Makers of addressable LED projects have an unhealthy obsession with speed. Which code is fastest? Which hardware? If I tweak this just so, I can shave 2 milliseconds per frame! You can stop obsessing, because Paul Stoffergen’s latest simply buries all others.
Designed expressly for PJRC’s Teensy 3.0 board and compatible with WS2811 LEDs (including our own NeoPixel strips and Flora Smart Pixels), this project is a “poster child” for the next-gen hardware: rather than simply porting an existing Arduino implementation to a board with MOAR MHZ, this new open-source code leverages innate abilities of the Teensy 3’s ARM processor. Using DMA, there’s nearly zero CPU usage when blasting data to 8 LED strips in parallel, freeing the system to synthesize the next frame of animation or stream data over USB or DMX. And if you do somehow reach a performance ceiling, multiple boards can be synchronized. Zoom!
Paul’s tutorial also has some great advice for large LED projects in general, including power, cleaning up signals and some introductory technical details to the ARM CPU features in use.
Have you ever done something silly on a lark and then found it was a big hit? So it went with a “beta test” Halloween idea on the Adafruit Show & Tell last week of my electronic demon costume. This video is a summary of what was done there… and what I’m now scrambling to finish properly before the big day! Video on YouTube (please subscribe!) and Vimeo.
Some updates since this was shot: a Ustream chat participant during Show & Tell suggested using a paintball mask as a base. I’m currently working on the faux ribcage idea… there may be enough space to move most of the electronics there and have just batteries in the pack. We shall see!
HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Each day this month (Monday-Friday) we’re going to have a special “Electronic Halloween” post here on Adafruit. It will be a hack, mod, project or something we’ve found that combines all the best things about electronics and Halloween.
I spent Tuesday afternoon strolling the expo floor at the Embedded Systems Conference (now one of several concurrent events under the “DESIGN West” banner). It’s a big industry show for component electronics and test equipment…mostly out of my league, to be honest…but nonetheless interesting to drop in and see what’s new and where things may be headed.
DISCO! We hope you enjoyed the over-the-top X2 Time Ball video as much as we enjoyed making it! Getting this finished in time for New Year’s Eve meant the progress blog posts would have to wait, so we’ll be returning to a few details now after the fact, and continuing as future design plans are ironed out…
In making our LED disco ball for the new year, it will be necessary to transition from the flat planes of Adalight and Adavision into the three-dimensional world. This has been a humbling experience in the KISS principle: “keep it simple, stupid!” The first tries did not end well…
With Adalight and Adavision out the door, we wanted to cap off the year with at least one more project showcasing the cool things that can be done with our Digital RGB LED Pixels, and we’ll be posting blog updates as the project progresses.
Adalight—ambient lighting for your monitor—was one line of LEDs, formed into a loop. Adavision—a mini LED video wall—spread out into a 2D grid. It’s only natural then to take the next step into the third dimension. Not simply a cube though…with the new year nearly upon us, and paying tribute to Adafruit’s NYC home, why not a shimmery Times Square-style “disco ball?” This would showcase the WS2801 Pixels’ greatest feature: unconstrained by flat planes or fixed grids, they can be spread out into any shape. Anything you can punch 11.5mm holes through, you can festoon with LEDs, whether it’s your backpack or the body panels of a Burning Man art car!
(Ours won’t be anywhere near this big.)
The Times Square ball drop always seemed a bit odd to me. New Year’s Eve? Ball drop? Buh…what? It was an excuse to stay up late, partying and making noise, and I never gave it much thought. Years later I learned the ball drop actually has a fascinating precedent, tracing its roots to one of the most pivotal inventions of modern commerce…