A Dry Christmas (Light Show 8 Update)

In the first update for my next Arduino Light Show, I went through some of my experiments with my fountains. After some thought, I had planned on scaling it back but, in the end, I decided to scrap the fountains all together from the next light show. Despite the loss of the fountains, there are still new things to see!

img_20161019_181202

OK, so this is not really new. I made this weird Christmas tree last year. It was rather last minute so I didn’t do much with it. The plan now is to incorporate it into a new Light Show. Actually, it’s going to be the main feature.

I did a little bit of cleaning up. I cut the base into a circle and painted it black, trying hard to avoid painting over the LEDs.

img_20161021_194229

Here’s something new… well, again, sort of. I’ve done LED “spotlights” before by strapping 5mm LEDs to a servo motor. What’s new this time is that I’m using two servo motors per spotlight to make it pan and tilt. I’m also using WS2812B LED modules like on the tree. More movement and color should make the spotlights more interesting than before.

img_20161112_225030

After testing out the concept, I made an army of four.

img_20161119_204021

Some LED tests.

20161119_221619

I painted the spotlights all black as much as I could so that they’ll blend into the darkness.

So that’s the current state of the next Arduino Light Show. I had some other ideas in mind but I wanted to leave lots of time to get what I have here ready and programmed. We’ll see how the next little while goes. Thanks for reading!

A closer look at Light Show 7

IMG_0659It’s time to take a guided tour around the newest light show! In case you missed it, the newest show was released yesterday.

IMG_0634I kind of consider the new light show as the second generation of the first fountain show. However, there was so much more added that I couldn’t let it be an incremental update like version 5, 5.1 and 5.2. This was a great situation where I could sit back and watch the previous version and the current version back to back and see the improvements.

Something I wanted to focus on was to use the fountains better. With the backdrop and spotlights, it was a little easier, but looking back I found that there were too many dark moments in the first fountain show.

I tried to address the reliability issues from the previous version with a new nozzle design (even though it wasn’t perfect, at least I tried) and using wire to brace the nozzles to better hold its direction. It’s one challenge of the show that will continue until I come up with a better permanent solution.
IMG_0538The servo spotlights is something that I tried keeping a secret (I should stop doing that). I was a little too conservative with them, but the show still wouldn’t be the same without them. In the next show, I’d like to work on hiding the wiring and gearboxes of the servos.IMG_0664The backdrop performed well, though it still had the lighting issue I was afraid of. If there is more than one color on, the colors start washing out into white or an unwanted blended color. Still, some of the chasing effects look good.IMG_0406The light shows have never been overly complicated to wire since I used to give each LED its own pin on the Arduino Mega. In this version, I decided to use shift registers since I had made some shift register boards in my Eagle experiments and hadn’t used them yet. This actually made life easier because just a few wires have to run back to the microcontroller which is closer to the fountains. Without the shift registers, I’d be running a ton of wires back, and I barely had enough wire as it was. The only downside to shift registers is that programming takes a little more time to get right.

All in all, I’m happy with the results. I hope you enjoyed the show and I hope you’ll share it with others. Thanks for reading and happy holidays! Stay tuned for my last couple posts for the year!

Christmas Arduino light show coming tomorrow

As it looks right now, the Christmas Arduino light show will debut tomorrow.

It’s been a rough ride. Even though I really enjoyed how the stage came together, I found it to be a struggle to keep patterns fresh. That’s why the original 6 minute soundtrack got chopped multiple times down to a 2 minute mix of songs that should not be together. I gave up half way through the first song but I kept the first little bit of it because I didn’t want it to go to waste. It sets up a really weird tone to the show, but it is what it is. The reason the song selection is so strange is because traditional Christmas songs are just too gentle and I wanted strobes and racing LEDs and chaos. With the movement in what is the post-show, I still count it as part of the show so it’s still as long as the first generation light shows (the ones before the Halloween special). You’ll understand tomorrow…

I’m not sure where to go next with this project. I’m leaning toward destroying it and trying something different again, but I did that the last time and it took me months to get back to doing something with my LEDs… I’ll decided soon enough.

The extra feature I wanted to add was the illuminated words “Happy Holidays” above the stage which would get focus in the post-show. I scrapped that plan pretty quickly when I actually tried making it.

I hope you’ll take a couple minutes to enjoy the show tomorrow. Here are a few pictures from the final show:

IMG_20131122_170044 IMG_20131122_170103 IMG_20131122_170232