CNC Light Painting

Light painting is a technique where a shape is drawn with a light source while a camera is taking a very long exposure shot of it. To do this well by hand would take a lot of skill, so I naturally decided to make my “light art” with a CNC router.

Using this technique, the LED light is treated just like an engraving bit would be under normal circumstances. The difference is that the Y axis is swapped with the Z axis allowing for easy movement in the plane that you see displayed in the picture above. This allows the old Y axis to switch the light on and off in the same way that an engraving bit is lifted to stop engraving and lowered to start (explained here). Instead of a bit though, it’s a switch.

Be sure to check out the video of the router in action (with the lights on) after the break: [Read more...]

Paint your pictures, no PC needed

LEDs and and cameras always make a fun mixture, and its not all that hard to have quite a bit of fun as well. The Light Painting Stick is similar to other long exposure camera tricks like LightScythe and gets about the same reults. The difference is the Light Painting Stick is self contained meaning you don’t have to drag nearly as much stuff along with you to have fun.

Hardware used is HL1606 controlled RGB led strip commonly found at Adafruit, the brains are a Leaf Labs Maple micro controller board with an SD card and some human interfaces attached, and is powered by a 6 volt lantern battery.

Images are 64*infinity 24 bit BMP files which means there is not much fuss preparing your graphics other than doing a simple rotate. You can select which image is displayed by using a 2 way switch and the LEDs on the stick. Select your images, dial in your speed with the potentiometer, and you’re  ready to hit the fire button for some photo fun.

Rainbow Machine livens up any photograph

rainbow-machine

[Shameel Arafin, Sean McIntyre, and Reid Bingham] really dig rainbows. Going by the moniker the “RainBroz”, the trio built a portable display that can be used to add cool light painting effects to pictures.

The group brings their Rainbow Machine all over the place, including parties, gatherings, and random spots on the street. Anyone is welcome to have their picture taken with the Rainbow machine, and each subject is given a card with a URL on it, so that they can check out their picture whenever they please.

The display consists of addressable RGB LED strips and an Arduino from Adafruit, along with the associated support mechanisms for moving the LEDs. The real magic is carried out by the LPD8806 light painting library, also from Adafruit, which enables the RainBroz to create all sorts of images with little fuss.

As you can see in the video below, the Rainbow Machine seems to get a pretty warm reception from just about everyone, even people grabbed right off the street. It looks simple enough to build, so why not put one together for your next gathering?

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Light painting Nyan Cat with an Arduino

You too can paint your favorite meme in light with just a few tools. [Skywodd] brought together a couple of different projects to make this happen. He had already built a large POV display and now uses a DSLR with long exposure to create light paintings (translated).

The Arduino-powered display is built from a strip of 35 RGB LEDs. Now, that’s four pins per LED but one of is ground, leaving just 105 pins that need to be addressable. A couple of things make this manageable. First, he etched his own circuit boards for the LED strips. This breaks out the contacts to the edge of the boards and simplifies the soldering a bit by taking care of the ground bus. Secondly, he’s using M5450 LED display drivers for addressing. After the break you can see the video of the prototype hardware (in French but blinky action starts at about 2:30).

If you’re looking for an easier way to do this, check out the light painting that uses manufactured LED strips.

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LED wand for light painting photography

[Michael Ross] is a photographer who has been getting into light painting recently. He’s come up with his own RGB light wand to create some amazing images, and also written a very, very thorough tutorial (PDF warning) on how to build your own light wand.

The light wand is based on an Arduino Mega board and uses an RGB LED strip based on the HL1606 controller chip. We’ve covered these LED strips before, and they’re very easy to use with the requisite library. So far, [Michael] has built a 48-LED light wand and a 16-LED wand with a 6-position program selector, making it easy to do awesome single-exposure photos like this.

[Michael] creates his images in an Excel spreadsheet – rows are which LED to address and columns are units of time. The picture data is then copied and pasted straight from the Excel worksheet to the Arduino source code. This in itself is a pretty clever use of Excel.

Check out the how [Michael] creates one of his light paintings here.

Light painting – still shots and animations

[Kim Pimmel's] been doing some really interesting light painting with an Arduino. In the past we’ve seen several light painting projects which use long exposures to capture moving LEDs, or moving LCD displays. But [Kim's] stepping it up a notch, using cold cathode flourescent lamps, electroluminescent (EL) wire, and lasers. The vibrant colors put out by these sources make for some great photos, but that’s not all she’s got up her sleeve. After accumulating a ton of still photographs from various shoots she decided to edit them together into stopped motion videos.

After the break you can see that one method she used to make these images was to spin the light sources on a standard audio turntable. An Arduino is controlled through processing via Bluetooth in order to move the stepper motor-mounted lights while the record player spins. Add some futuristic music thanks to Daft Punk (which is exactly what she did) and you’re in business.

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How to find WiFi: carry a big stick and use long exposures

Here’s an artsy way to map out WiFi networks around you; use a big light pole and long exposures to graph them on top of photographs. This capture method is often called light painting, and uses the relative brightness of LEDs to stretch out a still image – moving the stick quickly while the shutter is open.

The four-meter tall rod used in this project plays host to 80 white LEDs. An Arduino along with a WiFi shield detect the relative signal strength of the network surrounding the device. The images that are produced with this method are quite pleasing and you’ll enjoy watching the video after the break. We just wish that there was some kind of Google Street View interface to share this data since someone had to go out pounding the pavement with the rather peculiar looking apparatus in order to gather the data in the first place.

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