Josh Worth made this incredible map of the solar system- see if you can make it all the way through!
I was talking about the planets with my 5-year-old daughter the other day. I was trying to explain how taking a summer vacation to Mars in the future will be a much bigger undertaking than a trip to Palm Springs (though equally as hot). I kept trying to describe the distance using metaphors like “if the earth was the size of a golf ball, then Mars would be across the soccer field” etc., but I realized I didn’t really know much about these distances, besides the fact that they were really large and hard to understand. Pictures in books, planetarium models, even telescopes are pretty misleading when it comes to judging just how big the universe can be. Are we doing ourselves a disservice by ignoring all the emptiness?
Not that pixels are any better at representing scale than golfballs, but they’re our main way of interpreting most information these days, so why not the solar system?
Try it out here!
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.
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…
A quiet holiday provided some much-needed time for making progress on the New Year’s disco ball — officially now titled the “X2 Time Ball.”
Set your calculator to “maths”…
“Simplify, simplify, simplify.” — Thoreau
“One ‘simplify’ would have sufficed.” — Emerson
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…