LED matrix pendants

If you want to mess around with some microcontrollers but don’t really have a purpose in mind this project is perfect for you. It’s cheap, easy to assemble, and there’s blinking LEDs! [TigerUp] shows us how he  put together some LED matrix pendants using just five components.

He calls the project Tiny Matrix, which is fitting as the pendant outline is barely 0.5″ by 0.7″. On the back an ATtiny2313 chip has been soldered directly to the legs of the LED display. They just happen to line up with I/O pins on the chip which makes for super simple soldering. Power comes from a coin-cell which is connected to the pendant by a red and black wire which make up the necklace for the device. The last two components not yet mentioned are a momentary push switch for changing modes, and a pull-up resistor on the reset pin. The bill of materials rings in at $4 and his firmware offers up nine different modes as you can see in the clip after the break.

[TigerUp] was inspired by this 8×8 matrix project.

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Adding Bluetooth audio playback to a Toyota Matrix

In this project [Ryan] shows how he added Bluetooth audio to the stock stereo of his Toyota Matrix. The work he did with his add-on hardware is quite good. And the installation was surprisingly easy. For example, the dashboard bezel which is hanging in the foreground of this picture simply pulls off without the need for any tools. Also, the CD changer input for the stereo is what he uses to patch into the system. It just happened to have a 0.1″ pin header so finding a connector that would work wasn’t a problem.

As for the add-on hardware, he built his own circuit board around an ATmega168 microcontroller and Bluegiga WT32 Bluetooth module. To connect to the car’s data system he went with an RS485 driver chip. It’s not quite the right part but it works well enough for his purposes. So far he can get audio playback working and plans to add support for hands free phone calls and displaying audio track information. Hey, maybe he’ll even add some extra shake-based automation; who knows?

Get a look at the install in the clip after the break.

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Bring your LED matrix project into the living room

If you’re able to make a project look this good it shouldn’t be hard to convince that significant other to let you install it in a prominent place in the house. We think [Greg Friedland] pulled this off perfectly by building a 4’x8′ tablet controlled LED matrix.

First of all, everything looks better in a shiny case. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this looks nice, thanks to the face plates which are mounted in a way that gives them a modern style (we’d expect to see this hanging in Ikea). They’re acrylic diffuser panels meant for used with lighting in a suspended ceiling. They do a nice job of scattering the light put off by the 544 LED modules that make up the display. The wiring was made easy by using LED strands where each pixel has its own control chip (WS2801). It sounds like the display will peak at around 160 Watts, which isn’t really that much considering the area. One nice touch that’s shown off in the video after the break is a full-feature iPad interface that even allows you to paint in light using your finger. But we’re also satisfied that [Greg] posted about the physical build too.

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Power Index Window Display turns buildings into LED matrices

What started off as a fun project using light bulbs picked up some sponsorship and is going on tour. This project now uses LED modules controlled on the 2.4 GHz band to turn buildings into full color displays. It’s the product of students at Wrocław University of Technology in Poland. The group is something of an extra-curricular club that has been doing this sort of thing for years. But now they’ve picked up some key sponsorships which not only allowed for upgraded hardware, but sent the group on a tour of Universities around Europe. Who would’ve thought you could go on tour with something like this?

Much like the MIT project we looked at in April, this lights up the dark rooms of a grid-like building. It does go well beyond playing Tetris though. The installation sets animations to music, with a custom animation editor so that you can submit your own wares for the next show. Don’t miss the lengthy performance after the break.

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Harnessing the electrical power of clams

Yes, that is a clam. Yes researchers are using them as batteries. Yes, that quip about the matrix  and clam-Neo that is bubbling up into your temporal lobe is appropriate. While keeping a clam as “happy as a clam” might not necessitate a virtual world, they don’t really produce much electricity either. Researchers were able to siphon almost 29 millijoules over the course of an hour. This was enough to turn their electric motor one quarter of a turn.

Wether you find this kind of biological hacking ethical or not, you’ll probably agree that the following quote is, at least a tiny bit, creepy.

The researchers tried different ways to connect three clams at a time as a collective living battery. A serial circuit boosted the battery’s voltage (electric potential), whereas a parallel circuit increased the current (rate of charge flow) — but the overall electricity available often changed depending on each clam’s health.

This LED table really ties the room together

led-matrix-table

Along with quadrotors, and portable game consoles, one of the hacks we never get tired of seeing is an LED matrix table. [Christian Enchelmaier] wrote in to share his take on the ever popular pixelated furniture, which we think came out pretty well (Translation).

Instead of going for a full-sized coffee table, [Christian] decided to keep things on the smaller scale his first time out, opting for an ottoman/end table nstead. He constructed a 16×16 matrix using RGB LEDs, encapsulating each one in its own “pixel”, as is common with these builds. [Christian] uses an Atmega 128 to run the show, displaying the current time and date, temperature, music visualizations, games, images, along with short videos. He also outfitted the table with an IR receiver so that he can control the table’s display from afar.

As of right now, [Christian] doesn’t have any video of the table in action, but there’s plenty in the way of pictures scattered throughout his build log to keep you busy in the meantime.

Matrix backpack was a fun design project

[Greg] is really working on a small scale with his LED Matrix backpack PCB. It’s a toy that he designed as an activity. He constrained himself to a board which would exactly match the outline of an 8×8 bicolor LED matrix package.

What you see here is the side of the PCB which will be facing the underside of the LED dot matrix module. Let’s call this the top of the board. The underside has a CR2032 battery holder which provides enough juice to run the display. Since the matrix is bi-color there’s a slew of pins to drive. [Greg] uses three shift registers for the high side, and sixteen N-channel MOSFETS for the low side. He’s chosen an MSP430G2201 microcontroller which has a nice sleep mode for power conservation. It has no problem driving tri-color animations as seen the clip after the break, but also has an unpopulated clock crystal footprint if you wanted to use it as a timepiece.

Despite the small footprints and cramped board [Greg] still hand soldered all of the components. He even posted a time-lapse of the process in the page linked at the top.

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