Motion Through Time Painted in Light

Photographer [Stephen Orlando] has an awesome body of work that focuses on human motion. The images he captures with colored light and a camera set up in a setting of choice tell a story of time in a way that’s visually stunning.

[Stephen] has experimented with various types of action. He’s attached LED strips onto props like oars in order to capture the rhythmic movements of rowing, or directly onto parts of the body to visualize more chaotic gestures, like the forms of a martial artist. His camera is set up to take long exposures, soaking in the light as it plots itself through space over time.


Though this isn’t a hack directly in itself, [Stephen’s] experimentation with time and light is a great case of technology being added to the arsenal of traditional mediums we’re accustomed to seeing in the production of artistic work. The clean execution of his idea to tell a story about what we don’t typically get to see by use of light should inspire all of us who love to play around with LEDs in our projects. Sometimes the more interesting aspects of our work are created in the negative space we forget to consider.

The next time you find yourself working on a hack, look at what you’re creating from a perspective beyond its original context. For example, 3D printing with a delta robot is a bit of a departure from it’s original purpose as a pick and place machine. Even further yet is the concept of using one to draw images in space with light. Often the process of somethings creation, as well as the byproduct of what it took to make it, is just as worthy of investigation. Don’t forget to search between the lines… that’s where the magic is.

Measuring the Length of WS2812 Strips

[Tim] discovered a simple way to measure the length of WS2812 addressable LED strips from a microcontroller. This is great for any project that can have an arbitrary length of addressable LED strip attached to it.

The simplest (and perhaps most reliable) way to measure strip length is by feeding the serial output pin of the end of the strip back to the microcontroller. The microcontroller keeps clocking bits into the strip until it receives data from the end of the strip. [Tim] didn’t want to run an additional signal to the end of his strip, so he found another solution.

[Tim] used the ADC of his microcontroller (an ATtiny) to measure supply voltage droop as LEDs are turned on. Each LED draws around 60mA at full brightness, so [Tim] sequentially turned on each LED and watched the ADC for slight voltage changes. If the voltage changed, there must be an LED at that address. [Tim] does note that this method is extremely dependent on the power supply used and only works on short strips. Check out his blog post for more details.

HammerPong Game Takes Pong to New Heights

large scoreboard with lots of flashy lights

[Jason] is back at it again with another new twist on the technically sophisticated and advanced game of Pong. Fashioned in a ‘Chuck E. Cheese’ style platform, the two players stand side by side each other with large foam hammers. A wack sends the 32 bit ARM powered dot skyward and then back down to the other player, where another wack will send the dot back whence it came. A brightly lit scoreboard keeps track of how many dots slip by.

[Jason] is a veteran of pong inspired games, but putting the HammerPong game together brought with it some new challenges. After being unable to squeeze a few MDF panels into his car, and fighting off flies, yard debris and pet dander that were trying to attach themselves to his freshly painted artwork, [Jason] managed to get his project completed.

The HammerPong is powered by an Arduino Due that controls six WS2812 LED strips and runs the background code. Various latches, shift registers and power transistors control the lights and scoreboard. Be sure to check out the linked project for more detail, and take a look at the video demonstration after the break.

Continue reading “HammerPong Game Takes Pong to New Heights”

Building a Network Controllable RGB LED Lamp from an Old Scanner


Being able to use one of your old projects to make a new one better can be quite satisfying. [Steve] from Hackshed did just this: he integrated an Arduino based webserver into a new network controllable RGB lamp.

What makes this lamp unique is that the RGB LED bar comes from an old Epson scanner. Recycling leftover parts from old projects or derelict electronics is truly the hacker way. After determining the pinout and correct voltage to run the LEDs at, the fun began. With the LED bar working correctly, the next step was to integrate an Arduino based webserver. Using an SD card to host the website and an Ethernet Arduino shield, the LEDs become network controllable. Without missing a beat, [Steve] integrated a Javascript based color picker that supports multiple web browsers. This allows the interface to look quite professional. Be sure to watch the lamp in action after the break!

The overall result is an amazing color changing lamp that works perfectly. All that is left to do is create a case for it, or integrate it into an existing lamp. This is a great way to use an LED strip that would have otherwise gone to waste. If you can’t find a scanner with a color wand like this one, you can always start with an RGB strip.

Continue reading “Building a Network Controllable RGB LED Lamp from an Old Scanner”

3D Printed RGB LED Bracelet


[Marcus’s] 3D-printed LED bracelet has moved through a number of revisions recently, but each iteration is impressive in both simplicity and functionality. Inspired to experiment with his print of [nervoussystem’s] Diagrid Bracelet, [Marcus] took the opportunity to add some LEDs with his first build, which combined a strip of RGB LEDs, a small battery, and an Adafruit Trinket microcontroller.

A second build soon followed, which overhauled the bracelet’s design into a more solid form and managed to double the amount of LEDs by upgrading to a different strip. The bracelet is currently in its third revision, cycling through the spectrum for around 3.5 hours on a single charge. This build also sports a 3-axis accelerometer: when the wearer shakes the bracelet, the colors skip around. If shaken long enough, the bracelet will enter a dazzling flurry of color flickering. Stick around after the break for a few demonstration videos. If you want to print your own, head over to [Marcus’s] Thingiverse file.

Continue reading “3D Printed RGB LED Bracelet”

RFID RGB Lamp Goes the Distance


[Philippe Chrétien’s] project makes it to our front page just based on its completeness. When you hear about a multicolored lamp which changes based on an RFID tag you might not get too excited. When you look at the refined electronics and the quality of the wooden enclosure it’s another story entirely.

As we’ve said many times before, coming up with the idea for a project is the hardest part… especially when you just want to start hacking. With his kids in mind [Philippe] figured this would be something fun for them to play around with, opening the door to discussing the electronics concepts behind it.

He prototyped on a breadboard using three N-type MOSFETs to drive the colors of an RGB LED strip. The proven circuit was laid out and etched at home to arrive at the clean-looking Arduino shield shown off above. The entire thing gets a custom enclosure cut using layered plywood, a paper template, and a bandsaw.

Need a use for this once the novelty has worn off? Why not mod it to use as a motion activated night light? Alas the actual project link for that one is dead, but you get the idea.

As Millenials grow up do they demand cooler LED sneakers?


We’re hoping that whomever came up with the idea of integrating LEDs into children’s shoes is kicking back on a beach somewhere living off the residuals of the idea. We see those things everywhere. Now the real question is, if you grew up with LEDs in your shoes do you expect cooler light up kicks as you age? [Becky Stern] must think so and that’s why she’s showing off Adafruit’s addressable LED strip shoe project called Firewalker.

This is prototype rather than product, so you can see the Arduino compatible Flora board on the ankle of the lit shoe above. There’s also a battery pack hitching a ride on the laces. But those worried about that fashion faux pas can work on a more finished driver that straps to your calf, or can be integrated in the insole.

Lighting patterns are set off by Velostat, a pressure-sensitive conductive sheet that goes in the heel of the insole. The Flora board measures the resistance, triggering a light show (embedded below) when it drops. Now we just need someone to integrate a power generator based on your movement.

Continue reading “As Millenials grow up do they demand cooler LED sneakers?”