It seems that most of the electrical engineering covered on Hackaday concerns exactly one problem domain: how to blink a bunch of LEDs furiously. There are plenty of LED drivers out there, but one of the more interesting in recent memory came from ISSI in the form of a chip that turns I2C into a Charlieplexed LED array. You may have seen this chip — the IS31FL3731 — in the form of an Adafruit LED matrix and some stupid thing some idiot made, but with it you’re only ever going to get 144 LEDs in an array, not enough if you want real blinky bling.
Now ISSI has released a more capable chip that turns I2C into many more
Charlieplexed LEDs. The IS31FL3741 will drive up to 351 LEDs in a 39×9 matrix, or if you’re really clever, an 18×18 single color LED matrix.
Features of this chip include reverse/short detection for each individual LED, 8-bit PWM, dimming functions, a de-ghosting feature that guarantees a LED is either on or off, a configurable row/column matrix, and a few other handy tools that you would like to see in a LED matrix driver chip. The most impressive chip in this series will be available for under $2/piece in quantities of 2500, although unlike the IS31FL3731, it appears this new chip will only be available in a QFN package.
Speaking from experience, this is a really great chip for driving a whole boatload of LEDs, provided you have a pick and place machine. Yes, you can hand-solder a QFN and several hundred 0402 LEDs, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I really, really wouldn’t recommend it. That said, this is the perfect chip for maximum blinky bling, and the press material from ISSI gives us the great idea of using one of these chips as the backlight controller for RGB LED mechanical keyboards. That’s a great application, and the chip is pretty cheap, too.
You can check out ISSI’s blinky demo video of this chip below.
Continue reading “New Part Day: I2C In, Charlieplexed LEDs Out”
EE and firmware developer [Enrico] had played with LEDs as a kid, burning out his fair share of them by applying too much current. With the benefit of his firmware chops, he set about creating a board that drives LEDs properly.
[Enrico]’s project centers around a Texas Instruments LM3405 buck controller. It accepts input voltage from anywhere from 3V to 20V and outputs up to 20V/15W to one or more LEDs. He built a ton of safety features into it like short-circuit and open-circuit immunity, temperature control, and auto-off switching when idle. He also created a LED board to test the maximum efficiency of the driver. It consists of four Luxeon Rebel ES diodes, one each RGB and W. The entire back of the LED board is copper, with a monster heat sink attached.
You can follow along with the Glighter-S project on Hackaday.io, or you can buy one of his boards from his Tindie store.
We’ve covered LED drivers extensively in the past, with posts on a simple 10-watt LED driver and how to design your own LED driver.
When [hkdcsf] was a teenager, he made a Christmas star with an up counter driving decoder logic and using transistors to light LEDs in festive patterns. He’s revisited this project using modern techniques including a microcontroller, a DC/DC converter, and constant current LED drivers.
The project uses two AA batteries, and that’s what makes the DC/DC converter necessary. Blue LEDs have a forward voltage of just over 3V, and the LED driver chip requires about 0.6V of overhead. Two fresh AAs will run a tad above 3V, but as they discharge, or if he’s using rechargeables, there just won’t be enough potential. To make sure the star works even with whatever LEDs are chosen, the converter takes the nominal 3V from the batteries and converts it to 3.71V.
Continue reading “Christmas Star uses Two AA Batteries”
We’ve all seen Daft Punk helmet builds, but [George’s] project is a homemade LED helmet that takes no shortcuts and packs the visor full of hundreds of individual lights. He started with a prototype that uses a PIC 18F4580 microcontroller connected to a MAX7221 LED driver, which gave him control over some dot matrix displays to test the wiring and sample script. He then used this prototype setup to develop a scrolling text function.
With testing complete, [George] wired hundreds of LEDs into 8×8 block sections, using a cardboard jig to keep everything straight. He could have stopped there, but [George] took the build further, adding an LCD display and a 7-segment clock module to the inside of the helmet, in view of the wearer. The clock displays the helmet’s current beats per minute rate, while the LCD shows the content being displayed (pattern, text / Pacman, stripes). It’s possible to see out between the bottom of the display and the chin of the helmet. If you need better visibility we’d recommend a bike helmet matrix that isn’t as dense.
You can watch a video of the helmet running different patterns below. (Warning: music). When you’re done with that, why not LED all the things: from Infinity Mirrors to LED Sneakers.
Continue reading “Homemade LED helmet”
[Maximilian Güntner] dropped us a comment in last week’s globe writeup linking to his own project, which involves a similar high power LED driver mod. This looks like the exact same mod we came up with, and [Güntner] even used the mod to connect a bunch of high power LEDs to a PCA9685 LED driver [pdf]. It’s the same exact concept as Disco Planet!
It should come as no surprise that people have actually been modding high power led drivers in this way for some time. They are a few bucks per handful and take an enormous input voltage range. In [Güntner]’s case he grabbed a bunch of these from Dealextreme. Actually there are two others on the site, and all three contain comments (dating back a year) with helpful tips on various ways to modify the little PCB.
Our Ebay sourced boards are different though. The boards [Güntner] purchased employ the PowTech PT4115 [pdf] which uses fewer parts and has an easy to follow data sheet. Take, for instance, the pin graciously labeled “DIM” with a little PWM signal next to it. The nerve! The Ebay drivers use the MCP34063 [pdf] which has a much more cryptic data sheet (burned two weeks and several notebook pages to figure out the circuit). Ultimately the two are so similar it makes no difference.
So, if you want to mod some LED drivers on your own, check out the how-to video after the jump. Thanks [mguentner]!
Continue reading “Another eerily similar high power LED driver hack”
A few years ago, the highest power LEDs you could buy capped out around three watts. Now, LED manufacturers are taking things to ridiculous power ratings with 30, 40, and even 90 watt LEDs. Getting these high-power LEDs are no longer a problem, but powering them certainly is. [Thomas] built a LED driver capable of powering these gigantic LEDs and creating a light show that is probably bright enough to cause bit of eye damage.
[Thomas]’ LED driver is based on Linear Technology’s LT3518 LED driver. This driver is part of a project to build a huge WiFi controlled RGB LED, so the driver has outputs for three separate LEDs capable of sourcing 700 mA each.
Because [Thomas] is dealing with crazy amounts of heat and power required to light up these huge LEDs, the driver board features a temperature sensor next to each LED driver. When the board gets too hot, the driver automatically shuts down, preventing bad things from happening.
You can check out a few pictures of [Thomas]’ LED driver over on the build page for his WiFi LED project. A truly awesome amount of lighting power here, that also makes it impossible to get a good picture of the board in operation.
Hackaday’s very own [Mike Szczys] just shared an awesome binary clock he’s been working on. Unlike a normal binary clock that is only readable by self-admitted geeks and nerds, [Mike]’s clock is nearly comprehensible by the general population.
There are 12 lines of three LEDs around the face of [Mike]’s clock. These LEDs represent the time in minutes in binary – the inner LED is 1, the middle LED is 2, and the outer LED is 4. Adding up each of the LEDs around the clock face gives the number of minutes passed since the top of the hour.
To display the hour, [Mike] used a red/blue bi-color LED in the center of each line of LEDs. For example, at 1:03 the one ‘o clock hand will have a blue LED in the first position and a purple LED in the second position. A minute later at 1:04, this changes to blue, red, blue.
If that is a little confusing, there’s a wonderful video demonstrating the pattern of LEDs throughout the hour.
For such an interesting clock, the build is fairly simple – just an ATtiny44 with an STP16CP05 LED driver. Time is kept with a battery-backed MCP7940 real-time clock, and power is provided by a simple USB port.
[Mike] had enough boards manufactured for several dozen clocks, but only had enough parts (and patience) to solder up four clocks. You can check out the time-lapse of him going to town with a soldering iron on one of these boards after the break. As with all good builds, the code and schematics are provided on GitHub if you’d like to make your own.
Continue reading “A novel binary clock from Hackaday’s own”