Ambilight clone built from Arduino and ShiftBrite modules

[Don] put together a guide that will help you build your own Ambilight Clone for about $40 plus the cost of an Arduino. He’s using it with the HTPC seen above, and utilized modular concepts in building it so that you can easily disconnect your Arduino board when you want to use it for prototyping.

For RGB light sources [Don] grabbed six ShiftBrite modules. These are fully addressable cascading modules which make for very easy hardware setup. Instead of buying a driver shield he built his own using an LM317, heat sink, and wall wart to source enough current to drive all of the modules.

We really enjoy the mounting scheme used. Each module is attached to a piece of acrylic which is then mounted using the standard threaded VESA mounting holes on the back of the monitor. As with other Ambilight clones this one uses the Boblight package to get color information from the video as it plays.

Shiftbrite coffee table

Here’s a project we’ve been wanting to do for a while. Over at they’ve posted an LED coffee table that uses a 9×9 RGB LED grid. For the LEDs, they used the shiftbrite modules we’ve seen before. The table is capable of displaying pre written patterns as well as accepting patterns from a computer via bluetooth. They’ve set it up to connect to a twitter feed and display to a live cam on their site. Though we would love to reproduce this, we need a little more justification than “ooooh, shiny”  for the funds involved. Anyone want to donate 100 shiftbrights?

Parts: ShiftBrite RGB LED module (A6281)


Macetech’s ShiftBrite is a high-power RGB LED coupled with an Allegro A6281 backpack. The A6281 uses three 10bit pulse-width modulators to mix millions of colors using the red, green, and blue elements in the RGB LED. Multiple modules can be chained together for bigger projects, like the ShiftBrite table.

Below the break we demonstrate a ShiftBrite module using the Bus Pirate. For a limited time you can get your own Bus Pirate, fully assembled and shipped worldwide, for only $30.

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A ShiftBrite Christmas

[Garrett] took 30 of his ShiftBrite modules and mounted them to his front fence for Christmas. The ShiftBrite is a serially addressable high output RGB LED. The individual modules are quite adept at applications like this where you’re stringing multiple lights together. They have identical buses on either side, specifically for daisychaining. The installation above looks great.

A Colorful Clock for Toddlers

[Don] and his wife were looking for a way to teach their two-year old daughter how to tell time. She understood the difference between day and night, but she wasn’t old enough to really comprehend telling the actual time. [Don’s] solution was to simplify the problem by breaking time down into colored chunks representing different tasks or activities. For example, if the clock is yellow that might indicate that it’s time to play. If it’s purple, then it’s time to clean up your room.

[Don] started with a small, battery operated $10 clock from a local retailer. The simple clock had a digital readout with some spare room inside the case for extra components. It was also heavy enough to stay put on the counter or on a shelf. Don opened up the clock and got to work with his Dremel to free up some extra space. He then added a ShiftBrite module as a back light. The ShiftBrite is a high-brightness LED module that is controllable via Serial. This allows [Don] to set the back light to any color he wants.

[Don] already had a Raspberry Pi running his DIY baby monitor, so he opted to just hijack the same device to control the ShiftBrite. [Don] started out using a Hive13 GitHub repo to control the LED, but he found that it wasn’t suitable for this project. He ended up forking the project and altering it. His alterations allow him to set specific colors and then exit the program by typing a single command into the command line.

The color of the ShiftBrite is changed according to a schedule defined in the system’s crontab. [Don] installed Minicron, which provides a nice web interface to make it more pleasant to alter the cron job’s on the system. Now [Don] can easily adjust his daughter’s schedule via web page as needed.


A blinky fedora to ring in the New Year


[Garrett Mace] decided to dress festive for New Year’s Eve. What he came up with is a fedora ringed in LEDs that react to music. The hardware uses 5050 LEDs on strips. Three of them encircle the head-gear providing a total of 114 RGB pixels. Each is a WS2811 module — a part which we’re seeing more and more of lately.

The video clip after the break starts off with a few minutes of demonstration. [Garrett] managed to code all kinds of animations for the hardware including several different styles of color sweeps and fades. You may start to think that the three bands always display the same patterns but keep watching and you’ll see a sparkle pattern that proves each dot can be addressed individually.

About 2:20 seconds into the video [Garrett] explains how he pulled it off and shows off the driver hardware. The strips are glued to a band of webbing that slides over the hat. The wires that drive the lights were fed through the center of some paracord and connect to an Arduino housed in a 3D printed case. Power is provided by a portable USB battery with a ShiftBrite shield and an MSGEQ7 chip complete the parts list.

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Blinkenwall controlled by a C64

Looking for a dual monitor setup for your Commodore 64? Look no further than the C64 controlled Blinkenwall put together over at Metalab.

The Blinkenwall is 45 glass blocks serving as a partition between the main room and the library over at Metalab in Vienna. Previously, the Blinkenwall was illuminated by 45 ShiftBrite RGB LED boards controlled by an Arduino connected to a Fonera router over a serial port. The Metalab guys have an awesome web interface that allows them (and you) to compose 45-pixel animations and play them on the Blinkenwall.

The new hardware update includes a Commodore 64, a Final Cartridge III, and the ever popular Commodore tape drive. now, instead of sending animation patterns over the Internet to an Arduino, the folks at Metalab can write their animations as 6510 assembly and save it on a cassette.

Yes, this may be a bit of an anachronism, but think of the possibilities: Prince of Persia on a 9×5 display, or just a light show to go along with some SID tunes. You can check out the video after the break.

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