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Network Controlled Decorative LED Matrix Frame

LED-Pixel-FrameThere is nothing better than a project that you can put on display for all to see. [Tristan's] most recent project, a Decorative LED Matrix Frame, containing 12×10 big square pixels that can display any color, is really cool.

Having been built around a cheap IKEA photo frame this project is very doable, at least for those of you with a 3D printer. The 3D printer is needed to create the pixel grid, which ends up looking very clean in the final frame. From an electronics perspective, the main components are a set of Adafruit Neopixel LED strips, and an Arduino Uno with an Ethernet shield. The main controller even contains a battery backup for the real time clock (RTC) when the frame is unplugged; a nice touch. Given that the frame is connected to the local network, [Tristan] designed the frame to be controlled by a simple HTML5 interface (code available on GitHub). This allows any locally connected device to control the frame.

Be sure to check out the build details, they are very well done. If you are still not convinced how cool this project is, be sure to check out a video of it in action after the break! It makes us wish that you could play Tetris on this frame. Very nice job [Tristan]!

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Seeker Hats Find Each other With Directional LEDs

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

[John Petersen] created a very cool piece of wearable technology for him and his son. Eager to explore the Maker Fair, but not eager to lose his son in the crowds, he’s come up with the Seeker Hat — a kind of auto-locating GPS hat which always points towards the other.

It’s a clever setup that makes use of a GPS module, a microprocessor, a xBee wireless chip, a compass, and LEDs to light the way. The GPS determines the hat’s approximate location, the xBee transmits it to the other hat, the digital compasses determine the directions of both hats, and the microprocessor figures out the azimuth, resulting in a difference in trajectory of the two — a strip of LEDs, like landing lights, direct you in the right direction.

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From 300W to 10W — A LED Lighting Solution

LED halogen light

Halogen lights are great — they produce lots of bright warm light, but they suck a lot of juice to run. [Sven] had found a nice floor lamp years ago that was in pretty rough shape — his wife redecorated it, and he fixed it up, but between the 300W power consumption and the lack of a dimmer circuit (this thing was bright!), he knew he had to upgrade.

Like we recommend for all projects, [Sven] started by setting some goals for the conversion. He wanted to keep the warm light color tone, produce over 700lm, allow for dimming via remote, and work with presence detection.

He sourced a 10W power LED which requires 12V @950mA to run, which almost stumped him as it turns out there aren’t many LED drivers of that specification even available! Luckily, he managed to find one from China that wasn’t too large and would fit in the lamp cover with the other components. He found a large heat sink for the LED, and for safety, has even wired it up with a temperature sensor to his Arduino in order to shut it down if it gets too hot. The Arduino also provides the dimming circuit and remote control capabilities.

[Sven] admits that the end result isn’t that pretty, but lucky for him, it stands about 6′ tall so no one can see the jumble of wires and components inside! This is also only the first iteration, as he plans on upgrading it further — as it turns out, 700lm isn’t quite enough.

Industrial Light Painting Steps It Up A Few

industrial light painting

What would you do if you had access to an industrial ABB IRB 6640 robot? We’d probably make a giant 3D printer, but if you’re [Jeff Crossman] and [Kevyn McPhail], you’d make one of the most advanced light painting setups we’ve ever seen.

The setup itself is really quite simple — a single RGB LED is connected to a Teensy microcontroller on a tool-head for the robot — controlling the robot is the hard (fun?) part. To create the images, [Jeff] had several students come in to have their photographs taken using a Microsoft Kinect. This allowed him to create an RGB point cloud for the robot to recreate.

Using Rhino he created the tool paths required for the robot to build up a floating 3D image of the students for the camera taking the long exposure. Each demonstration made use of ~5000 points, which takes the robot arm about 25 minutes to place.

It’s a fascinating video, and yes it does seem like a bit of overkill, but hey — why not?

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The Megascroller, For Video Games In The Round

megascroller

The folks at NYC Resistor have a thing for circular displays, it seems. Their earlier Hexascroller was a ceiling mounted display with six 30×7 displays – good enough to display the time and a few textual message in six directions. The Octoscroller bumped up the display capability with eight 16×32 RGB LED panels. Now the Megascroller, a 32-sided 512×64 display is hanging in the hackerspace, complete with 360° Mario and Pong.

The Megascroller is one of [Trammell Hudson]‘s projects, constructed out of sixty-four 32×16 RGB LED matrices. That’s an impressive amount of controllable LEDs, that required a lot of processing power: namely, the BeagleBone-powered LEDscape board used in their earlier Octoscroller

As far as applications go, they naturally have Pong, but a more interesting application is the side-scrolling Mario that requires you to move around the display as you play. You can check out a video of that below.

If you’d like to see the Megascroller in person, as well as a whole bunch of other crazy blinking interactive projects, NYC Resistor is holding a an interactive show this weekend, beer provided.

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Koch Lamp is 3D Printed with a Twist

Koch Lamp

[repkid] didn’t set out to build a lamp, but that’s what he ended up with, and what a lamp he built. If the above-pictured shapes look familiar, it’s because you can’t visit Thingiverse without tripping over one of several designs, all based on a fractal better known as the Koch snowflake. Typically, however, these models are intended as vases, but [repkid] saw an opportunity to bring a couple of them together as a housing for his lighting fixture.

Tinkering with an old IKEA dioder wasn’t enough of a challenge, so [repkid] fired up his 3D printer and churned out three smaller Koch vases to serve as “bulbs” for the lamp. Inside, he affixed each LED strip to a laser-cut acrylic housing with clear tape. The three bulbs attach around a wooden base, which also holds a larger, central Koch print at its center. The base also contains a PICAXE 14M2 controller to run the dioder while collecting input from an attached wireless receiver. The final component is a custom control box—comprised of both 3D-printed and laser-cut parts—to provide a 3-dial remote. A simple spin communicates the red, green, and blue values through another PICAXE controller to the transmitter. Swing by his site for a detailed build log and an assortment of progress pictures.

 

Custom Electronics and LED Panels Brighten Up a Nightclub

ledPanels

When [Robert] is presented with a challenge, he doesn’t back down. His friend dreamed of reusing some old LED panels by mounting them to the ceiling of the friend’s night club. Each panel consists of a grid of five by five red, green, and blue LEDs for a total of 75 LEDs per panel. It sounded like a relatively simple task but there were a few caveats. First, the controller box that came with the panels could only handle 16 panels and the friend wanted to control 24 of them. Second, the only input device for the controller was an infrared remote. The friend wanted an easy way for DJ’s to control the color of the panels and the infrared remote was not going to cut it. Oh yea, he also gave [Robert] just three weeks to make this happen.

[Robert] started out by building a circuit that could be duplicated to control each panel. The brain of this circuit is an ATtiny2313. For communication between panels, [Robert] chose to go with the DMX protocol. This was a good choice considering DMX is commonly used to control stage lighting effects. The SN75176 IC was chosen to handle this communication. In his haste to get this PCB manufactured [Robert] failed to realize that the LED panels were designed common cathode, as opposed to his 25 shiny new PCB’s which were designed to work with a common anode design. To remedy this, he switched out all of the n-channel MOSFET with p-channel MOSFET. He also spent a couple of hours manually cutting through traces and rewiring the board. After all of this, he discovered yet another problem. The LED’s were being powered from the same 5V source as the microcontroller. This lead to power supply issues resulting in the ATtiny constantly resetting. The solution was to add some capacitors.

Click past the break for more on [Robert's] LED panels.

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