Disco balls take a zillion mirrors glued to a sphere and shine a spotlight on them. But what if the ball itself was the light source? Here’s a modern version that uses addressable LEDs in a 3D-printed sphere that also hides the electronics inside the ball itself.
Check out the video below to see the fantastic results. It’s a Teensy 3.6 driving a whopping 130 WS2812 LEDs to make this happen. (Even though the sphere has the lowest surface area to volume ratio.) There’s even a microphone and an accelerometer to make the orb interactive. Hidden inside is a 4400 mAh battery pack that handles recharging and feeds 5 V to the project.
For us, it’s the fabrication that really makes this even more impressive. The sphere itself is 3D printed as four rings that combine to form a sphere. This makes perfect spacing for the LEDs a snap, but you’re going to spend some time soldering the voltage, ground, and data connections from pixel to pixel. In this case that’s greatly simplified because the LEDs were sourced from AliExpress already hosted on a little circle of PCB so you’re not trying to solder on the component itself. Still, that’s something like 390 wires requiring 780 solder joints!
We love seeing an LED ball you can hold in your hand. But if you do want something bigger, try this 540 LED sphere built from triangular PCBs.
Continue reading “Disco Ain’t Dead: Blinky Ball Makes You Solder Inside a Dome”
Earlier this week, we came across a video of an orb-based eyeball that would follow you throughout the room, based on data gathered from a Kinect sensor. Try as we might, we couldn’t find much more than the video, but it seems that the guys behind the project have spoken up in a recent blog post.
[Jon George] of The Design Studio UK explained that the person-tracking eyeball visualization was built using a PC, a Kinect, and a product called the Puffersphere, which projects a 360 degree image on the inside of a glass orb. A panoramic image is converted for use by the special lens inside the sphere by applying a filter which warps the image into a circular shape.
After the image has been created, a simple Windows app is used in conjunction with the OpenNI framework that allows the image to follow you around the room.
The only problem with this fun little project is the price of the sphere – we’re not sure what it is exactly, but rest assured it is more than we are willing to pay for such a toy. We’re thinking there has to be a way to simulate the orb’s effect to some degree using cheaper hardware. It’s possible that it could be done using a small-scale DIY version of this spherical mirror projection build, though it consists of concave half-spheres rather than full orbs.
In the meantime, take a look at these two videos of the orb in action. Don’t worry – we know you were totally thinking about the Eye of Sauron, so the second video should not disappoint.
Continue reading “People-tracking orb demo makes us want to build our own”
SWARM has been showing up at a number of places. Until now, the mysterious spheres have been under human control. However, the SWARM has taken the first steps to autonomous control. The SWARM is a kinetic art project consisting of several large self-propelled metallic spheres that interact with each other and their environment. Each orb in the swarm is fitted out with a processor, GPS, accelerometers, and Zigbee wireless communications. The entire project is open source. Slated to appear at the 2008 Burning Man festival, the orbs will use their GPS to wander within a specified area, keeping themselves “in bounds”.
Continue reading “Autonomous SWARM at large”
SWARM is a large scale kinetic art project. The electrically powered spheres move by shifting the batteries around the center axle. By tilting the central ring, th orb can steer as well. The SWARM members are currently radio controlled, but the plan is for them to eventually receive commands from a mother node. More information about the orbs’ design is available on the project wiki. A video of the wobbly buggers in motion is embedded after the break.
Continue reading “Maker Faire 2008: SWARM”