Smart Map Puts On A Show Thanks To Arduinos And DMX

Maps can be a great way to get a message across when the data you’re dealing with affects people on a country’s population scale. [jwolin] works for a non-profit organization, and wanted a way to help people visualize the extent of their operations and the causes they deal with. To do that, he created a nifty smart map wall display.

The display consists of a world map cut out of MDF, and affixed to a brick wall. There’s also two 4K Samsung monitors included as part of the system. The top monitor displays headings to contextualise the data, while the bottom screen displays related full motion video. A series of DMX-controlled lights then shine on the world map in various configurations to highlight the area of interest.

The system requires delicate coordination to operate cleanly and smoothly. There are three Windows 10 computers in the system, one for each monitor and another for the world map. An AutoHotkey script runs on the first computer, which selects a random video, and then sends out a command over serial to an Arduino Nano. This Arduino nano then communicates with two others, which make sure the second screen and DMX lighting rig then play the correct matching sequences, in time with the main video. Special care is taken to ensure that transitions are as smooth as possible, with no gaps in between each sequence. The entire installation is simple to update just by uploading additional content to a Dropbox folder, a crucial touch to future proof the project.

It’s an eye-catching system that helps educate visitors as to the mission of the organisation. We’ve seen other innovative world-map displays, like this clock that highlights night and day around the world. Video after the break.

9 thoughts on “Smart Map Puts On A Show Thanks To Arduinos And DMX

  1. 3 Windows 10 computers and 3 Arduino Nanos !?! Really?
    I could have done it with a ……….ah…………well, any number of single device solutions! Even a modified BD player! Hell even a modified VCR, if you’ll settle for something a bit shy of 4k. And why are we wasting that much real estate on the title screen, anyway? Single video frames could be split between the 2 displays with no consideration of sync whatsoever, and just put the DMX signal on the audio track. I don’t get it, this overly complicated, overly expensive solution is a suitable expenditure for a non-profit orginization?

      1. they just asked the wrong person to build it. that’s all. I completely concur with Piecutter. I build this kind of things on a regular basis and i would just use a off the shelf player for this. but yes, three win10 pc is also a way to build it. If I wanted a extra layer of complication and failure, that would certainly be an option.

    1. I think they probably took 3 PCs due to the costs. If you took your BD-player, that meant customizing it (labor costs). Taking a ready-made pc which goes for some small hundrets of Cash is the much cheaper and faster approach.

  2. Very nice result.

    Rather than several full windows 10 pcs, maybe consider using a single (or maybe two if it can’t drive more than one 4k screen) SBCs that can drive two screens and can run the DMX stack directly.

  3. This may not be as impressive an idea, but why not just get an LED projector and a raspberry pi and then projection map highlights onto the world map. Text could even be projection mapped onto screens to the left rather than use two full TVs. Granted moving led spots are cool and expensive big screen TVs are cool too so maybe projection mapping is not as impressive but it would be a decent frugal alternative.

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