Let’s get going on Light Show 7!

In this post, I want to lay out the plan for Light Show 7.

I still don’t have a drawn sketch of the plan but I have a pretty good idea of what I want in my head. The backdrop and the fountains will not be attached together which allows me to build both separately and place them together when I’m ready to program. My goal is to finish building it in 2 weeks, which leaves one week to program if I want to make it for the end of November. (The first, and possibly only, show will be the Christmas/holiday show.) I’ve been procrastinating getting started so I finally pushed myself to start working on it today.

IMG_0348As I talked about a while ago in an experiment, the backdrop will be made up of towers lit up by “floodlights”, or RGB LEDs. There will be 7 of these towers and the dimensions of each tower is 1″ x 1″ x 10.5″. I scored lines on the back of the cardboard so that the cardboard would be influenced to bend in a straight line when I folded it into a rectangular tower.IMG_0349In the previous experiment, I scored the front of the tower which made clean sharp corners, but I think the smoother corners from bending it this way might look better. I’m still thinking of something to top each tower with, if anything. They won’t be standing this close to each other when the stage is put together, it was just for the sake of taking the picture on my desk. The plan is to place them all on a base which will also have the RGB LEDs for each tower planted on so that it all stays together. This is the part where I need to draw out a complete plan.

I won’t be posting everything I’m doing for the new show because I want it to be as surprising and exciting as it can be. I will do a photo tour of it after the show debuts as I’ve done with previous shows. You can probably guess what will be included anyway when I say that this show is pretty much a combination of all of the Light Shows I’ve done thus far. Stay tuned! I don’t plan on leaving you completely in the dark!

The towers have returned

In version 3 of the Arduino Light Show Project, I constructed a backdrop with some cardboard and tissue paper. I made towers out of the cardboard but kept one side open and used tissue paper to diffuse light from an RGB LED inside of each tower. I hadn’t started using version numbers for the light show then so my working title for that version was “Towers Light Show” which was reflected in the names for related files (pictures and code). The towers backdrop idea will return for the next light show but in a much more simple form.

In my previous post regarding the new light show, I talked about how the planning for the backdrop was going and ended that post with a bit of a teaser. I guess it’s a bit misleading since I don’t think I’m going to end up using that prop in the show or even in an experiment right now. The idea was a plain flat backdrop with protruding shapes with LED backlights so that the shapes would have kind of a glow. I decided not to bother with the idea right now since I came up with something a little easier for me to construct.

rgbtowersThis is the result of my light test. The tower is about 17cm or 6.7″ tall. I do expect them to be taller in the final build. Moving the LED a distance from the tower allows it the light to cover all of the tower face which was an issue with the first backdrop test. I couldn’t do the same thing with that backdrop because the light from the LEDs would be interfering/mixing with each other. With 7 separate towers, I can space them out so that there wouldn’t be much light mixing together on the towers, or at least that’s the theory.

I’m set on this plan because I have the materials for it (at least, after I order some more RGB LEDs). I have a few other tricks up my sleeve but they shouldn’t be too complicated (they’re things taken from previous version of the light show). Pretty much the last thing I need to figure out is if and where I should use my shift register boards. I think the Mega should have enough pins, but I haven’t checked. I’ll get on that so I can draw out a master plan on paper.

I hope to get started on the build very soon. BTW, this will be Light Show 7! Stay tuned for updates!

Backdrop Test, Take 1

I’ve been planning out the stage for the fountain show. I hope to have something ready by December so I can do both a music compilation show as well as a holiday special for the end of the year. Some minor alterations will happen between those two shows. Since I tend to lose interest after the first show, I want to put together a really good stage since I only expect to get one or two shows out of it.

I did some testing on one idea I had for the backdrop of the show. You should expect to see something like the first fountain show but with a backdrop and additional effects.IMG_20141007_113542When I did a quick project using my AMS1117 board, one of the wires broke so I decided to fix it up. I used the voltage regulator board for this experiment. I had to remove the headers soldered on and replace them with wires going directly to the battery holder. I put some shrink tube on the exposed connections since they’d be touching without it. It’s nice to see that it still works even though I had my soldering iron on the board for a long while trying to get the headers off.

IMG_20141007_140609Anyways, this is a prototype section of an idea I had for the backdrop. It’s kind of like an “accordion” shape made out of cardboard that has one white side that’s perfect to light up with LEDs. The main purposes of this test was to see how the backdrop would look, and to decide if I should use clear lens or diffused RGB LEDs.

The issue I have with this backdrop is that it seems like I’d be forced to pair LEDs with another on the top since the light from the LEDs don’t go that far up the backdrop. The thing is, I was planning to make the backdrop even taller since it would be a bit short to go with the fountains. There may end up being a dark zone in the middle of the backdrop if it’s too tall.

IMG_20141007_140446Now regarding the RGB LED type, I’m set on using diffused LEDs for the backdrop which is pictured in this image. The clear lens type works well with the fountains since the water acts as the diffuser, and these LEDs also serve well as spotlights (even though the light from each color don’t point at the same place). Since they make for great spotlights, they tend to make shapes in the light which is not ideal for the backdrop. I could put something over them to diffuse the light but I might as well just use the diffused LEDs. I’ll have to order more, though I need to finalize the backdrop. I have a couple more ideas for a backdrop so I hope to have some more prototypes to share soon to help me make up my mind.

Stay tuned…