[dev_dsp] wanted to try his hand at creating a purely analog implementation of multiple synchronizing fireflies powered by a single battery and built from off-the shelf, through-hole components on inexpensive protoboard. In theory, even your local Radio Shack should still carry all of this stuff. He was obviously inspired by [alex]’s fireflies that we’ve covered in the past, but he wanted to see how far it could be taken without the use of a microprocessor.
In the end, [dev_dsp] relied on one crucial piece of digital ware, the ever-popular 555 timer IC, but he’s using analog discrete components to do the grunt work of adjusting the phase of each firefly by feeding a little extra current to the trigger capacitor whenever the flash of a nearby firefly is detected. After the jump, you’ll find schematics and a video demo of three ASync-Firefly modules in various stages of assembly playing with one another while [dev_dsp] discusses their operation.
[Alex] of tinkerlog created a set of 64 RGB fireflies that synchronize to blink all at once. We covered the kit earlier, but he has assembled a set of 64. Each firefly is independently controlled by an ATtiny13 that reads a phototransistor and lights up an RGB LED. The fireflies are programmed to blink a certain rate, but blink faster if they detect other blinks. After a few cycles, the fireflies begin to blink in unison. When the fireflies are arranged in different configurations, different patterns emerge. He is selling kits and has instructions for building your own. Videos of the fireflies after the jump.
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As many of you have mentioned, there are a lot of projects that are built with their own microprocessors, and are simply overkill. Here’s a reminder that we can do some pretty fun stuff light synchronized light shows without going overboard. This light show is controlled directly via the printer port on a computer. Sure you can’t un plug it and run it free standing, but you can build it for roughly $20.