Light Controller Goes Overboard for Halloween

floodbrain-halloween-light-controller

Yep, we said it. This Halloween decoration goes way overboard… and we love it! Not only does [Shelby Merrick] put on an incredible sound and light show for the neighborhood, but he keeps us happy by posting all the details for the lighting controller he designed. He calls the creation FloodBrain as it’s switching a set of flood lights to achieve the effects seen above. But for the full experience you’ll want to watch the demo videos below as well.

He needed a way to switch twelve RGB flood lights which pull 10 Watts. His controller was designed to communicate with them via RS485, with an AVR Xmega8E5 controlling the system. We like it that he included some images of the manufacturing process, using a stencil for solder paste before placing components for reflow.

The floodlights themselves are also an interesting hack. To get what he wanted at the best price he picked up 10W white LED flood lights for about eight bucks a piece, then swapped out the LED itself for an RGB version (same wattage) using the same heat sink and case.

More often that not we see this type of system controlling Christmas lights. [Shelby] mentions that he did get help from Christmas light controller forum We also think he should have no problem repurposing the controller for that type of application.

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Another eerily similar high power LED driver hack

[Maximilian Güntner] dropped us a comment in last week’s globe writeup linking to his own project, which involves a similar high power LED driver mod. This looks like the exact same mod we came up with, and [Güntner] even used the mod to connect a bunch of high power LEDs to a PCA9685 LED driver [pdf]. It’s the same exact concept as Disco Planet!

It should come as no surprise that people have actually been modding high power led drivers in this way for some time. They are a few bucks per handful and take an enormous input voltage range. In [Güntner]‘s case he grabbed a bunch of these from Dealextreme.  Actually there are two others on the site, and all three contain comments (dating back a year) with helpful tips on various ways to modify the little PCB.

Our Ebay sourced boards are different though. The boards [Güntner] purchased employ the PowTech PT4115 [pdf] which uses fewer parts and has an easy to follow data sheet. Take, for instance, the pin graciously labeled “DIM” with a little PWM signal next to it. The nerve! The Ebay drivers use the MCP34063 [pdf] which has a much more cryptic data sheet (burned two weeks and several notebook pages to figure out the circuit). Ultimately the two are so similar it makes no difference.

So, if you want to mod some LED drivers on your own, check out the how-to video after the jump. Thanks [mguentner]!

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Disco Planet, a massive RGBW LED array in a 6′ globe

About half a year ago [John] over at Frank’s Kitchens came to me with an idea for a giant lighting project. He had this 6ft diameter aluminum frame globe rescued from the Philadelphia Theater Company and wanted it to be an interactive display of sorts. After a few discussions we got together and somehow managed to order 800 3 watt LEDs in red, green, blue, and white. We had a system that worked great on paper, and managed to get it built by Valentines day for a big show. It failed miserably and hardly even illuminated the LEDs. I, naturally, took this far too personally and set out for a complete redesign, looking in the direction of digitally addressable LED strips.

In addition to building a crazy turbo charged LED array I also spent a lot (a whole lot) of time coding a nice clean fully functioning RGB LED strip controller using an Arduino Pro Mini (5V 16 MHz), the MSGEQ7 audio frequency multiplexer (PDF) , and an IR remote. I plan on using this for other projects so the code can be easily reconfigured to use many different LED strips and a whole slew of IR remotes.

The schematic of the globe is here. The top half  of that schematic be catered to other projects using a variety of pre-built LED strips. The pastebin with code is here,  fastSPI_LED and IRRemote here and here. Some code jockeying was required to get IRRemote.h and FastSPI_LED to play nicely together, so check the code comments.

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A remote controlled RGB light bulb lamp

RGB just got a lot brighter by using 3x60Watt flood lights instead of an LED. The bulbs are driven via TRIACs and the whole thing uses a remote control to change the levels of the three bulbs. It is also able to store these levels for later recall. The IR receiver was taken from a dead TV set along with its remote control, or a universal remote set to a Phillips TV can be used. The source code and schematic for this project are available.

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