Radio-controlled LED Light Show


[Alan] was commissioned to make some wearable, radio-controlled LED strips for the Travelling Light Circus. It has taken some time, but he has recently finished some prototypes, and thought it was a good time to do a writeup on the project. The system is managed by a single controller unit, which communicates with any number of LED driver units, each controlling 4 HL1606 LED strips. The light displays are synchronized across all of the LED driver units via a 2.4 GHz radio, with each driver falling into synch almost immediately after being powered on. While some might be turned off to the fact that he uses Arduino Pro Minis to control the LEDs, this is far from a simple project.

[Alan’s] blog contains several posts about this project, with everything documented in detail. He spends quite a bit of time talking about the project’s software, as well as hardware issues he ran into along the way.

His blog is a must read, but even more so, it is a must see. The lighting effects are mesmerizing, as there are a ton of different light patterns these units can generate, so be sure to check out the following video of the lights in action.


15 thoughts on “Radio-controlled LED Light Show

  1. i think this project is the core for a new toy for their act. look at their page/videos, they’re carni-ravers :D what I’m REALLY interested in is how this will be housed. the problem with most LED/rave toys is that the plastic housings are so shitty that if they smack together (like when doing glow-poi/stringing) they explode into a million pieces. I was thinking that this will be for a staff, but the led strips would have to be placed back-to-back for full a 360 degree viewing angle, so maybe its for persistence of vision poi.

    if anyone here is into making their own rave toys, hit me up (

  2. @xeracy, the strips come in a silicone ‘sleeve’ and we are intending to fit that in some fairly rigid translucent PVC tubing that will be attached to the arms & legs of the performers, so there’ll be an additional joint in the middle of each strip. Others will go on a wheel for POV stuff, yet others will go on static equipment, and then there’s also the stiltwalkers…

    @anon, there’ll be performance videos at a future date :-)

  3. “Oh! It was OK!! But there were no clowns, no tigers, lions or bears,
    cand-floss, toffee apples, no clowns.”

    Oh WAIT! THAT was the Circus of HEAVEN!



  4. @paul w, the patterns are stored in both the controller and on the slaves. The clocks on the Pro Minis tend to drift (they are fairly cheap resonators), so the master sends out a continuous stream of ‘you should be at this step’ messages to keep everything in lock. That also means that if the slave loses comms with the master, as soon as it is regained the slave will jump back into sync – that’s what happens in the video when the 2nd slave is turned on whilst the 1st is already running.

    It’s the same pattern generation in both the master and slave, with virtualised output that in the master drives the radio, and in the slave drives the LEDs.

  5. I’m from The Travelling Light Circus and can confirm that we are going to be putting these to good use in many, many ways. We’ll be doing all sorts of festival entertainments in the UK later this year and will be posting new videos whenever possible. Thanks for the great feedback, and use our site to keep in touch; we have an occasional newsletter if you’re interested:

    Big, big thanks to Alan for all his work. The blog doesn’t tell the half of it I promise you!

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