These days, addressable LEDs are all the rage. A little chip paired with each LED receives signals and modulates the light output as needed. [John Peterson] was working on a project along these very lines, designing his Curilights back in 2008!
[John] wasn’t the first to come up with the idea; he designed the Curilights to replicate a string of programmable LEDs he’d seen called Triklits. His design involved each RGB LED being fitted with a Microchip PIC 16F688 microcontroller, which could receive serial data and control the LED channels with PWM. These LEDs could then be strung up to create an addressable chain. It’s fundamentally the same concept as the WS2812, just in a larger format and built by hand. His design also had the benefit of non-volatile memory onboard the PICs, so animations could be stored even after power off. [John] later went on to build a controller for his lights, complete with sensors. It could be triggered by a motion sensor or light sensor, and would run animations on the string without the use of a computer.
While [John]’s design didn’t go on to bigger things or commercial success, it did win first place at the Third Annual Lantronix Wireless Design Contest. It also goes to show that many people will come around to the same idea when it makes good sense!
If you’re interested in the wider world of addressable LEDs, check out our breakdown on some of the products out there. Meanwhile, if you’re brewing up your own flashing, glowing projects, be sure to notify the tipsline!