So, I pulled off my Piano Stairs hack this past weekend using parts from Adafruit! Specifically, a Raspberry Pi, an Arduino Uno, and a bunch of photoresistors. I used flashlights on each stair, across from the photoresistors, in order to up the contrast and make it way more robust. (Without flashlights, you get effects like people casting shadows on stairs they’re not actually standing on, etc.)
Now, that was for a hackathon, but I think I have an opportunity to install this semi-permanently (well, maybe a few days or a few weeks) elsewhere on campus. However, the problem with flashlights is that the batteries only last a few hours, and I’d like to just be able to plug something in.
Little Boots is a pop star with a sparkly, bright edginess. She collaborated with designer Michelle Wu to make this adorable light up LED Dress.
The LED dress enhances her live show, as her body movement, the LED lights, and the music begin to play off each other in the most visually entrancing manner. Furthermore, the dress is a logical advancement of the Tenori-On instrument she uses (which has a grid of LEDs that control sound through touch).
The light-up instrument x the light-up dress = luminescent insanity.
NEW PRODUCT – NeoPixel Ring – 24 x WS2812 5050 RGB LED with Integrated Drivers – Round and round and round they go! 24 ultra bright smart LED NeoPixels are arranged in a circle with 2.6″ (66mm) outer diameter. The rings are ‘chainable’ – connect the output pin of one to the input pin of another. Use only one microcontroller pin to control as many as you can chain together! Each LED is addressable as the driver chip is inside the LED. Each one has ~18mA constant current drive so the color will be very consistent even if the voltage varies, and no external choke resistors are required making the design slim. Power the whole thing with 5VDC and you’re ready to rock.
There is a single data line with a very timing-specific protocol. Since the protocol is very sensitive to timing, it requires a real-time microconroller such as an AVR, Arduino, PIC, mbed, etc. It cannot be used with a Linux-based microcomputer or interpreted microcontroller such as the netduino or Basic Stamp. Our wonderfully-written Neopixel library for Arduino supports these pixels! As it requires hand-tuned assembly it is only for AVR cores but others may have ported this chip driver code so please google around. An 8MHz or faster processor is required.
Comes as a single ring with 24 individually addressable RGB LEDs assembled and tested.
This is a great starter project from TheFreeElectron via Instructables. This tutorial is perfect for someone just starting out with their Pi.
The Raspberry Pi is an amazing 35 dollars mini-computer. It allows you to do everything you could do with a regular Linux computer (Connecting to the internet, watching videos, launching applications, …) but also to interact with the world surrounding it, just like an Arduino. That’s why I qualify it as a mix between a computer and a micro-controller.
That’s also why I chose it for this project. I’m going to show you how to control LEDs with your Raspberry Pi. Firstly directly from the Raspberry Pi itself, then from any device in your house like your Smartphone or your tablet…
These goggles look a bit like aviator/welding goggle designs but are not for any sort of eye-protection! They are costume goggles only! You can wear them on top of your head or on your eyes but do not use for welding or flying or motorcycling, etc.
The goggles are fully plastic and have screw-off lens-holders. Each goggle comes with two lenses per eye: one clear glass and one 50% tint plastic. The dark tint lens makes it so you can stuff electronics into the goggles without people being able to see them, but still lets thru plenty of light from your LEDs. Of course, they fit our NeoPixel 16 rings quite well (that’s what we got ‘em for!)
There’s no foam or padding, you can add your own foam if you need more comfort, but basically these were meant for wearing on top of your head. Since they’re plastic, you can easily cut holes in the side parts for attaching more LEDs, control buttons, etc.
2.8″ TFT Touch Shield for Arduino – 2.8″: Spice up your Arduino project with a beautiful large touchscreen display shield with built in microSD card connection. This TFT display is big (2.8″ diagonal) bright (4 white-LED backlight) and colorful (18-bit 262,000 different shades)! 240×320 pixels with individual pixel control. It has way more resolution than a black and white 128×64 display. As a bonus, this display has a resistive touchscreen attached to it already, so you can detect finger presses anywhere on the screen. (read more)
This is a great wrap up to our Halloween coverage! All of our fellow New Yorkers were treated to an awesome light show last night courtesy of Marc Brickman. Check it out via core77.
The lights on the Empire State Building are among those magical aspects of the city that New Yorkers take for granted—we don’t really care what color they are, as long we can orient ourselves to the unmistakable beacon of Manhattan from whatever vantage point we’re at. For what its worth, the colors change like the weather: for holidays, of course, from Independence Day to World Diabetes Day (today); sporting events such as the marathon on Sunday; and enough other special events that more often than not, the lights symbolize something—the full schedule is available online.
A very brief history of the lights: The very first lights on the tower were installed in 1956, 25 years after the Empire State Building was completed; these four beacons were replaced by floodlights in 1964 to illuminate the building for the World’s Fair, and colored lights came in 1976, presumably for America’s bicentennial. The ESB upgraded from metal halide lamps to custom LEDs designed by Philips Color Kinetics (PCK):
“This system, which is unique to ESB, allows customized light capabilities from a palette of over 16 million colors in limitless combinations along with effects previously not possible such as ripples, cross-fades, sparkles, chasers, sweeps, strobes and bursts. In addition to greater control and management of the lighting, the new computerized system delivers superior light and vibrancy levels in real-time, unlike the previous floodlights.”
Halloween marked the occasion for the addition of LEDs to the antenna, as well as a first-ever LED Halloween light show by Marc Brickman, pictured at the controls above. Those of us who have been to major cities in Asia are likely familiar with the love of incandescent architectural spectacle, but it’s always a nice treat for New Yorkers—after all, the Empire State Building remains the cynosure of our lovely skyline and I must say, aerial footage always gets to me.
NEW PRODUCT – 30mm Dots – 12V Digital RGB LED Pixels (Strand of 20) [WS2801]. RGB Pixels are digitally-controllable lights you can set to any color, or animate. Each round ‘pixel cluster’ contains 3 RGB LEDs and a controller chip soldered to a PCB. The pixel is then encased in a translucent white ‘dot’ to make it weatherproof. These are fairly large pixels but they are easy to mount, with two plastic flanges. They’re typically used to make outdoor signs. Compared to our other LED dots, these are much bigger and much brighter, good for larger scale installations.
The pixels are connected by a 4-conductor cable. +12VDC, ground, data and clock. Data is shifted down from one pixel to the next so that you can easily cut the strand or attach more onto the end.
Each dot is digitally controlled, with an internal 8-bit PWM LED driver (24-bit color for 16 million different shades). The pixels must be clocked by a microcontroller, we have an example code linked below that works on an Arduino, it should be simple to adapt it to any other microcontroller.
The pixels use 3 x 5050 RGB LEDs, and the dot has full 180 degree color spread due to to the translucent nature. All of the LEDs are controlled at once so you cannot have one pixel with the three LEDs different colors. (Color control is per single dot 3-LED pixel only) The total max brightness of all LEDs is about 4000mcd. (Please note: mcd ratings of LEDs are notoriously inflated by most LED sellers, so be extra-skeptical when reviewing LED ratings!)
Sold by the strand, each strand has 20 pixels in series! Each strand has two JST SM 3-pin connectors so you can connect multiple strands in a row, as many as you wish, just watch for how much current they want. The two power wires are brought out separately to make wiring easier, a 2.1mm terminal block adapter is handy here to attach a DC power supply. We have a 12V/5A supply that should be able to drive 2 or more strands (depending on current use). The LEDs are constant-current driven so you’ll have even colors through-out the strand as long as you have a stable 12V supply
The researchers used a micro-LED light bulb to transmit 3.5Gbit/s via each of the three primary colours – red, green, blue – that make up white light.
This means over 10Gbit/s is possible.
Li-fi is an emerging technology that could see specialised LED lights bulbs providing low-cost wireless internet connectivity almost everywhere.
On beyond smart hoops there is Maru. Here is a peek at version 1.0 in all its janky, buggy glory! The project is in its initial stages; this is our first prototype.
Maru is a fully programmable, wireless LED hula hoop. Using open source software called Vixen, you can create performance specific sequences for one or more hoops by importing your music and adding color changes, fades and other effects that are perfectly timed to the soundtrack.
In this video, you’ll see some of what Maru can do. And to keep it real, you’ll also see some of the problems with the prototype.
Maru is designed and engineered by Akiba (Chris Wang) of Freaklabs with enthusiastic support by Tink (Kristen McQuillin) of Spin Matsuri.