How To Cram 945 LEDs Into A Teeny Tiny Vegas-Style Sphere

[Carl Bugeja] finds the engineering behind the Las Vegas Sphere fascinating, and made a video all about the experience of designing and building a micro-sized desktop version. [Carl]’s version is about the size of a baseball and crams nearly a thousand RGB pixels across the surface.

A four-layer flexible PCB is the key to routing data and power to so many LEDs.

Putting that many addressable LEDs — even tiny 1 mm x 1 mm ones — across a rounded surface isn’t exactly trivial. [Carl]’s favored approach ended up relying on a flexible four-layer PCB and using clever design and math to lay out an unusual panel shape which covers a small 3D printed geodesic dome.

Much easier said that done, by the way. All kinds of things can and do go wrong, from an un-fixable short in the first version to adhesive and durability issues in later prototypes. In the end, however, it’s a success. Powered over USB-C, his mini “sphere” can display a variety of patterns and reactive emojis.

As elegant and impressive as the engineering is in this dense little display, [Carl] has some mixed feelings about the results. 945 individual pixels on such a small object is a lot, but it also ends up being fairly low-resolution in the end. It isn’t very good at displaying sharp lines or borders, so any familiar shapes (like circles or eyes) come out kind of ragged. It’s also expensive. The tiny LEDs may be only about 5 cents each, but when one needs nearly a thousand of them for one prototype that adds up quickly. The whole bill of materials comes out to roughly $250 USD after adding up the components, PCB, controller, and mechanical parts. It’s certainly a wildly different build than its distant cousin, the RGB cube.

Still, it’s an awfully slick little build. [Carl] doubts there’s much value in pursuing the idea further, but there are plenty of great images and clips from the build. Check out the video, embedded below.

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CES: Microsoft Hacks Up Next OS As SOC

With the Pre-CES Keynote made by [Steve Ballmer], the announcement came that the next iteration of their operating system being available in SOC specific form.  This will lead to windows being able to run a very diverse hardware set in a much more efficient manner than it does right now.  Microsoft displayed 4 different versions of what the next generation prototypes are from 4 different manufacturers but there has been no work done yet on the GUI for SOC as [Ballmer] was very clear to mention that more than a couple of times.  Some photos of the prototypes can be found after the break!

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Hackaday Sort Of Going To C.E.S.

We have decided that C.E.S. just really isn’t as much of a hacker mecca as we would have wished. Sure there were brilliantly shining walls of new 3d televisions and cellphones and camcorders as far as the eye could see, but there was mainly just tons of marketing for very little innovation, and much less hacker-centric gear than we had hoped. We had fun and tried to keep things interesting, but just couldn’t justify sending people from all over the country to Vegas for a week this year.

[Greg] had planned on going anyway, so we’ll still get a few updates when he finds the bits that interest us. He should also be snapping pictures and tossing them on twitter throughout the show. Be sure to let him know what you would like to see.

‘Mod In The USA’ N900 PUSH Competition

Just when you think you’ve heard all you can about the N900 PUSH competition, we have some more news for you.

The original PUSH competition was only for UK members, but now Nokia has introduced the ‘Mod in the USA‘ N900 PUSH competition. Similar to the original, anyone (within region) can submit a cool mod, hack, useful creation that would use the N900. Winners will be selected, and thats when the differences start.

There will be a $10,000 for 1st prize, and smaller prizes for 2nd and 3rd. Plus a trip to Vegas to showcase the 3 winning hacks at CTIA 2010 as well as funding, N900s and support to build the mods.

Don’t have an idea but still want to try? They have a discussion group to get the juices flowing, or you could always discuss in our comments.

[Update: The original PUSH competition was actually world wide. Thanks Matt and Ricardo]