PixelBrite is an LED wall/coffee table done right

pixelbrite

The scope of this project is almost as jaw-dropping as the cost of the parts. [LeoneLabs] calls the project PixelBrite. It’s a highly-polished modular RGB LED panel system, and he’s not keeping it a secret. We think it’s reasonable to call the build documentation mammoth. If you’re a fan of fast-motion assembly videos he’s got you covered there as well.

It’s interesting to compare this build to some of the Daft Punk tables from years back. It shows how economies of scale in the hobby electronics industry have helped new and affordable products to emerge. For instance, this offering is a 10×10 grid which is outside of the normal 8 pixel wide orientation dictated by 8-bit microcontrollers. The reason for the change is that this doesn’t use a matrix built with point-to-point soldering. It uses a string of RGB pixels (WS2801).

The enclosure is also a thing of beauty. The dividers that make up each cell are laser cut foam board. This makes the joints very tight to prevent light from leaking into the next cell. The housing is acrylic held in place by an aluminum rail system. Need more than one panel? No problem, a single connector chains one panel to the next. But we did mentioned the cost of materials. Unassembled you can expect to drop over five hundred bones for the pleasure of seeing this thing blink.

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Heart-shaped project takes no shortcuts

heart-shaped-project

If all [Blake] wanted to do is scroll “Blake loves Kim” on some LEDs he could have stopped with the breadboard version of the project. Or hastily craft a cardboard heart around the marquee. But he really just used this heart-shaped electronics project as an excuse to get his feet wet with several different types of manufacturing.

The project started as a simple scrolling message pendant. Something along these lines. His very small LED module was being driven by an ATtiny85. He planned to run it from battery which is a perfect excuse to learn how to use the sleep functions built into the chip.

The initial design worked so well he decided to lay out his own circuit board. This made it quite simple to add in a side-positioned button to wake from sleep, and a coin cell battery holder on the back. He used OSH Park for board manufacturing — good thing they allow creative board outlines. To protect the circuitry he also ordered laser-cut acrylic plates that work in conjunction with stand offs to form a case.

He mentions he missed his Valentine’s Day delivery date by a long shot. But that’s how these sort of things go, right?

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Visualize Twitter with an LED matrix

visualizing-twitter

What’s your favorite color? Don’t tell us, Tweet it to [Sebastian's] favorite color Twitter display and you’ll be contributing to the artwork hanging on his wall.

This answers a very important question, what do you do with your projects after they’re completed? For us the best part is the planning and building. Once it’s done the thrill is pretty much gone for us. We haven’t even switched on our Ping Pong clock in over a year. But [Sebastian] recently dusted his 10×10 LED matrix for this project.

Tweets are parsed by a Python project he wrote to try out the Twitter API. It looks for a set list of colors . He asserts that people aren’t that creative when you solicit their favorite color but to prove him wrong we’re going to say our favorite is Amaranth. After it finds the color it pushes it to the next pixel in the spiraling pattern shown above. But wait, there’s more! To give the pixels a but if extra meaning he uses the total length of the tweet to set intensity.

If you need a Titter enabled hack that displays a bit more specific data you’ll want something that can actually display what was Tweeted.

Making a QR clock bigger, cheaper, and better

LEDs

With the massive response and blog cred from his QR Code clock, [ch00f] felt it was time to step up his game and update his design to a proper commercial product. His new QR clock is bigger, brighter, cheaper, and in every way better than the old version, but these improvements came at a cost.

The LED matrices [ch00f] used in his earlier, smaller version weren’t very aesthetically pleasing. He wanted the lights to shine a brilliant white, and also be somewhat attractive when not illuminated. The 8×8 LED arrays [ch00f] picked up from Futurlec had a disgusting yellow coating on each LED that turned light emitted by the blue LEDs inside to a brilliant white. This simply wouldn’t do for a commercial product with [ch00f]‘s name on it, so he turned to the one place in the universe where everything was for sale: alibaba.com.

After some trials and tribulations with component manufacturers in China, [ch00f] had the perfect LED matrix; not too expensive, very good quality control, and something that looked really good when both unpowered and illuminated.

Now that his boards are being spun up, [ch00f] hopes to sell his QR clock on Tindie. Each 24×24 LED matrix should cost less than $100, a pretty good deal if you ask us. He’d like to know if anyone out there has any feature requests, to which we can only say he should get rid of the PCB border. Tiling a few of these displays and controlling them via serial would be much cooler than a QR Code clock.

MSP430 Launchpad Game of Life shield

[100uf] built an LED matrix shield for the MSP430 launchpad. His goal with this design was to have it play Conway’s Game of Life. It does just that, as you can see in the clip after the break. But it’s just waiting to learn some more tricks. After he tires of watching the cellular automaton he can try his hand at making some LED pendant animations.

As you can tell, the board was made in his home workshop. It’s not etched, but milled using the CNC machine shown in this image gallery. This is a single-sided PCB, which works well enough for the surface mount components and the downward facing pin sockets. But we wonder how difficult it was to solder the legs of that 8×8 LED matrix. It does have plastic feet at each corner that serve as standoffs to separate the body from the copper layer. But it still looks like a tight space into which he needed to get his iron and some solder.

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Pumpkin Tetris inspired by our own LED Jack-o-lantern

The kids (or maybe their parents) are going to be lined up at [Nathan's] front porch to get their turn at playing pumpkin Tetris. That’s right, he built a game of Tetris into a real pumpkin. We thought this looked quite familiar when we first saw it and indeed he was inspired by our own LED Matrix Pumpkin from two Halloweens ago. We love seeing derivative works and [Nathan] definitely make few great improvements to the process.

The matrix itself was wired in very much the same way we used, but he added an additional 58 LEDs to nearly double the size of the display. He used a paper grid and power drill to make room for the holes, but improved the visibility of the lights by sculpting square pixels in the skin of the fruit. But how does one control the game? The stem of the pumpkin is actually a joystick. One of the most innovative parts of the physical build was to use drywall anchors on the inside to mount the joystick hardware.

Don’t miss a demo video after the jump.

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Electronic demon costume is surprisingly unnerving

[Phil] over at Adafruit crashed last Sunday’s Show and Tell with an amazing demon costume that includes a voice changer and animated LED matrices for The Eyes and mouth. He just posted how he built this costume, but you’ve really got to Watch the video to see how awesome this build is.

Every demon needs a scary voice, so [Phil] repurposed his Arduino-based voice changer for this build. By being able to adjust the pitch of the demon’s voice with the turn of a knob, [Phil] goes from growling from the pits of hell to a demon with just a slightly annoying voice.

The Eyes make use of the Adafruit I2C LED matrix backpack. The eyes are wired to the same I2C address to prevent derping, but the three red mouth LED matrices are capable of displaying anything that fits on an 8×24 LED matrix.

The electronic portion of this build is mounted to a piece of plexiglas, which is in turn mounted to a mask [Phil] picked up from a craft store. Not really the best option considering the Halloween stores are now open for the year, but it does its job.

A Morphsuit – a spandex bodysuit – completes the build along with a few demon wings and horns. During Adafruit’s Show and Tell, [Phil] had electronic parts scattered all over his desk. To turn this into a costume, he’ll be mounting a small battery-powered speaker in a chest piece and stuffing all the electronics in a fanny pack.

It’s a very, very cool build that really steps up the game for Arduino-powered costumes. Check out the video after the break.

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