Part 2: Help me reverse engineer an LED light bulb

Almost a month ago I started trying to reverse engineer an inexpensive LED color changing light bulb. With your help I’ve mapped out the circuit, and taken control of the bulb. But there’s still a few mysteries in this little blinker. Join me after the break to see what I’ve done so far, peruse the schematic and source code, and to help solve the two remaining mysteries.

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Help me reverse engineer an LED light bulb

hack LED bulb

I went to the last monthly meeting of Sector 67, a hackerspace in Madison, WI. One of the things shown off was a color changing LED light bulb that Menards was clearing out for $1.99. Inside there’s two RGB LEDs controlled by an ATtiny13 and powered by an AC/DC buck converter. An ATtiny13 will run you around $1.25 by itself so this price is quite amazing. I grabbed a couple of these bulbs and set to work on them. Join me after the break to see what I’ve got so far.

Update: read a follow-up to this post.

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Light bulb form-factor computer

This computer can be mounted in any standard light bulb socket. It uses a pico projector combined with a camera to generate a touch display wherever you shine it. The photo above and the video after the break show the bulb in a motorized lamp arm but that’s just smoke and mirrors, the bulb itself is the core concept. We think there’s real potential for home-built versions. We’ve seen touch displays similar to this that mount on the side of a laptop, but why have the computer around at all? Ditch the USB connection for wireless and have it connect to your home server for processing power. It becomes a perfect solution for places that aren’t traditionally computer friendly. For instance, that kitchen computer you don’t want to touch with dough-encrusted hands becomes washable when the display is projected on a cutting board. Continue reading “Light bulb form-factor computer”

RGB display development

[SeBsZ] tipped us off that he’s working on a display using RGB LEDs. He’s etched some nice surface mount controller boards to carry the ATmega8 microcontroller and NXP PCA9635 drivers. This setup uses the I2C bus to address each expansion board of 5 LED modules. Theoretically this hardware would allow for 638 RGB modules but because of power and refresh rate issues he’s set his sights on reaching somewhere between 100-125, a total of about 25 expansion boards.

There’s not a ton to show off yet. But we expect big things from the project. Partly because one of his goals is to generate a display that can be rolled up and easily moved, and partly because his large-scale light bulb displays are so impressive. Take a look at the video of his 60-bulb unit after the break.

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