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February 12, 2013 AT 2:00 am

DIY Nasa Style Circadian Lighting

Over on the Rasathus’ Raspberry Ramblings blog, Chris Fane has a nice two part series on how he created a Nasa style circadian lighting replica.

Whilst browsing the internet a few weeks back, I stumbled across a BBC article discussing Nasa and Boeing’s creation of a coloured solid state lighting system, destined for the International Space Station.  The lights main benefit is that it’s been designed to provide visual clues to reinforce and assist with the astronauts circadian rhythms.

Which got me thinking; with budgets tightening all over the world right now, why spend $11.2 million dollars when it can all be done with a $35 Raspberry Pi and some $40 Adafruit LEDs.  Leaving us $11.1 million dollars and some change to spend worrying about that pesky space radiation, and its bit flipping tendencies.

From what could be made out from the article,  Blue light is thought to stimulate cells in the eyes, promoting alertness, whilst also suppressing the bodies natural creation of melatonin, key to inducing sleep.  This is great news for people that need to stay alert whilst trapped in a tin can, dodging space debris all day; but really makes it tough to relax and fall asleep at night.  So over time this lighting state gradually transitions through to red, to ‘encourage a feeling of sleepiness’.

So anyway, enough getting tied down with all of these facts, lets have some fun.

RGB Pixels are digitally-controllable lights you can set to any color, or animate. Each RGB LED and controller chip is molded into a ‘dot’ of silicone. The dots are weatherproof and rugged. There are four flanges molded in so that you can ‘push’ them into a 12mm drill hole in any material up to 1.5mm/0.06″ thick. They’re typically used to make outdoor signs. These pixels have a flat square back, we also have pixels that are long and thin, both are the same electronics, just different shapes!

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