Remote Controlled Glass Block LED Matrix


At Hive13, a Cincinnati-based hackerspace, they like to hack everything – even their bathroom. One of the bathroom’s walls faces the street, and is made up of thick glass privacy blocks. A few years ago, they thought it would be a cool idea to install an LED matrix to the back side of the glass wall to spruce things up a bit. After a couple of iterations, they finally had something they were happy to show off, but they wanted to make it even cooler.

While the the Arduino and ShiftBrite shield running the matrix could be controlled over a serial connection, they wanted to use the ProjectBlinkenlights tools to control things over the network. While that didn’t quite work out as planned, it wasn’t necessarily an exercise in futility. While Blinkenlights controls were out of the question, they were inspired to add OSC compatibility to the Processing sketch, which allows them to work the display with an app available for both Android and iOS devices.

The result is pretty slick, as you can see in the video below. Now all they need to do is get Tetris up and running!

[vimeo w=470]

19 thoughts on “Remote Controlled Glass Block LED Matrix

  1. Either the bathroom has a door leading to the street, or the 2nd story floor is ridiculously thin. Where the hell did they put the plumbing ?

    source site is down atm.

    nice idea nevertheless, and a very clean implementation.

      1. I think he’s saying the distance between the bottom glass block and the top of the door is short, like if it is a 2 story building, they must have used 2×4 joists.
        Or either the glass blocks are just above the door in a high ceiling room.

  2. The website is indeed being hammered. Apparently we did not have the static page caching turned on in wordpress… The server is still technically ‘up’ it just has a load of around 125 right now.

    The group wiki is hosted on another site so it is still up, however I do not think it has been updated with the latest information yet.

    There is another video on Youtube from when we first got the display working:

    And there are a few more pictures available on flickr:

      1. Well… My thought had been to get a few different gas sensors and rate how bad it smelled in the room. Volume had been the other metric considered.

        Sadly, the conversation typically gets shot down pretty soon after it starts.

  3. I was going to suggest a “Number 1 or Number 2? Now you can announce it to the world!” function…. I see that someone else has already suggested it and I’m glad to see I’m not the only one demented enough to think of such a thing…

  4. A business around the corner from me has a larger version of this at the front of their store. Every time I drive past it’s different to the day before. Sometimes a horizontal bar graph or just geometric patterns. Each block seems to allow any colour. No idea what’s driving it.

  5. this is very nice indeed!
    i installed pretty much the same thing 3 years ago in viennas metalab brickwall.

    i also used an arduino, shiftbrites and a fonera with a minimal webserver, some javascript and a little c programm to convert the data from the webserver into something that i can feed to the arduino.

    by now we also got network streaming support in realtime.

    if you are interested in any more details on the thing you can contact me here:


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