Amazing Analysis of a 350,000 LED Airport Art Project

Before you zip to the comments to scream “not a hack,” watch a few minutes of this teardown video. This 48 minute detailed walkthrough of a one-off art piece shows every aspect of the project: every requirement, design decision, implementation challenge, and mistake. Some notable details:

  • PCBs that are 1 meter wide (all one piece!)
  • 350,000 white LEDs
  • Carbon fiber enclosures
  • 1-wire serial bus (like the WS2812 only not quite) with 12 bit resolution (TLC5973)
  • Customized cable test jigs, PCB test jigs, and test modes
  • An exploration on ESD issues in production

It’s not often that one sees teardowns of professional projects like this, and there’s quite a bit to learn from in here, besides it being a beautiful piece of art. See more about the Caviar House “Emergence” project at the Heathrow Airport, along with stunning pictures and video of the display in action.

If you’re thinking about how you’d control 350,000 individual LEDs with 12 bit grayscale and have it look smooth, check out the processor requirements behind the megascroller, which only handles 98,000 LEDs. More recently, we asked how many LEDs are too many, and the answer was quite a bit lower than 350k.

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How Many LEDs are Too Many?

“Should you answer a rhetorical question?” But anyway, the answer is that you can never have enough LEDs. At least that’s what [Adam Haile] at maniacallabs seems to think. So far, he’s up to 3,072.

We’ve reported on a previous big-LED build of [Adam]’s before, called the “Colossus”. And while this current display is physically smaller, it’s got a lot more LEDs. And that means a lot more, well, everything else. Weighing in at roughly 500W when full-on, with 175-part 3D printed frame and diffuser elements and driven by three Teensy 3.2 microcontrollers driving shift registers, this display is capable of putting out 60 frames per second of blinding RGB LED goodness.

The designs, adapter boards, and animation code will be posted once they’ve “had a chance to clean things up a little”. Here’s hoping that’s soon! [Edit: Code and designs are here. Thanks Adam!]

If you’re in the greater Washington DC area, you can even swing by the NoVA Maker Faire in Reston to check it out in person. If you do, tell ’em Hackaday sent you.

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The biggest CNC machine can build a house

 

If it’s true that those with the biggest toys win, a few lucky engineers over at EEW Maschinenbau in Germany just earned a gold medal; they have access to a gigantic CNC machine that is large enough to machine a house.

This machine was originally built to manufacture molds for fiberglass wind turbines that are over 50 meters in length. Because building a 50-meter-long CNC machine wasn’t overkill enough, engineers at EEW Maschinenbau settled on a design that is 151 meters long, or almost 500 feet. Of course the HSM-Modal, as this machine is called, can only make parts 151 meters long in the x dimension. The y-axis has a span of 9 meters while the z-axis goes from 0 to 4.25 meters off the ground. Large enough to build cars, ship hulls, and even houses out of a single block of material.

There’s a bunch of technical documentation on the EEW website and a PDF going over the specs. Not only can this gigantic mill machine molds much like an embiggened desktop CNC router, this thing can do drilling, sawing, grinding, plasma cutting, and even extrusion just like a Makerbot.

If you’ve got the cash, EEW Maschinenbau will build you one of these gigantic machines. We can’t imagine how much that would cost, though.

via the Adafruit blog