” – yeah, clearly you didn’t bother to read the tutorial. http://learn.adafruit.com/neopixel-painter/wire-planning

    This is a fantastic build!

  3. that guy says:

    the best gif-in-real-life thingy i’ve seen:

  4. The pixelstick is really jaw dropping. The Neopixel strip is also very impressive. However for learning purposes I still advocate my much simpler solution. http://blog.blinkenlight.net/experiments/basic-effects/persistence-of-vision/

  5. Just in case someone did not notice: the neopixel is NOT suitable for POV while the Blinkenlight Shield definitely is.

  6. wieland says:

    Instead of an expensive optical encoder, use a stepper motor. resolution is usually 1.8°, more than enough given that a small knob (for example 16mm diameter) on a 26″ or 28″ wheel will do about 40 turns per wheel turn (which gives us about 0.05 ° resolution IF THE MECHANICAL CONNECTION IS DONE PROPERLY, i.e. NO slippage).

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