Four Meter Light Paintings

HaD

We’ve seen some light painting before – waving a microcontroller and LED strip in front of a camera is a very interesting project after all. [Saulius]‘ light painting stick is unlike anything we’ve seen before, though. It’s huge – four meters high, and is also very flexible in the field, drawing images served up from a smart phone.

To get his pictures onto his light painting stick, [Saulius] used the very cool Carambola, an exceedingly small board that also runs Python. The images were converted to a 128xWhatever .BMP file served to the Carambola over WiFi with a smart phone, Since the Carambola runs Linux, sometimes a kernel interrupt would mistakenly restart the drawing process. [Saulius] found a way around that by writing the drawing code in C and wrapping that in a Python module. The speed of C and the flexibility of Python, who could ask for more.

On the project page, you can see [Saulius] pulling off some very cool light paintings. Even though the Hackaday logo is the best way to get on the front page here, this pic is probably the most impressive

An improved bubble display with RGB LEDs

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Making a bubble display is quite an undertaking, but [Jay] takes advantage of iterative design to construct this impressive (and at 60 tubes, massive) bubble display. The display functions by dispensing bubbles to serve as illuminated pixels in each tube as they rise through the fluid. His build log steps through the display’s construction with a keen attention to detail and above all, patience.

Rather than diving right in and slapping some tubes together, [Jay] took the time to research other bubble display projects, including one we featured a few years back that grew out of yet another HackaDay article. His prototypes started off small to test potential features: whether to use water or glycerin, timing for the air pumps and bubble size, and several others. [Jay] even filled the log with videos of every test, so you can watch the problems and solutions unfold at each step.

The finished display boasts sixty 30″ tall tubes, making it 64″ wide. [Jay] also installed RGB LEDs at every edge where the tubes meet to better distribute the light. You can watch one of the many videos of the display at work below.

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RGB Infinity Mirror

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If you’ve been waiting for a more detailed guide before you set off to work on your own Infinity Mirror, [Ben]‘s write-up is perhaps the most approachable one you will find. This build uses a set of four potentiometers to control an analog RGB LED strip (these lights are not individually addressable: but that makes coding simpler). [Ben] powers everything from a 12V 5A DC adapter, which is more than enough to run the 12V RGB strip along with the Arduino.

The mirror has two different ‘modes:’ individual channel color control and color-fade. In the first mode, three pots drive the RGB channels respectively. The color-fade mode has a mind of its own, sliding between all possible colors; you can spin the fourth potentiometer to control the speed of the transition.

The video below better illustrates the different modes. We definitely recommend [Ben's] excellent guide as an ideal first project for anyone who has yet to take the plunge beyond simple microcontroller exercises. Check out Freeside Atlanta’s Infinity Mirror prototype for more inspiration.

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Reaction time challenge

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We’re not sure where [Bill Porter] finds all of his free time, but we’re glad he’s put it to such good use by building an exhibit piece for the local science museum: Reaction Time Challenge. It’s likely that we were all inspired to love science as kids in a museum like this, and [Bill's] contribution is already fascinating its young audience. The challenge lets two participants test how fast they can smack a big red button after a randomly-generated countdown. The time taken for the players to react is translated into the RGB LED strips, measuring how fast they managed to hit the button.

Builds like this one need to clearly communicate how they should be used; you don’t want confused children bamming around on your cabinet. First, [Bill] guts the dim LEDs inside the big plastic buttons and replaces them with some brighter ones. To keep the connections clean, he takes the cannibalized ends of an Ethernet cable and hooks the speaker and buttons to an Ethernet jack. The jack sits snugly in a project box where it connects to an Arduino. Two RGB LED strips run from the opposite end of the box, daisy-chaining from the bottom of the cabinet to the top, then back down again. See it all come together in the video after the break.

[Bill's] museum must be pretty lucky; he resurrected the “Freeze Frame” exhibit for them just over a year ago and has done a bunch of other projects for them over the years.

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Android controlled Minecraft ores

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[Ryan] has a friend with a birthday coming up, and being inspired by ever 12-year-olds favorite game, he decided to make a Minecraft ore block with RGB LEDs. The block can change from diamonds to emeralds via commands send from an Android phone.

After a few false starts, [Ryan] eventually had his ore cube laser cut at Acess Space, a hackerspace-ish group in Sheffield. The box was constructed out of 3mm MDF, while the windows were laser cut out of frosted acrylic, while the stone pattern on the cube is one giant custom-made sticker.

With the tedious part of the build out of the way, [Ryan] set to work on the electronics. He used a PIC attached to a few very large RGB LEDs, and a Bluetooth module that allows him to connect his phone to an ore block. Dialing in the right colors took some work, but eventually, [Ryan] had an Android-controlled Minecraft ore block, able to transmutate between gold, iron, diamond, emerald, lapis, and redstone.

You can check out a video of [Ryan]‘s ore block in action after the break.

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Lighting up a workspace twofer

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Sometimes a pair of extremely similar builds hit the Hackaday tip line within hours of each other. We’re not one to play favorites, so here’s two projects that put RGB LED strips in a desk and workbench.

[Charles] over at The Makers Workbench has long needed a lighting solution for his workspace. Flourescent lights are alright, but for real geek cred nothing but LED strips will do. He picked up an RGB strip on Amazon for $20 and now has a lighting solution that’s able to change colors above his workstation. Check out the video of his RGB workbench rave.

A computer desk is a workbench too, right? [Will] had the idea of letting people on the Internet control the lighting color of his desk. He’s asking people to head over to this site and asking people to schedule the color of his desk for an entire day. A Raspi pulls each day’s color off the server. With a few transistors, an RGB strip, a custom shield, and faking three PWM channels, [Will] has a new color at his desk every day.