FLASH.IT: The RGB LED climbing wall

rockWallLEDs2

[Chris] and his friends were kicking around ideas for a Burning Man project, and this is the one that stuck: a rock climbing wall with RGB LEDs embedded in the holds. The holds themselves were custom made; the group started by making silicone molds of varying shapes and sizes, then added the electronics and poured in polyurethane resin to create the casting. The boards for these LEDs are equipped with a central hole that pairs up with a peg in the silicone mold. [Chris] also solved an annoying spinning problem by affixing a bolt to the far end of the LED board: once embedded in the polyurethane, the bolt provides resistance that the thin board cannot. The finished holds bolt onto the wall with all their wires neatly sticking out of the back to be hooked up to a central controller.

The Instrucables page suggests a few ways to get the lights working, including grabbing the nearest Arduino and relying on the Neopixel Library from Adafruit. [Chris] went the extra mile for Burning Man, however, designing Arduino-software-compatible controller boards capable of communicating via DMX, which expanded the system from a simple display to one capable of more complex lighting control. Stop by the Github for schematics and PCB layouts, and stick around for a video of the wall after the break. If the thrill-seeking outdoorsman inside you yearns for more, check out WALL-O-TRON from earlier this summer.

[Read more...]

Embedded DMX controller for Burning Man

embedded-dmx-controller

This is the lighting controller [Paul Stoffregen] built for Burning Man. They wanted to go with DMX controlled lighting this year but that most often includes a computer to run the lighting sequences. This board runs the preprogrammed DMX sequence using a hacked lighting design file.

The choreography for the lighting was planned out using a program called Vixen 2. There is one newer version of the software, but [Paul] needed to translate the output file for use with a microcontroller and version 2 makes this a bit easier than version 3. Speaking of conversion, he didn’t want to start from square one and a bit of searching led to a tutorial which [Bill Porter] posted last year on converting Vixen files for use with Arduino. It wasn’t exactly what he had in mind, but most of the ground work was there.

A few code tweaks bent the script to [Paul's] will. He changed the XML parsing function to ignore all but the main channels in the file. He also had it output a text file which can be stored on the SD card. Because the output is not being flashed to a chip this greatly increases the storage available paving the way for much longer and more complex shows.

Want to learn more about the protocol used by DMX equipment? Check out this primer.

Looking toward Christmas decor by learning about DMX

So Halloween finally arrived, we hope you had enough time to pull off your frightening feats in the way you had originally envisioned. Now it’s time again to look to the future and start planning this year’s Christmas decorations. Lights are always a popular theme, and this year you might want to look into DMX lighting controls and decide if that’s a route you want to take. [Akiba] has your back, he just put together a set of videos explaining the DMX lighting protocol and how to use it with an Arduino.

The thought here is that the Arduino can be used as a sort of DMX hub that is connected directly to a computer running open source controller hardware. It can send commands which the Arduino decodes, deciding whether to just pass them on to DMX compatible devices, or to do what it does best and control other hardware that is not normally accessible through the lighting command protocol. To the control program your four-dollar strand of LED lights looks no different from a thousand dollar stage light, making it cheap and easy to build your own entertaining holiday show right in your front yard. See the second video in this series after the break where [Akibo] details the hardware setup for his system. The other parts are available at the link above.

Be careful, this can be a consuming endeavor. Don’t believe us? Just look around and you’ll find no shortage of large DMX builds just for Christmas lights.

[Read more...]

Impressive lighting console offers professional features for a fraction of the price

diy_dmx_lighting_control_panel

Hackaday reader [Michael] wrote in to share the build details of an impressive lighting console he has been working on for some time. He says that the 36+ channel console is on par with lighting rigs costing upwards of $5,000, but his was constructed for just around $1,000 – quite the substantial savings.

The console was constructed around an old IBM desktop computer, which handles all of the DMX output as well as preset management. An array of 20 ATMega 328Ps running the Arduino bootloader are scattered throughout the device, 18 of which are used to manage the six fader panels, while the remaining two handle management tasks. Aside from the fader banks, the console features a main control board featuring several LCD screens along with 17 capacitive touch buttons used for menu navigation and console control.

While [Michael] is finished building the board, he has just begun the documentation of the construction process. His blog should be updated regularly with more details, so be sure to check back often. Code, as well as hopefully tons of pictures and videos are all forthcoming.

[Edit: Cost comparison update]

20-channel DMX controller

[Joshua] shares his details on building this 20-channel DMX controller. He’s sourced some extension cords to cut up for the complicated wiring project. He plans to drive 120V lights with the system so he’s also using the extension cords to connect a bunch of outlet boxes to the main controller. Inside you’ll find a set of AVR chips ready for your commands. Instead of using jumpers or DIP switches to set their addresses he set them in the firmware and burned a different version to each chip. The key here is writing the address right on the chips to prevent any confusion.

This will be used of Halloween and Christmas displays. We love Halloween hacks just about as much as we love Christmas hacks, so hit the basement and don’t forget to share the result of your labors with us.

DMX keyboard display

This keyboard display has an RGB LED for each key that is addressable through the common stage lighting protocol, DMX. The project video, seen after the break, does a good job of walking us through the concept. By using a MIDI to DMX converter box [John] can show MIDI signals coming from a keyboard on the appropriate key of the display. By further monkeying with the firmware in the converter box he shows a plasma effect on the whole keyboard, making the corresponding light for each pressed key pop out in bright white. Jump to about 3:45 to hear and see “Sweet Child o’ Mine”.

This isn’t the first time [John's] been caught with a slew of blinking lights. He helped create the giant LED Christmas tree that brightened up our holiday.

[Read more...]

Strobe array for dance parties

Check out this slick strobe array for dance parties. Controlled by a DMX512 interface, only a small modification was necessary to get the strobes working. If you’ve played with a small commercial strobe light, you’ll know there’s a potentiometer to control the strobe speed. He simply soldered a relay after the pot. This allows him to tune them to be charged and ready for when the relay is closed.

[via HackedGadgets]