Automated Light Painting Makes It Easy

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What can we say — we’re a sucker for projects that feature our favorite logo. This is the Parallax Propeller Automated Light Painting Machine  — and no, it’s not a persistence of vision setup.

[Daniel], [Nathan], and the folks over at Embedded Aesthetics are big fans of Hack a Day and are very excited to share their new project. It’s a fully automated light painting setup that features an X-axis slide, a strip of RGB LEDs, a Parallax Propeller (microcontroller), and a DSLR — all you have to do is choose an image, and press start.

They first started light painting with their LED Paint Brush, an equally awesome, but slightly less automated tool. They’ve created this one to be a bit more interactive — in fact, you can actually go on their website, upload an image, and it will paint you a picture! But… it’s not available right now.

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Finally, An Animated GIF Light Painter

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Light painting, or taking a picture of a moving RGB LED strip with a very long exposure, is the application du jour of Arduinos, photography, and bright, glowey, colorful things. Hackaday alumnus [Phil Burgess] has come up with the best tutorial for light painting we’ve seen. It’s such a good setup, it can be used to create animated .gifs using multiple camera exposures.

The build uses an Arduino Uno, SD card shield, and Adafruit’s new NeoPixel strip with 144 RGB LEDs per meter. Despite a potentially huge mess of wires for this project, [Phil] kept everything very, very neat. He’s using an Altoids case for the ‘duino, an 8 AA-cell battery holder and 3A UBEC  for the power, and a wooden frame made out of pine trim.

Part of the art of light painting involves a lot of luck, exponentially so if you’re trying to make a light painted animated .gif. To solve this problem, [Phil] came up with a very clever solution: using a rotary encoder attached to a bicycle. With the rotary encoder pressed up against the wheel of a bike, [Phil] can get a very precise measurement of where the light strip is along one dimension, to ensure the right pixels are lit up at the right time and in the right place.

It’s a wonderful build, and if Santa brings you some gift certificates to your favorite electronics retailer, we couldn’t think of a better way to bring animated .gifs into the real world.

If You Own a Camera You Need to Try Light Graffiti

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Light graffiti orbs over a lake as seen here.

Do you have a camera that’s capable of controlling how long of an exposure it takes?  With this and any small light source, you can make a really awesome illuminated image like the one featured above.  Combine this with the hacking skills that you’ve hopefully learned from reading Hackaday, and the visual possibilities are endless.

Let’s look at the background of this entertaining light hacking technique, and how you can make images like this yourself!

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Four Meter Light Paintings

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We’ve seen some light painting before – waving a microcontroller and LED strip in front of a camera is a very interesting project after all. [Saulius]‘ light painting stick is unlike anything we’ve seen before, though. It’s huge – four meters high, and is also very flexible in the field, drawing images served up from a smart phone.

To get his pictures onto his light painting stick, [Saulius] used the very cool Carambola, an exceedingly small board that also runs Python. The images were converted to a 128xWhatever .BMP file served to the Carambola over WiFi with a smart phone, Since the Carambola runs Linux, sometimes a kernel interrupt would mistakenly restart the drawing process. [Saulius] found a way around that by writing the drawing code in C and wrapping that in a Python module. The speed of C and the flexibility of Python, who could ask for more.

On the project page, you can see [Saulius] pulling off some very cool light paintings. Even though the Hackaday logo is the best way to get on the front page here, this pic is probably the most impressive

Super-precise light painting from a delta robot

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The points of those geometric shapes line up perfectly thanks to the delta robot arm controlling the light source. The source is a simple LED that can be switched on and off as it moves. A camera is set up in a dark room to keep the shutter open while the arm moves. We’re assuming that all of the light for the stationary objects in this image comes from the LED as well.

[Sick Sad] built the delta bot for just for this purpose. Check out the video below to see, and perhaps more importantly hear, the thing in motion. Seriously, the whine of the stepper motors is pretty awesome on this one.

The delta concept uses a central head on three arms angled down from above. If the LED is also pointed down it won’t light up the hardware and that’s why it doesn’t show up in the image. We’ve seen similar accuracy when using this style of machine for 3D printing. But if you don’t want to build a complicated machine you can try this out with a simple string plotter.

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Hackaday Links: Sunday, June 9th, 2013

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This week we saw an interesting animated motorcycle tail light over on Reddit. But there wasn’t really enough background to get its own feature.

The NeuroKnitting project captures brainwaves by weaving them into a scarf.

On Semiconductor is showing off an 8x8x8 LED cube which they claim as 12,000 LEDs. We can’t figure out where all those LEDs are used in the design, but maybe you can. Here’s one that we know has 4096 LEDs in its matrix.

[Jeff] used hard drive platters as the disc section of his original Enterprise desk model.

Play around with an SNES controller and Arduino by following [Damon's] guide.

Hackaday Alum [Jeremy Cook] posted an update of his laser graffiti project. His earlier effort used camera tricks to capture the image but this time around he’s exciting phosphorescent glow material to make a persistent display visible to the human eye.

This server hides in plain sight after being wrapped in a hard cover book binding. Hopefully this won’t cause heat dissipation problems.

[Trumpkin] built his own Nixie tube wristwatch which we think has the potential to be as neat as the one [Woz] wears.

 

Light Graffiti with Servos and Python

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Light Graffiti is can be lots of fun if you have a decent amount of artistic ability, and a keen sense of timing. If you don’t have the necessary skills, you can always compensate by using Python-controlled servos to move everything automatically. The Python code can be found here, and makes use of the Python Image Library to process the images into a “drawable” form. A [pyMCU] with firmware capable of simultaneous servo control was used to move the laser fixture around.

One of the more difficult aspects of this experiment was getting the timing correct between each laser pulse. The timing routine involes a bit of geometry, calculating the distance between each using trig. As explained in the article, this may be a bit of overkill.  It still didn’t compare to the trig involved in a previous experiment drawing a circle with this laser-servo fixture.  Be sure to check out the video of this laser-setup in action after the break.  I’ve been quite pleased with the results, and look forward to what can be done with it in the future!

Thanks to [pyMCU] for letting me have a few of these boards to play with!

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