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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Huge flexible LED matrix can be worn almost anywhere

lightbright_led_mesh

[Erik] has been keeping extremely busy with his latest project, a flexible RGB LED matrix that he calls “Project Light Bright”. The folks at BuildLounge tell us that this is the first entry they have received so far in their “Light Contest”, in which they are giving away a free laser cutter to the best entry.

[Erik] hand soldered ten 16×16 RGB LED panels together in order to build this display, and the results are awesome. The entire thing is controlled by a WiFi-enabled Beagleboard, which drives all of the panels and then some. The Beagleboard features embedded web and DNS servers, which allows it to act as a wireless AP, enabling him to control the display using any WiFi capable device. The Light Bright displays all sorts of predefined artwork, but [Erik] can also alter the display on the fly via his phone as well. The entire thing is powered by a reasonably sized LiPo battery pack that he keeps tucked away in his pocket, which allows the display to run continuously for about 20 hours.

Check out the video below to see a quick walkthrough of [Erik’s] Light Bright suit, then be sure to stop by his site for more videos, details and updates on the project.

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Super Pixel Bros now with manufactured PCB and rewritten software

[Retro Brad] has come a long way with his 8×8 gaming device which he calls Super Pixel Bros. The newest rendition has a fab house PCB and freshly rewritten code. The game is still played on an 8×8 LED matrix, but it looks like he’s sourced a version with square pixels, which is a nice touch since he was inspired by the block-based Super Mario games. Also new in this version is the character LCD screen which displays score, level, and life information. But it’s not just the shiny new hardware that’s different, he’s rewritten the software in Swordfish Basic to run on the PIC 18F4550. The new code allowed him to tweak how levels are loaded and stored. He’s even written a level editor and has finished 20 levels thus far.

The demo after the break does a great job of showing off the hardware and the game play. He’s added a lot, including enemies, the ability to shoot fire, and of course the common moves of jumping and breaking blocks is all there. He mentioned that the fab house he used is selling boards for around $5 and he’s looking into the possibility of getting a kit service up and running.

His progress since we last checked in on the project is quite impressive.

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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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Repaired microwave keypad looks as good as new

microwave_keypad_repair

Instructables user [Rohit] had an out-of-warranty microwave with a broken membrane keypad. Much like our friend [Alexandre] from Brazil, he found the cost of replacement parts beyond reasonable, so he had to find a way to repair it instead.

He disassembled the front cover of his microwave to get at the main controller board. Once it was detached, he removed the keypad’s cover to get a closer look at the matrix underneath. While taking notes on how the matrix was wired, he found that some keypad traces connected to other traces rather than buttons. He says that they are likely used by the microwave to detect that the keypad is present, so he made sure to short those traces out on the controller board when he wired everything back together.

He replaced the aging keypad with microswitches, but rather than mount them on the front panel of the microwave, he drilled holes for each switch so that he could mount them inside the face plate. Once everything was wired and glued in place, he re-mounted the keypad’s cover. Now the microwave looks stock but has firm, reliable, user-serviceable buttons that are sure to last quite a while.

Repairing a broken microwave keypad

microwave_keypad_fix

[Alexandre Souza] needed a microwave pretty badly, but he didn’t have a lot of cash on hand. He located one for a great price, but once he got home he found that things weren’t working quite like they should be (Google translation).

After some investigation, he narrowed the problem down to a bad keypad membrane. Unfortunately for him, this model of microwave was never sold in Brazil (who knows how it got there) and the only membrane he could track down had to be shipped in from the US at a cost of $80.

Rather than pay such a high price for a simple membrane, he opted to fix the microwave himself. He dismantled the control panel and thoroughly traced the keypad matrix to get an understanding of which pins toggled which functions. With a piece of protoboard and almost two dozen push buttons in hand, he built his own keypad and wired it directly into the microwave’s control board.

With labels written in marker it might not be the nicest looking thing you have ever seen, but it works a treat and is a great money-saving hack.

Displaying video and gifs on RGB LED matrices

led_matrix

[Mathieu] was on holiday in China and picked up some fun toys while perusing the numerous electronics markets there. The most interesting things he discovered were a pair of RGB LED matrices. They came in two different flavors, one made for indoor and one for outdoor displays, sporting a 64×32 and 32×16 resolution, respectively.

If you’ve read his blog before you know he is a big fan of LED matrices, so it’s only natural that bought a whole bunch of them and started experimenting once he got home. Using the same Atmel FPSLIC LED matrix control board he showed off in this previous hack, he was able to get the LED matrices up and running in no time. He adapted his webcam project to utilize the new panels, and he added a whole new feature as well. Via MatLab, he can now display any sort of animated gif on the panels, as you can see in the video below. The panels look great, and if we had a few of these around, there’s no doubt we would probably play this video on infinite repeat.

He says that the despite their somewhat questionable origins, the panels are of top notch quality, and he is willing to organize some sort of group buy if others are interested.

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