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Despite all the incredible advancements made in video game technology over the last few decades, the 8-bit classics never seem to go out of style. Even if you weren’t old enough to experience these games when they were new, it’s impossible not to be impressed by what the early video game pioneers were able to do with such meager hardware. They’re a reminder of what can be accomplished with dedication and technical mastery.

The grid has been split up for easier printing.

If you’d like to put a little retro inspiration on your desk, take a look at this fantastic 16 x 16 LED matrix put together by [Josh Gerdes]. While it’s obviously not the only thing you could use it for, the display certainly seems particularly adept at showing old school video game sprites in all their pixelated glory. There’s something about the internal 3D printed grid that gives the sprites a three dimensional look, while the diffused glow reminds us of nights spent hunched over a flickering CRT.

The best part might be how easy it is to put one of these together for yourself. You’ve probably got most of what you need in the parts bin; essentially it’s just a WS2812B strip long enough to liberate 256 LEDs from and a microcontroller to drive them. [Josh] used an Arduino Nano, but anything compatible with the FastLED library would be a drop-in replacement. You’ll also need a 3D printer to run off the grid, and something to put the whole thing into. The 12×12 shadowbox used here looks great, but we imagine clever folks such as yourselves could make do with whatever might be laying around if you can’t nip off to the arts and crafts store right now.

Beyond looking great, this project is a fantastic reminder of how incredibly handy WS2812 LEDs really are. Whether you’re recreating iconic game sprites or fashioning your own light-up sunglasses, it’s hard to imagine how we managed before these little wonders hit the scene.

After he’d just finished a project using RGB LEDs, Imgur user nolobot’s brother mentioned he needed a new computer desk. Most people would probably just let their brother buy one, others would make something out of wood, but nolobot instead decided to create something truly amazing using more than 1,200 WS2812 RGB LED modules, an Arduino Mega, aluminum extrusion, and translucent polycarbonate.

The Mega controls these LEDs with the FastLED library, which are sandwiched between a base piece of plywood and a strip of polycarbonate using custom spacers. This diffuses the light nicely, allowing for beautiful light animations directly on the desk’s surface.

You can find more on this awesome build on the project’s Imgur page!

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


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