Tutorial Teaches You To Use Neopixels With Micropython

Addressable LEDs are wonderful things, with products like Neopixels making it easy to create all kinds of vibrant, blinking glowables. However, for those without a lot of electronics experience, using these devices can seem a bit daunting. [Bhavesh Kakwani] is here to help, with his tutorial on getting started with Neopixels using the MicroPython environment. 

The tutorial flows on from [Bhavesh’s] Blink example for MicroPython, and is aimed at beginners who are learning for the first time. It explains the theory behind RGB color mixing that allows one to generate all manner of colors with WS2812B-based LED strings, and how to code for the Raspberry Pi Pico to make these LEDs do one’s bidding.

The guide even covers the use of the Wokwi simulation tool. This is a great way for beginners to test their projects before having to play with actual hardware. This is useful for beginners, because it’s a great way to catch mistakes – is there a software problem, or did they push the soldering iron through the microcontroller? It’s also a technique that pays dividends when working on more complicated projects.

Whether you’re entirely new to the embedded world, or just want to learn the intricacies of talking to addressable LEDs and make sense of color mixing theory, this tutorial will serve you well. Before you know it, you’ll be building glowing projects with the best of them!

 

DIY Nanoleaf LED Panels Offer Peace Of Mind

Nanoleaf light panels are a popular product for creating glowing geometric designs on walls. However, for those that like to avoid IoT devices that integrate with big cloud services, they’re not ideal, and involve compromising on one’s privacy, somewhat. [Viktor] decided to build something of his own instead to avoid this problem.

The design is that of an equilateral triangle, which allows the panels to tesselate well. Each panel consists of two 3D printed parts. The black PLA base holds the WS2812B LED strips, cabling, and ESP8266 controller, while a white PLA cover goes over the top, which acts as a diffuser to spread the light from the individual LEDs. Each triangle contains 24 LEDs, and six triangles together consume around 1.6 amps when in use.

The benefit of the system is that it’s not controlled from a company’s cloud system, which can be shutdown at any time. [Viktor’s] setup runs entirely independently, and can be controlled from a simple web page. Plus, there’s nothing stopping him from modifying the code to use the panels for any purpose; commercial products like Nanoleaf don’t offer anywhere near the flexibility of building your own.

We’ve seen others build their own smart lighting with similar techniques before, too. Video after the break.

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You Can Now Build Your Own Glowing LED D20 (with A Whopping 2,400 LEDs)

The D20, or twenty-sided die, is most commonly known in the shape of a regular icosahedron. It’s a fantastic, enchanting geometry, and one that has held the balance of fate in innumerable tabletop roleplaying games over the years. It was this sacred geometry that [Greg Davill] chose to bless with the glory of glowing RGB LEDs. Now, [Greg] has shared the files so you can build your own.

The development blog of the D20 is a great read, highlighting the challenges of creating such a compact item that glows so brilliantly. The design uses a full 2400 1.5 mm x 1.5mm LEDs, in the old-school RGB style, split evenly between the twenty sides. That’s right, there’s no fancy self-addressing smart LEDs here — each LED is manually controlled directly by [Greg]’s hardware. A SAMD51 and ICE40UP5K FPGA are put to work running the displays. Each panel is held together in a barely-there 3D printed frame, linked together with ribbon cables to keep things compact. A Sony camera battery is slotted inside the tight confines of the frame to supply the necessary power.

We first covered the project late last year, and it’s great to see it out there now in a form that’s readily reproduced. Assembly of such a board is not for the faint of heart, however, with plenty of fine SMD parts to tangle with. We suspect this is just yet another salvo in the ongoing arms race of LED glowables, and we can’t wait to see what [Greg] — and the rest of the community — comes out with next. If you’ve got a lead on the new glowing hotness, let us know. Video after the break.

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Mimic Artfully Employs LEDs In Fashion

Any science fiction piece set in the near-future involves clothes that light up or otherwise have some form of electronics inside. This hasn’t happened in mainstream fashion just yet, but [Amped Atelier] are doing serious work in the field. Mimic was their entry for the 2016 MakeFashion Gala, serving as a great example of LEDs in fashion done right.

Mimic consists of two pieces, designed as cocktail dresses that mimic their surroundings, in much the same way as a chameleon. LEDs are controlled by an Arduino, fitted with a colour sensor. When activated, the Arduino can change the color of the LEDs to match whatever is presented to the sender. This technology could serve as a great way to avoid clashing with a friend’s outfit, or to send a surreptitious signal to your ride that you’re ready to leave.

The LEDs are hidden beneath attractive geometric diffusers, which are 3D printed directly on to the fabric of the outfit. This gives an attractive, finished look to the garment, and allows the diffusers to naturally flow with the lines of the piece.

These pieces show that it’s possible to create glowable night wear that is as stylish as it is high tech. If you’re looking for something a little edgier however, we’ve got that too. Video after the break.

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