Update: Live Video Played On LED Strip Display


[Paul] took this LED display along with him to Maker Faire. To give it some interactivity he figured out a way to make it play live video. It is also activated using some stomp actuators built from piezo speaker elements and rubber floor mats.

This moves his original project in new directions. Back in February he was showing off the RGB LED strip display. He had it playing video but that was all dependent on using previously processed files. This upgrade uses a BeagleBone Black (the newest rendition of the ARM-based development board). [Paul] had tried using a Raspberry Pi board but had trouble with the webcam (mounted above the LED display) dropping frames. With the new board he is able to use the Video4Linux API to capture 30 frames per second and push them out to the display.

So far he’s had five out of the 1920 LEDs die on him. This shows off a couple of good things about using strips like this. A dead pixel doesn’t affect its neighbors. And replacement is as easy as cutting the ribbon on either side of the bad component, then soldering a new segment in place.


11 thoughts on “Update: Live Video Played On LED Strip Display

    1. It’s just perfect you should complain about the cost, because this approach is dramatically cheaper than any previously available large-scale Video to LED solution, and it’s able to easily display 30 or 60 frames/second using very inexpensive electronics. The LEDs are WS2811 strips, which are the least expensive individually addressable type available. For every 1000 LEDs (approx $220 in LEDs), you need one a $19 Teensy3. The entire display needs one Beaglebone Black at $45, plus a USB 2.0 hub at about $15.

      But then again, it does cost much more than just putting a poster on you wall, at about $10, or posting a comment complaining about costs, at $0.

        1. Ah, now I see that smiley!

          LEDs are indeed impractical for NTSC video resolution in any household room. 76800 LEDs (320×240) would consume 19000 watts when fully white. With inexpensive 75% efficient power supplies, that would be over 100 amps on a 240 volt service, so you’d probably need a 3 phase power service for such a huge display.

          But there are indeed a LOT of really awesome projects you can do with 30 and 60 frames/sec update rates to thousands of LEDs. You can of course write custom software to animate the LED, directly on the Teensy3 boards, on the Beaglebone, or on a PC or Mac, but when it comes to creating animations with light, there are lots of existing programs that handle video. Just because it’s video streams doesn’t mean it’s meant to replace your LCD television!

          Since publishing this library and this demo at Maker Faire, I’ve heard from several groups who are building larger, really impressive LED projects using OctoWS2811. One is a 4-person power-assisted tandem bicycle with a huge 12800 LED screen above the 4 riders (powered by two 2kW generators), of course for Burning Man this year. It won’t be full video resolution, and you definitely would not want to watch a screen that bright in your living room…. but it’s going to be an awesome project. I really hope it gets posted here on HaD.

    1. Yes, it is very high failure rate. I’m really not very happy about that.

      At Maker Faire, another LED failed. I showed up early Sunday (before they opened to the public) to solder in a replacement. While talking with someone about the problem, I touched it. The LED magically started working again!

      Looks like I might have just received a poorly soldered batch?

      I believe the moral of this story is: when buying directly from China (and Ray Wu) on Aliexpress, BUYER BEWARE.

    1. This is a pretty lame product pitch! Spam.

      Even more lame is “a unique software and hardware combination” without any technical specs, posted here on Hack-a-Day of all places, with “price doesn’t include programming fee”.

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