Boneblocker Is A Big LED Wall That Rocks

[Nick Lombardy] took on a job almost every maker imagines themselves doing at some point. He built a giant LED wall and he did a damn fine job of it, too. Introducing BoneBlocker.

BoneBlocker is an 8 x 14 wall of glass blocks that lives at a bar called The Boneyard. Each block was given a length of WS2812B LED strip. 30 LED/meter strips were chosen, as initial maths on the 60 LED/meter strips indicated the whole wall would end up drawing 1.5 kW. Discretion, and all that.

The glowing game controller.

The whole display is run from a WT32-ETH01 board, which is a fast ESP32-based module that has onboard Ethernet to boot. [Nick] used the WLED library as he’d seen others doing great things with it, performance-wise. He ended up using one board per column to keep things fast, but he reckons this was also probably a little bit of overkill.

His article steps through the construction of the wall, the electronics, and the software required to get some games working on the display. The final result is quite something. Perhaps the best bit is his explanation of the custom controller he built for the game. Dig into it, you won’t be disappointed.

In particular, we love how the glass blocks elevate this display to a higher aesthetic level. We’ve seen other great projects tread this same route, too. Video after the break.

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An Animated LED Fireplace Powered By The CH32V003

Once you’ve mastered the near-magical ability of turning your ideas into a piece of hardware you can hold in your hand, it’s only natural that you’ll want to spread the joy. The holidays are a perfect time to produce a custom piece of electronics for friends and family, but there’s a catch: going from making one or two of something to making dozens of them can introduce some interesting challenges. Not only will you want to cost optimize your design, but to save yourself some aggravation, you’ll likely want to simplify the assembly process.

The fifty electronic fireplaces designed by built by [Adam Anderson], [Daniel Quach], and [Johan Wheeler] are a perfect example of both concepts, and while we’re coming across it a bit late for this year’s gift exchange, we wouldn’t be surprised if these MIT-licensed beauties end up under a few more trees in 2024.

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Build Your Own Nanoleaf-Like Hex Lights

Nanoleaf makes a variety of beautiful LED lighting products, with their hexagon tiles particularly popular with gamers and streamers alike. However, they do come at a significant cost, particularly if you want to put together a larger display. [Giovanni Aggiustatutto] decided to build his own version from scratch, with a nice wooden finish to boot.

The benefit of the wooden design is that the panels look nice both when they’re switched on, and when they’re switched off. [Giovanni] selected attractive okumè plywood for the build, which is affordable and has a lovely grain. The hexagons were then fitted on their back side with strips of WS2812B LEDs. The first hexagon is fitted with an ESP32 that runs the lights, with the other hexagons having their LEDs daisychained from there. 3D printed frames were then fitted to each hexagon to allow them to be connected together into a larger wall-hanging piece.

Ultimately, building your own wall lights lets you customize them to operate exactly as you want, and often lets you save a lot of money, too. We’ve featured other similar builds before, too. Video after the break.

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Minimalist LED Lamp Is Circular Beauty Incarnate

Lamps used to be things built to provide light with specific purpose, whether as reading lamps, desk lamps, or bedside table lamps. Now we just build them for the vibes, as with this minimalist LED lamp from [andrei.erdei].

The build uses a 3D-printed frame printed in opaque grey, with a diffuser element printed in a more translucent white. This is key to allowing the LED to nicely glow through the lamp without ugly distracting hotspots spoiling the effect. The lamp mounts 36 WS2812B LEDs in strip form. These are controlled from an Arduino Nano running the FastLED library for lightweight and easy control of the addressable LEDs. Smooth rainbow animations are made easy by the use of the HSV color space, which is more suitable for this job than the RGB color space you may otherwise be more familiar with.

[andrei.erdei] does a great job of explaining the build, including the assembly, electronics, and code aspects. The latter could serve as a particularly good resource if you’re just starting out on your own builds in the blinky, glowable space. Video after the break.

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A WiFi RGB Camera Grip Is Probably Not Ideal For Night Shoots

RGB LEDs can be found on everything from motherboards to sticks of RAM these days. [dslrdiy] wanted to bring this same visual flair to his camera setup, so built what he’s calling the world’s first RGB camera grip.

The build is based on an existing off-the-shelf camera grip. It’s disassembled for the build, with a pair of 18650 lithium batteries installed inside as a power supply. They run a small DC-DC converter, which powers a Raspberry Pi Zero and a WS2812B LED strip which provides the lovely colorful lighting effects. The LEDs light up a translucent spacer installed in the camera grip solely for the purpose of aesthetics.

So far, so straightforward. However, [dslrdiy] also implemented one more useful feature. The Pi Zero is able to scrape photos from the camera, and automatically load them on to a Windows network share. That’s a nice zero-fuss way to get pictures off your camera when you return to your home network.

We’re not sure too many professional photographers will rush after the RGB grip, as it’s often poor practice to introduce strange uncontrolled colorful lights into a scene. However, the wireless tethering feature does seem attractive depending on your usual workflow. Video after the break.

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A Nifty Tool For Counting Neopixels

Picture it. You’ve got a big roll of NeoPixels, but you have no idea how many are actually on the tape. Or you need to count how many WS2812B LEDs are in a display to properly plan your animations. Fear not, for [Gustavo Laureano] has built the perfect tool for counting the addressable LEDs.

The tool is based on a Raspberry Pi Pico, so it’s easy to replicate at home. The LED strip is simply connected to the microcontroller via a set of jumper wires going to the 5V and GND pins, while one of the Pico’s ADC pins is then connected to the strip’s GND pin after the jumper. A further GPIO pin is used to send data to the strip.

Essentially, this uses the jumper wire as a rudimentary current shunt. The code steps through the string of LEDs, turning each one on and then off in turn, comparing the value read by the ADC pin at each state. When the Pico detects no difference in current draw between the on and off states, that suggests it’s trying to turn on an LED beyond the end of the string, and thus the count is concluded.

You don’t need to understand any of that to put this device to good use, however. You can easily whip it up on a breadboard with a Pi Pico and parts you have lying around in the shop. Video after the break.

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Visual Ear Demonstrates How The Cochlea Works

The cochlea is key to human hearing, and it plays an important role in our understanding of complex frequency content. The Visual Ear project aims to illustrate the cochlear mechanism as an educational tool.

The cochlea itself is the part of the ear that converts the pressure waves of sound into electrical signals for the brain. Different auditory frequencies excite different parts of the cochlea. The cells in the different parts of the cochlea then send signals to the brain corresponding to the sound it has picked up.

The Visual Ear demonstrates similar behavior on a strip of addressable LEDs. Lower LEDs coded in the red part of the color spectrum respond to low frequency audio. Higher LEDs step through yellow, green, and up to blue, and respond to the higher frequencies in turn. This is achieved at a high response rate with the use of a Teensy 4.0 running a Fast Fourier Transform on incoming audio, and then outputting signals to run a string of WS2812B LEDs. The result is a visual band display of 104 bands spanning 43 Hz up to 16,744 Hz, which covers most but not all of the human range of hearing.

It’s an impressive display, and one that makes a great music visualizer, too. When teaching the physics of human hearing and the cochlea, we can imagine such a tool would be quite useful.

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