Fail of the Week: Physical Pixel Display

fotw-physical-pixel-display

This physical pixel display reminds us of a couple of different hacks that we’ve seen over the years. It looks impressive, but [Matt] couldn’t quite get it to work. It wasn’t the Kinect sensor and image interpretation that was the problem. It was a failure to get the hardware components seen above to perform reliably.

If you can’t figure out what this is supposed to do, take at look at the inFORM morphing table or the pixel wall installed at the Hyundai expo last year. [Matt's] attempt is much more modest with a grid of just 10×6. The pixels themselves are ballpoint pens (he gets bonus points for cheap and easy materials). The pens move in and out thanks to some Bowden cables connected to hobby servos. The mechanical engineers have probably already figured out the fail… the pixels seem to get hung up and despite several revisions in the materials used , it couldn’t be fixed.

The hobby servos were chosen because they are much less expensive than proper linear actuators. We thought maybe [Matt] should build his own solenoids but that’s not a great idea because you can’t have variable depth that way (can you?).  Perhaps the pens should be vertical and the servos could pull on a string attached to the pen via a pulley with gravity to return them to the starting position? There’s got to be an inexpensive and relatively simple way get this thing working. Let us know how you’d get the project back on track by leaving a comment below.


2013-09-05-Hackaday-Fail-tips-tileFail of the Week is a Hackaday column which runs every Wednesday. Help keep the fun rolling by writing about your past failures and sending us a link to the story — or sending in links to fail write ups you find in your Internet travels.

Ambilight clone has meaningful amount of resolution

james-bond-ambilight-clone

We don’t have an Ambilight clone on our own home theater, but seeing this one in action makes us wonder if we shouldn’t add it to the ever-growing list of projects we need to tackle (right below that POV display we’ve been putting off for years). [Falldeaf] built the colored light augmentation system using a set of WS2801 controlled LED pixels. There are a lot of them, and this results in the ‘meaningful resolution’ we mentioned in the title. The image on the screen is the opening to a James Bond film. You’ll remember that the camera shot down a rifle barrel follows him as he walks across the screen. There’s enough LEDs here to have to the light follow him across the screen as well. This is a nice touch that we don’t see in every Ambilight clone project.

A frame of fake-wood angle bracket holds each LED pixel in place. The entire assembly attaches to the VESA mounting holes on the back of the television. An Arduino addresses the lights while the Boblight package processes the video to acquire the lighting instructions. We think the hue is a bit off, but otherwise it’s a solid offering.

We’re still hoping the Microsoft IllumiRoom becomes a thing.

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A clock that uses sixty RGB pixels

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Here’s a project inspired by a highly polished art piece. [Tobias] has been working on his own RGB LED clock which uses one light for each minute in an hour. He was inspired to start the project after seeing the Equinox clock. That one used a little PCB for each LED, and included an acrylic bezel and diffusers for each light. With the advent of LED pixel strings assembling one of these for yourself has become quite a bit easier.

The key part of the project is the laser-cut plywood frame which has a finger between each digit in order to perfectly space the lights. Each pixel is hot glued in place, with the Arduino board which drives them at the center of the frame. These lights are super bright, so [Tobias] also included a light dependent resistor which allows the system to measure ambient light and modulate the pixel brightness accordingly.

There are four parts to his project post so make sure you take some time to click around in order to get all the gritty details.

Three conceptual approaches to driving a WS2811 LED pixel

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[Cunning_Fellow] published a post with three proof-of-concept approaches to driving a WS2811 LED pixel. We looked at a project early in December that used an AVR microcontroller to drive the RGB package. [Cunning_Fellow] saw this, and even though he doesn’t have any of these parts on hand he still spent the time hammering out ways to overcome the timing issues involved with address the device. His motto is “put up or shut up” when it comes to criticizing projects featured on Hackaday. We love seeing someone pick up an idea and run with it.

The approach in all three cases aims to conserve clock cycles when timing the communications. This leaves the developer as many cycles as possible to perform other tasks than simply telling the lights what to do. One approach is an assembly routine that is just a shade slower but groups all 14 free cycles into one block. The next looks at using external 7400 series hardware. The final technique is good old-fashioned bit banging.

[Photo Credit]

Thousands of physical pixels turn these walls into a huge display

The scale of this project is daunting. Each of the three white walls seen in the image above is made up of thousands of oblong square blocks. The blocks move independently and turn the room into an undulating 3D display.

If it had only been the demonstration video we might have run this as a “Real or Fake” post, but we’re certain this is real. Each pixel is made of what looks like a foam block mounted on a stepper-motor-driven linear actuator. So basically this must have set the world record for the CNC machine with the most axes. The motors make for very accurate and smooth motion, and the control software lets them draw shapes, words, animated objects, and the like. But the one side effects that we absolutely adore is the sound all of these motors make when running. After the break you can see a demo video and a ‘making of’ clip.

The installation is the work of the Jonpasang art collective and is installed as a Hyundai exhibit at an expo in Korea.

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Turning pixels into LEGO pieces

Looking to spice up his living room with some modular plastic pieces, [Quentin] came up with a way to take digital pixels and convert them to LEGO building plans. The end result is a coffee table top that uses a font complete with anti-aliasing.

The first thing he did was figure out physical dimension and color palettes available from the popular building blocks. His search yielded all of the answers after he spent some time on Brickipedia. Armed with that knowledge he started bargain hunting, settling on a brick size that yielded adequate resolution without breaking the bank (he budgeted 87 Euros or about $125 for materials). From there he used Photoshop, along with a custom color palate that matches the LEGO colors, to generate the design. Image in hand, he finished the planning stage by writing a program to count the pixels, convert them into LEGO bricks, and spit out an order list and build instructions. He’s saving others the trouble of doing the same by releasing his source code.

Of course the project wouldn’t be nearly as fun if he hadn’t made a fast-time build video. We’ve embedded it after the break.

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MeggyCade: when handheld pixel gaming isn’t enough

[Bomber Punk] built his own arcade cabinet, but you won’t find any MAME games here. He made the enclosure to house a Meggy Jr. 8×8 pixel graphics game console. Proper coin-op buttons and a joystick replace the stock tactile switches that come with the kit. [Bomber Punk] has also added a lighted coin slot. A three-cell battery pack powers the beast, with a programming port to one side so that different games can be loaded from a PC. We’d like to see a processor upgrade that would allow multiple games to be stored on a stand-alone system.

Take a look at the video after the break, it’ll bring a smile to your face.

[Read more...]

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