G-35 Christmas lights do make a great LED matrix

This fully-addressable RGB LED matrix was built by [John Graham-Cummings]. He didn’t start from scratch, but wisely repurposed a strand of GE Color Effect lights and built a pleasant looking case in which to mount the G-35 hardware.

We’ve seen this hardware used in a similar way before. Because each ‘bulb’ has its own microcontroller, color data is shifted in via a serial bus. Orient the modules in any pattern you choose and account for that layout in software.

Since the strings have 50 bulbs, [John] simply cut off the one on the end to form his 7×7 matrix with the remaining 49 units. A square of plywood with a grid of holes holds each in place. Cord mess is not a problem as the extra was cut out and the remainders were soldered together again. [John] uses an Arduino Pro to feed in the data, which you can see for yourself in the clip after the break.

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iPhone controlled Daft Punk helmet replica a dazzling build

This Daft Punk helmet replica is beautiful to look at, but the deeper we delve into the build process, the more we begin to think that the entire project is a piece of artwork. [Harrison Krix] has been working on it for months, and just posted his three-part build log in September. Check out the video and the links to all three parts after the break.

Now [Harrison] isn’t new to prop replica scene. He’s the guy responsible for the other fantastic Daft Punk helmet we saw last year. He’s tapped the same fabrication skills to churn out an equally impressive chromed helmet, complete with addressable flashing LEDs. He built his own mold to create the body of the helmet, reminding us of the Storm Trooper helmet replicas we saw in July. While this was off being coated in chrome, he got down to business with the electronics.

The visor of the helmet has a red LED marquee. This, along with the multicolored visor sides and ear pucks, is controlled by an Arduino yellow jacket. The lights can be controlled by an iPhone app that connects to the helmet via WiFi, letting a user push custom messages to the display, and alter the light patterns. The build shines on the inside as well as the outside with an incredibly clean LED matrix build, and clever control placement for switching each part on or off.

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The Partyscroller LED Display

As [Plasma2002] put it, “Those jumbo screens at concerts that display your text messages can be a lot of fun. Wouldn’t it be great if you could have the same thing for your own parties or social gatherings?” The answer to this question came in the form of this hack, a scrolling marquee sign that guests simply had to text to get it to display messages. Apparently guests at the party loved the device, and who wouldn’t?

More importantly for [HAD] though, is that [Plasma2002] decided to show everyone how it’s done. He gives us an overview of the process via a nicely illustrated block diagram, then breaks everything down into the actual code used. A Google voice account is used as the dial-in number and everything is kept anonymous. A “bad-word” filter is used to keep everything semi-appropriate.

Really a cool device, and one that we hope will show up at hacker’s parties everywhere. Who knows, maybe something like this could enjoy mainstream success as well. Check out the video after the break to see this device in action! [Read more...]

Camera flash marquee: Real of Fake?

 

It’s time for everyone’s favorite comment thread game: Real or Fake? This week’s edition comes in from a tip that [Fabian] sent us about the music video Bright Siren by the band Androp. The video starts by showing bundles of cables being sorted and connected to breadboards. We get a brief shot of a large LED matrix (presumably being used for testing purposes) then footage of a lot of DSLR cameras with external flashes. These are mounted on racks to produce the marquee seen in the image above. The band performs in front of it for the rest of the video.

We’ve embedded the original video, as well as a ‘making of’ video after the break. There’s also a website you can checkout that lets you write your own message on the marquee. That bit could be easily done in flash so there’s no que, you’ll notice there’s no live feed. While we think the theory is real, we’re a bit skeptical about whether this performance is real or video editing magic. In the behind the scenes clip you can see breadboards attached to each camera flash with rubber bands so we’d guess that at least some of the hardware was setup. But we’re wondering if the animated effects were done in editing like that tea light animation. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment.

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See-through LED display

[Ndsit] is having a party and wanted to liven up the place with some blinky lights. He’s a bit new when it comes to hobby electronics, and although we’d highly recommend inviting some resistors to participate, the LED matrix that he built is very nice. It’s 8×8, it’s big, and (as shown in the clip after the break) the lights seem to hover in midair. That’s because he didn’t use a substrate to make the display. A grid of enameled wire is strung between the four sides of the wooden frame. LEDs were gathered from a string of Christmas lights which means they’re in a holder and have insulated wires already connected. Each one was tied on at a junction point of the grid, then connected to a portion of the wire where enamel had been scraped off.

It works but there’s already one light that is out. We hope some current protection is added so that this can be used again and again.

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12 foot LED display keeps your office informed

Don’t reach for a sticky note when you need to leave a message for your office mates, write it down on a 12 foot LED marquee. [Kitesurfer1404] built this for his home office, but we’re sure he’ll find fun stuff to use it for. The display has 512 LEDs driven by plain old 595 shift registers for the high-side columns, with an ULN2803A Darlington Array to pull the eight rows to ground. The whole thing is controlled by an ATmega8 via a serial connection. Our compliments to the builder for accurately drilling a grid of 64×8 holes in each hardboard panel of the display. The buses for each row and column also look nice and clean. For the final look a 79% light transmittance frosted acrylic panel was added to diffuse the light.

We used the same method to build our LED pumpkin. Transistors ran the low side, and if we had needed more columns, shift registers are a popular go-to for I/O expansion. Check out that project to learn more about display multiplexing.

Scrolling marquee made from GE Christmas lights

[John Riney] picked up three strands of addressable Christmas lights and used them to make a scrolling marquee. You may remember that the G-35 lights were hacked at the beginning of December, and we saw a project or two that involved these fun toys.

In order to make the display [John] modified the original packing material to hold three strands in a six by eighteen grid for a total of 108 pixels. In the video after the break he points out one interesting feature of the strand that we don’t remember from looking at the original hack; each bulb’s address is not fixed, it can be set after power-up. This works the same way as sending color data, except that you just send the address. This makes controlling a grid like this extremely easy from a microcontroller programming standpoint. Once all of the addresses have dropped down the serial bus, you’re ready to start sending color and intensity data packets.

The setup is fast, bright, and beautiful, taking just three pins of an Arduino for control. The only thing holding us back from trying this ourselves is the $150 price tag. But that was before the holiday, and we have heard some whispers about closeout deals on this product.

[Read more...]

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