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!

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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.

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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.

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

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Some LED tests.

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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!

Happy holidays! (Christmas project 2015)

Last year’s Christmas holiday project was the “Make A Wish” fountain show. My original plans for this year was to follow it up with an updated set but I couldn’t find the time or motivation to do it. Instead, I decided to do something simpler.

20151222_190705_001Behold! A modern-style Christmas tree! It’s made out of foam-core board and has eight sides which are lit up by WS2812B addressable LEDs.20151222_190631With the room lights off, you can get a better sense of what I was going for. I am very happy with the way that it came together, considering how little time I gave myself. This was almost all done on a Sunday.20151221_193338It’s one of my larger projects, with the base being 50x66cm and the “tree” standing at 52cm. I’ll have to find somewhere to put it because I would love to work with it next year.20151222_190933_022One amusing observation which I hadn’t planned for was the fantastic pattern the project projects onto the ceiling.

Thanks for visiting my blog! I hope to find some time to write up a year-in-review-style post as I did last year. Stay tuned!

Investing in the lights

A few days later after ordering a few things off of eBay, there’s now more to come. I did a little experimenting on the fountains yesterday and, well, I broke things.

IMG_0001One of the things I’m changing with the fountains is the power supply. I’m upping it to a 9v power supply. To make it easier to move around the project or to swap the power supply again, I’m using these 9v clip connectors. IMG_0003I started taking apart the fountains to set up my experiment. I will move the current-limiting resistors for the fountain LEDs from the mini-breadboard to a soldered perfboard. I’m also planning on soldering the shift register boards directly to the perfboard since these LEDs will be running off of shift registers the next time you see them. I still need to draw up a plan to confirm the number of pins I need and things like that.

IMG_0001Anyways, on to that experiment! There were a few of things I wanted to test. I had some ideas on new nozzle designs, as well as “piping” designs where the pump would be placed away from the actual nozzle outlet. The last thing was to see if the 9v power supply would play nice with my current setup.

The picture above is of a new nozzle design that takes cues from the experiment I did with the last light show. The opening is slightly larger this time and the flow is pretty decent. The flow gets a little rough as the height is increased or if the water is aimed directly straight up. Those are the limits to using the cheap materials and pumps I’m using. The easy work around is to not aim it directly up, which looks good enough for me.IMG_0002About the “piping” design… I was thinking about trying to isolate the pumps from the turbulent water caused from the water falling pretty much directly onto the water going into the pump, which does cause the pumps to fail at times. I started playing around with the straws I have and I think this is something I’ll be trying out the next time. Of course, the picture above is literally just playing around with water. You’re not going to see random straws sticking up from the pool in the show. 😛IMG_0003This was the aftermath of those piping experiments. I’m pretty satisfied with my short experiments. To sum up, the pumps will be at the back of the pool and the nozzles positioned away from the pumps using the straws. They’ll sport that new nozzle design (though I’m still working on being able to reproduce them consistently). Now about that 9v power supply…IMG_0004It seems as though I’ve burned out three of the 5 transistor circuits. I used 2N4401 transistors because I already had them when I was building the circuit for the fountains. I’ll be moving to mosfets as I’ve always wanted to.

Those mosfets have been ordered on eBay. I also ordered some more of these 5x7cm perfboards, and five more water pumps. I’m not so sure we’ll see all 10 water fountains in the next show (but anything is possible, right?). I mostly ordered them as spares.

So that’s it for now. The project is again on the backburner as I wait for things to come in. Thanks for reading!

Debut [of sorts]: “How we do it”

The light show that never was… Enjoy these 15 seconds!

Another scrapped #arduino light show…

A post shared by Matt (@mwhprojects) on

The challenge of this one was to see what I could come up with using my updated shift register boards (which are available  on Tindie!). In the previous light shows that used my older shift register boards, I couldn’t use any PWM because those boards didn’t have the Output Enable pin broken out to use. My new ones do so I really want to see what I could do with them. Each color has its own shift register board, with an extra shift register board dedicated to all colors of the LEDs attached to the servos. I like some of the effects I made up and I hope to continue working on it so I can come up with something better with another song in the future. It’s “How We Do It” by Lights, by the way.

Thanks for visiting the blog!

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!

Arduino Light Show #7 Debut: “Make A Wish”

My PHP script on the Light Show website ended up releasing the shows a day early so I figured why not… I’m proud to present the newest version of the Arduino Light Show Project with this holiday special! Enjoy!

A detailed build overview is coming up soon. Stay tuned!

 

Light Show 7 Journal Entry #10: Reflection

I’m currently working on a couple of year-end posts that will be published after the new Light Show debuts. The posts contain a lot of reflection on what has gone on in the past year, and one of those things is how much the Light Show project has grown. I thought it would be interesting to pull out the holiday Light Shows I did last year so that the growth of the show will be more obvious when the new one is released in the coming days (December 23rd!).

I remember being so exhausted from trying to find a song and programming to it that I rushed through and ended up with that… and then I ended up using a certain other song:

I’m always anxious to hear the feedback once a show is released. I’ve been surprised in the past, both pleasantly and unfortunately, with certain show releases. I hope the new show will fall under pleasant.

Come back to watch the new Light Show on December 23rd!