LED Flame Illuminates The Beauty Of Noise

Have you ever wrapped up a nice blinky project only to be disappointed by the predictability of the light or the color patterns? When it came to lighting this LED candle, so was [fungus amungus]. But there’s a better way, and it involves noise.

Perlin noise was created in the early 80s by Ken Perlin while he was working on the movie Tron. Frustrated by the current state of computer graphics and too limited on space to use images, he devised an algorithm for generating natural-looking textures. Basically, you generate a bunch of numbers between 0 and 1, then assign values to those numbers, such as a range of greyscale values from black (0) to white (1), or the values from the color wheel. The result is much prettier than random numbers because the neighboring values for any given number aren’t radically different. You get nice randomness with hardly any overhead.

[fungus amungus] is using the FastLED’s noise function to generate the numbers, but there’s a whole lot more going on here. As he explains in the excellent video after the break, if you want to animate these values, you just add another dimension of them. Although [fungus amungus] is using a Trinket Pro and a NeoPixel ring, we think a simplified version could be done with a Circuit Playground Express using the built-in LEDs.

If you want to do it the hard way, start by making your own NeoPixel ring.

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Bucky Glow: Have A Ball While You Practice Coding

About a year ago, [Jonathan Bumstead] built a giant, touch-sensitive, interactive RGB LED geodesic dome that somehow escaped our attention entirely. For this year’s Hackaday Prize, he’s designed a smaller version that’s just as awesome, but a lot faster and easier to build.

The Bucky Glow is great way for hackers of all ages to expand their coding and problem solving skills. This interactive dodecahedron consists of 11 RGB LEDs and a Nano inside 12-sided laser-cut MDF sculpture. The breakout header means you’re free to add interactive bits like a DIY capacitive touch keyboard, IR sensor/emitter pairs, motors, or whatever you want.

When it’s time to relax, Bucky Glow puts on a light show. It comes ready to party without any programming necessary, but if you wanna put on some Pink Floyd and get your hands dirty, [Jonathan]’s custom Processing app makes it easy to program complex light shows.

[Jonathan] is currently working on some different Bucky Glow dissemination methods, such as a kit version. For now, you can buy a fully assembled Bucky Glow through the One Bit Kit store. Interact with the break to try it before you buy it.

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A Mini Stacker Arcade Cabinet

For [LumoW], what started as a school project turned into a passion project. He and his team made a hardware implementation of an arcade game called Stacker. Never heard of it? It’s pretty fun, kind of like an inverse Tetris. You can play the flash version here and see their mini arcade version after the break.

The game is based around the Mojo FPGA which the class required, and it’s programmed entirely in bitwise operators. It uses WS2812 RGB LEDs to represent the individual tower building blocks, and these are mounted on plywood in a matrix and separated into cells by a grid of foam board. After some trial and error, the team found the perfect shade of acrylic to diffuse the bright dots into glowing squares.

Since the game only needs one input, we don’t think [LumoW] should apologize at all for using the biggest, baddest button they could find. Besides, the game has that edge-of-your-seat action that can turn panic into heavy-handedness and cool DIY arcade games into shards of sadness.

Looking for something more advanced to do with an FPGA? Try your hand at vector games.

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Easy UFO Lights On Your Drone For Halloween

Sometimes it’s not so much what you put together, it’s how you use it. The folks at Adafruit have put up a project on how to dress up your drone with ‘UFO lights’ just in time for Halloween. The project is a ring of RGB LEDs and a small microcontroller to give any quadcopter a spinning ‘tractor beam light’ effect. A 3D printed fixture handles attachment. If you’re using a DJI Phantom 4 like they are, you can power everything directly from the drone using a short USB cable, which means hardly any wiring work at all, and no permanent changes of any kind to the aircraft. Otherwise, you’re on your own for providing power but that’s probably well within the capabilities of anyone who messes with add-ons to hobby aircraft.

One thing this project demonstrates is how far things have come with regards to accessibility of parts and tools. A 3D printed fixture, an off-the-shelf RGB LED ring, and a drop-in software library for a small microcontroller makes this an afternoon project. The video (embedded below) also demonstrates how some unfamiliar lights and some darkness goes a long way toward turning the otherwise familiar Phantom quadcopter into a literal Unidentified Flying Object.

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Who Could Resist A Color Coded Clock?

[Luc] wanted to make a clock like no other. He knows that the territory is well-trod, especially in the area of minimalist design. Undeterred, [Luc] came up with a fresh design that uses the resistor color code to display the time. He’s calling it the Nerd’s Ultimate Watch.

It doesn’t get much more minimalist than four RGB LEDs. Each one illuminates in the color that represents the digit in the current time. For instance, I’m typing this sentence at 1:37PM. The clock uses 24-hour time, so let’s call it 13:37. Using resistor color code time, that’s 1, 3, 3, 7, or brown, orange, orange, violet.
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Czech Out Raspberry Pi Riding The Rails

If you were wandering around Prague this Christmas season you may have spotted a Raspberry Pi 2 controlled Christmas tree. But you had to look quick because it was on the back of a special tram car that lubricates the rails around the city to reduce noise. The colors on the tree were determined by a web site that allowed visitors to change the colors. The same system, with a few adjustments, controlled a tree in the entrance hall of Czech Technical University in Prague at Karlovo.

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The adjustments weren’t trival. Power was a problem, for one. The electrical noise from the tram’s drive motors needed to be filtered by using a switching power supply. Cold temperatures might have created a frozen Pi so they added a heater. After all, everyone loves warm Pi. The LEDs on the tree were handled by a WS2811 addressable LED driver chip.

You can catch the tram any time on the web, but the tree will be gone once the Christmas season ends.

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The HEXXX Gaming Console

Worried about bringing a project to demo at CCC15 (The Chaos Communication Camp), [Anthony Liekens] had to act fast. He would have brought his giant Flying Spaghetti-Monster Display (FSM for short), but unfortunately it wouldn’t fit in his car. So, looking around his garage he realized he had a pile of extra RGB LEDs, and a broken iCade Core. The gears in his head started turning and he came up with the idea for the HEXXX Gaming Console.

So what is it? It’s a hexagonal console designed for three-person gaming — like his Tron for Three and Pong for Three — he even has a 6 player Flappy Bird clone! From conception to reality, it took a mere ten stressful evenings to complete… The end result is quite fantastic. Continue reading “The HEXXX Gaming Console”