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!

What’s going on?

Things have been fairly quiet in my “workshop”. There’s some things slowly going, but mostly I’m just sitting around waiting. Here’s what’s going on.


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My favorite website project has come online again! Check out Canada’s Wonderland Facts!

The website was last online in 2012. Since then, PHP and MySQL has changed so I spent a full day updating the code. Now, I’m just sort of catching up by updating and adding more content. There are still some functionality changes that I want to make eventually. I’ll probably get more motivation to do it as we move into the Wonderland season, which just began yesterday. I’m considering getting a domain name but I don’t want to buy one if I’m just going to give up on the website like I’ve done in the past. We’ll see how things roll.


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I’ve got new PCBs being manufactured right now! I’ve gone back to basics with the ATmega328p Breakout Board with nothing but the breakout pins and only using through-hole components. I think these changes will make most makers more interested in it because it’ll be easier to assemble since the original had surface-mount components, and more components in total compared to this upcoming one.

I also put in another design to get manufactured that’s mostly for my own use. There’s some breakouts for 0805 and SOT-223 surface-mount components. I also finished a new voltage regulator design that uses the NCP1117 low-dropout regulator. I had ordered a small set of components for that board in my last Digikey order. I also have some AMS1117 regulators in hand, which is the reason for those 0805 and SOT-223 breakouts. I’m not quite sure if I will put those regulator boards up for sale but I like to use them in my own projects with 9v batteries.


None of my eBay orders have arrived just yet. To recap, some of the items coming in are for an update to the Light Show Project. I’m especially excited to try using WS2812 RGB LEDs for the first time. I can’t wait!


So that’s it for now. Thanks a lot for visiting! Good luck in all of your experiments and projects!

 

 

 

 

Let’s talk effects

The Light Show Project is an ongoing experiment. We’ve seen it built up to include elements like RGB LEDs (from the first shows with single colored LEDs), servo motors, and water pumps/fountains. I like to try adding something new with every show so that’s something fresh to play around with to make each show a little more unique to each other.

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In the next show, I’d like try incorporating a continuous servo motor somewhere. One of my ideas was to try and create an effect like scrolling stars or dots that would shine on the backdrop towers of the light show. The experiment with a rolled piece of cardboard with holes punched in it didn’t work very well. I was hoping the light from the LED would be brighter since I was using a resistor that would get the rated 20mA through the LED. I also think that the scale is too small to be able to produce any decent effect on the full width of the backdrop. If anything, I wouldn’t use the motor for this and just have a line of cardboard with poked holes and several white LEDs behind it.

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Then I started experimenting with this foil tape that’s used to seal air ducts. I covered the same rolled piece of cardboard. It created a sort of water reflection on surfaces but it’s very subtle. I think the foil tape can be used in other applications, like covers over some of the LEDs to make a more focused beam of light. The foil is conductive so it will need some insulation of the LED leads are inside of that. That’s for another experiment.

I want the starlight effect because I’d like to go back to mixing several songs within one show so we can have an array of song genres in one video, from fun pop party song to a gentle slow song, which is where the stars effect would come in. I’m still thinking of how to go about it. Stay tuned!

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!

Moving on

It’s kind of depressing when you think about it, but my ESP8266 project is held up by two little switches I need that are somewhere in the mail. It’s going to sit off to the side until those switches come, so I thought I’d shift gears and give you a quick preview of what’s coming up.

RF Transmitter and Receiver

IMG_0001I’ve never been much of a communications guy. Protocols and accommodating for noise and interference and all that has always been confusing/boring to me, but I seem to be tip-toeing toward it these days. I received two RF transmitter and receiver pairs in the mail today. I didn’t have a project idea in mind when I ordered them, but they’re so cheap that I figured it would be would be nice to have lying around if I did come up with something one day. I’m still drawing up a plan, though I think it’s only natural that I try to use that temperature sensor that was originally destined for the ESP8266 project. I haven’t done enough research to see what is and what is not doable with this pair so I can’t confirm anything just yet.

bbIn the ESP8266 project, I have three mini-breadboards that each have a main purpose on them: One for my AMS1117 power regulator, one with the sensors, and one with the ESP8266 module. I decided to try and combine two of them so I could free up one so I could use it to play with the RF pair. I managed to cram the AMS1117 and ESP8266 onto one mini-breadboard… As long as it still works, it’s fine. I hope that this project will be on a perfboard soon anyway.

74HC595 Shift Register Boards Rev B / Light Show 7

I hadn’t mentioned it before but I sent the next revision of my 74HC595 boards to get manufactured and they are on their way to me right now. I’m pretty excited to see how they turn out because they are my first manually routed board.

I’m also excited because it’s part of some upgrades I want done to the Light Show Project before I start programming a new show. These new shift register boards break out the Output Enable pin which allows for some PWM control. The backdrop will definitely have that, but I’m also considering having all LEDs in the project controlled by shift registers, including the fountain LEDs which have always been controlled directly from the Arduino. There are advantages and disadvantages to that but, either way, I plan on taking a close look at how everything is wired.

In addition to working on the wiring, I’m still looking for ways to make it even bigger. For every version of the show, I watch the show and pick out things that I want to focus on. What I realized with Light Show 7 is that it’s not designed very well to watch on a widescreen… We’ll see what comes of that.

 

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more!

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!