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Archive for the ‘LED’ Category

[Paul] created a frame that uses an Arduino and LEDs to create a slow motion illusion of a delicate item (like a flower or a feather). The effect is striking as you can see in the video below.

[Paul] had seen similar projects (both one-offs and sold as a product), but wanted to do his own take on it. The principle is simple: The device vibrates the objects at one frequency and strobes LEDs at a slightly different frequency (80 and 79.5 Hz, in this case). The difference between the frequencies (the beat frequency) is what your eye perceives as a very slow (0.5 Hz, here) motion.

Once you know the secret behind the device, it is not very complicated to create. The woodworking for the frame is the bulk of the work. An Arduino excites an electromagnet to vibrate the subject items. It also pulses the LED strips to achieve the strobe effect. It’s simple, striking, and a show piece. It seems like everyone has been building their own magic mirror project, but we proffer this awesome concept as the next big thing everyone should try on their own workbench. Let’s check out a few other examples to get you thinking.

One of [Paul’s] inspirations was Time Frame, which appears in the second video, below. You can find its code on GitHub. It also uses an Arduino to create the same effect. The other inspiration was Slow Dance, which we covered earlier. We’ve also seen a similar trick played with water droplets.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, led hacks

The renaissance of Nixie tube popularity amid the nostalgia surrounding older tech has made them almost prohibitively expensive for individual projects. Seeing an opportunity to modernize the beloved devices, [Connor Nishijima] has unleashed this new, LED edge-lit display that he has dubbed Lixie.

We featured his prototype a few years ago. That design used dots to make up each character but this upgrade smooths that out with sleek lines and a look one would almost expect from a professional device — or at the very least something you’d see in a cyberpunk near-future. The color-changing Neopixel LEDs — moderated by a cleverly designed filter — allow for customization to your heart’s content, and the laser-cut acrylic panes allow for larger displays to be produced with relative ease.

The image above (and the video below) show two revisions of the most recent Lixie prototypes. There is a huge improvement on the right, as the digits are now outlines instead of single strokes and engraved instead of cut completely through the acrylic. The difference if phenomenal, and in our opinion move the “back to the drawing board” effect to “ready for primetime”. [Connor] and his team are working on just that, with a Tindie preorder in place for the first production-ready digits to roll off their line.

Considering that Nixie Tubes were originally considered too expensive for mass-produced items like clocks, it’s ironic they’re seeing a revival in hobbyist projects for just that purpose. Lixie, then, may fit the purpose for those seeing a cheaper solution without sacrificing on the quality of the result. The design is fully open-source, so get to hacking!

For a suitably cyberpunk application of a Nixie tube, check out this motorcycle speedometer. Oh, and lest you think we’re duplicating ourselves, there was another edge-lit Nixie-alike project featured here just a few weeks ago. Seems good ideas come in waves.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, led hacks

There’s no shortage of Arduino-based clocks around. [Mr_fid’s] clock, though, gets a second look because it is very unique looking. Then it gets a third look because it would be very difficult to read for the uninitiated.

The clock uses three Xs made of LEDs. There is one X for the hours (this is a 24-hour clock), another for the minutes, and one for the seconds. The left side of each X represents the tens’ digit of the number, while the right-side is the units.

But wait… even with two segments on each side of the X, that only allows for numbers from 0 to 3 in binary, right? [Mr_fid] uses another dimension–color–to get around that limitation. Although he calls this a binary clock, it is more accurately a binary-coded-decimal (BCD) clock. Red LEDs represent the numbers one to three. Green LEDs are four to six. Two blue segments represent seven to nine. It sounds complicated, but if you watch the video, below, it will make sense.

This isn’t [Mr_fid’s] first clock. He is using a DS1307 real time clock module to make up for the Arduino’s tendency to drift. Even if you aren’t interested in the clock, the mounting of the LEDs with plastic–and the issues he had isolating them from each other–might come in handy in other displays.

We’ve seen a lot of Arduino clocks over the years, including some that talk. We’ve even seen some that qualify as interactive furniture, whatever that is.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, clock hacks

Scrolling LED signs were pretty keen back in the day, and now they’re pretty easy to come by on the cheap. Getting a signboard configured for IoT duty can be tricky, but as [kripthor] shows us, it’s not that bad as long as security isn’t your top concern and you can tweak a serial interface.

dec-16-2016-10-57-pm-edited[kripthor] chanced upon an Amplus AM03127 signboard that hails from the days when tri-color LEDs were the big thing. The unit came with a defunct remote thanks to leaking batteries, but a built-in serial interface offered a way to connect. Unfortunately, the RS-232 standard on the signboard wants both positive and negative voltages with respect to ground to represent the 1s and 0s, and that wouldn’t work with the ESP8266 [kripthor] was targeting. The ubiquitous MAX-232 transceiver was enlisted to convert logic levels to RS-232 signals and a small buck converter was added to power the ESP. A little scripting and the signboard is online and ready for use and abuse by the interwebz — [kripthor] says he’ll regret this, but we’re pleased with the way the first remote access turned out. Feel free to check out the live video feed and see what the current message is.

Personally, we don’t have much use for a signboard, but getting RS-232 devices working in the Arduino ecosystem is definitely a trick we’ll keep in mind. If asynchronous serial protocols aren’t your strong suit, you might want to check out this guide to what can go wrong by our own [Elliot Williams].


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, classic hacks

The WS2812 is an amazing piece of technology. 30 years ago, high brightness LEDs didn’t even exist yet. Now, you can score RGB LEDs that even take all the hard work out of controlling and addressing them! But as ever, we can do better.

Riffing on the ever popular Adafruit NeoPixel library, [Harm] created the WS2812FX library. The library has a whole laundry list of effects to run on your blinkenlights – from the exciting Hyper Sparkle to the calming Breathe inspired by Apple devices. The fantastic thing about this library is that it can greatly shorten development time of your garden-variety blinkables – hook up your WS2812s, pick your effect, and you’re done.

[Harm]’s gone and done the hard yards, porting this to a bevy of platforms – testing it on the Arduino Nano, Uno, Micro and ESP8266. As a proof of concept, they’ve also put together a great demonstration of the software – building some cute and stylish Christmas decorations from wood, aluminium, and hacked up Christmas light housings. Combining it with an ESP8266 & an app, the effects can be controlled from a smartphone over WiFi. The assembly video on YouTube shows the build process, using screws and nails to create an attractive frame using aluminium sheet.

This project is a great example of how libraries and modern hardware allow us to stand on the shoulders of giants. It’s quicker than ever to build amazingly capable projects with more LEDs than ever. Over the years we’ve seen plenty great WS2812 projects, like this sunrise alarm clock or this portable rave staff.
As always, blink hard, or go home. Video after the break.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, Holiday Hacks, led hacks

A proper battlestation — or more colloquially, computer desk — setup can sometimes use a bit of technical flair to show off your skills. [fightforlife2] has shared their DIY ambilight monitor backlighting that flows through different colours which mimic what is displayed on the screen.

[fightforlife2]’s setup uses fifty RGB LEDs with individual controllers that support the FastLED library, regulated by an Arduino Nano clone — although any will suffice. The power requirement for the display was a bit trickier, ultimately requiring 3 amperes at 5V; an external power brick can do the trick, but [fightforlife2] also suggests the cavalier solution of using your computer power supply’s 5V line — adding the convenience of shutting off the ambilight display when you shut down your PC!

Ambilight Frame Setup

Connecting the LEDs to the Arduino is simply done, followed by adding the FastLED library and installing and configuring AmbiBox on your PC. For gaming, the software only works with borderless windows for games, but that puts a 5-10% tax on your processor. Be forewarned! — the ambilighing can be distracting when gaming for the first week or so.

If you want to carry this cool idea over into your other pursuits, you can — for example — set up a similar display around your piano.

[via /r/DIY]


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, home entertainment hacks, led hacks

With All Hallow’s Eve looming close, makers have the potential to create some amazing costumes we’ll remember for the rest of the year. If you’re a fan of the hugely addict-*cough* popular game Minecraft, perhaps you’ve considered cosplaying as your favorite character skin, but lacked the appropriate props. [Graham Kitteridge] and his friends have decided to pay homage to the game by making their own light-up Minecraft swords.

These swords use 3D-printed and laser-cut parts, designed so as to hide the electronics for the lights and range finder in the hilt. Range finder? Oh, yes, the sword uses an Arduino Uno-based board to support NewPixels LEDs and a 433Mhz radio transmitter and receiver for ranged detection of other nearby swords that — when they are detected — will trigger the sword to glow. Kind of like the sword Sting, but for friendlies.

Fellowship of Minecraft Sword

All of the files for the parts are available on the project’s Thingverse page and the board setup can be purchased here. If you want to have some fun controlling the real world from inside Minecraft, check out how this fan uses it to turn on lamps in their home.


Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, Arduino Hacks, weapons hacks

Well all know cellular automata from Conway’s Game of Life which simulates cellular evolution using rules based on the state of all eight adjacent cells. [Gavin] has been having fun playing with elementary cellular automata in his spare time. Unlike Conway’s Game, elementary automata uses just the left and right neighbors of a cell to determine the next cell ahead in the row. Despite this comparative simplicity, some really complex patterns emerge, including a Turing-complete one.

[Gavin] started off doing the calculations by hand for fun. He made some nice worksheets for this. As we can easily imagine, doing the calculations by hand got boring fast. It wasn’t long before his thoughts turned to automating his cellular automata. So, he put together an automatic cellular automator. (We admit, we are having a bit of fun with this.)

This could have been a quick software project but half the fun is seeing the simulations on a purpose-built ecosystem. The files to build the device are hosted on Thingiverse. Like other cellular automata projects, it uses LED matrices to display the data. An Arduino acts as the brain and some really cool retro switches from the world’s most ridiculously organized electronics collection finish the look of the project.

To use, enter the starting condition with the switches at the bottom. The code on the Arduino then computes and displays the pattern on the matrix. Pretty cool and way faster than doing it by hand.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, misc hacks

Even three decades after the Chernobyl disaster and five years after the incident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, each of the surrounding communities are still impacted by dangerous radiation levels. However, since the source of the problem is invisible, the relative risks remain difficult to communicate. As a result, the motivation and urgency to help those affected continue to diminish.

In order to visualize the threat, photographer Greg McNevin has mapped real-time measurements using long-exposure photographs of areas in Fukushima and Russia’s Bryansk region. To do this, McNevin and his team combined a custom Geiger counter with an LED stick and an Arduino-based controller. The detection device picks up radiation levels as it is moved around and outputs this data as an analog signal, which is then converted into white, orange or red lights — based on the severity of the reading.

Walking through a photo with shutter open anywhere from 20 seconds to five minutes allows us to create dynamic walls of undulating light, highlighting contamination in the environments it exists.

White shows levels under 0.23uSv per hour (1mSv per year), which is the Japanese government’s guideline for decontamination (which assumes people spend 8 hours a day outside and 16 hours inside). Russia’s official “norm” level is roughly the same, 0.20uSv/h.

Orange shows contamination levels elevated above this, up to 1.0uSv per hour (roughly 5mSv per year) – a range where protective measures to minimise radiation exposure should be considered. Protective measures can include resettlement, decontamination, special health services, food controls, etc. Russian communities are obligated to be resettled above this level.

Red shows radioactivity greater than 1.0uSv per hour (upwards of 5mSv per year) – a level where protective measures to minimise radiation exposure are necessary.

Using this tool in areas affected by Chernobyl and Fukushima, we found that places decontaminated by the authorities consistently exhibit radiation levels elevated above official guidelines. We also found that using the same scale, places in Russia’s Bryansk region demonstrated comparable levels of contamination now, 30 years later, as places in Fukushima do today.

As the photographer explains, this project is not a critique of the government’s decontamination efforts, but rather a demonstration of the long-term effects radioactivity has on the environments and those living within them. Be sure to check out all of McNevin’s photos, as well as learn more about the project here.

(Photos: Greg McNevin/Greenpeace)

Bicycle riders can never be too visible: the more visible you are, the less chance there is someone will hit you. That’s the idea behind the Arduibag, a neat open-source project from [Michaël D’Auria] and [Stéphane De Graeve]. The project combines a joystick that mounts on the handlebars with a dot matrix LED display in a backpack. By moving the joystick, the user can indicate things such as that they are turning, stopping, say thank you or show a hazard triangle to warn of an accident.

The whole project is built from simple components, such as an Adafruit LED matrix and a Bluno (an Arduino-compatible board with built-in Bluetooth 4.0) combined with a big battery that drives the LED matrix. This connects to the joystick, which is in a 3D printed case that clips onto the handlebars for easy use. It looks like a fairly simple build, with the larger components being mounted on a board that fits into the backpack and holds everything in place. You then add a clear plastic cover to part of the backpack over the LED matrix, and you are ready to hit the road, hopefully without actually hitting the road.

Like any good project, [Michaël] and [Stéphane] aren’t finished with it yet: they are also looking for ways to improve it. In particular, they want to reduce the number of batteries, as there is currently a large battery that drives the display and another smaller one that drives the Arduino.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, wearable hacks


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