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 3: Jumped the shark?

After just two videos, and neither of them programmed to songs, I’m calling the light show project done. Forever. Or at least for now.

The build was everything I expected it to be, and yet it still felt incomplete. That’s the way I feel about all of my projects, though. There was more than enough to work with, even with this feeling, and that contributed to the early end of this project. Having servos in the light shows make them unique to just LEDs laid out on a breadboard like my first experiments with Arduino. However, it also complicates things because I had to figure out ways to have the LEDs and servos do things simultaneously. It becomes a lot to take on when it takes hours to produce a few seconds of a show.

The next reason I’m closing up this project now is so that I can focus on other projects. This project is sort of the “fun” project, but lately I’ve been trying to find more practical projects like the temperature and humidity monitor and the light timer. In the end, the goal is to have an end product that I can show off, possibly to future employers.

There may be a future for the light show project down the line, but it’s not in my sights at this point. On a somewhat related note, I did do one experiment while I was working on this project.

IMG_20140128_124709I’ve always thought of using my Nexus 7 tablet as a screen. I think it would take most of the focus off of the LEDs to give me an easier time programming. However, it complicates things because I’d be more comfortable having original content on the screen which I’m not capable of doing.

The grand vision in the first place, at the very beginning of these light shows, was fountains. The inspiration for these light shows originated from World of Color at Disney California Adventure so it’s not surprising that replicating the show to some extent would be the goal. I’m not quite ready to work with water yet, though.

So that’s it for this one. Another project is already queued up and I’ll have details on that soon. Thanks for reading!

Halloween project brainstorming

I’ve gone through several options in my head for a Halloween project and I think it would be nice to lay them out. It will just be a refreshed light show in a different form. I kind of want to make it generic so I can adjust it for Christmas and unthemed shows.

The first plan is to make a circular stage. I have three servos that can act as spotlights again, as well as a continuous rotation motor. I was thinking of having the continuous servo spin the entire thing with one or two rings of LEDs and the three spotlights shining off the top. I think this one is the most challenging option since I have no budget for this project (as in $0) so getting materials to make it round and reinforced for movement will be hard. Also, the fact that it’s spinning means programming will be a tedious process since I’d have to find a way to make the port open enough so I can unplug it without ripping the entire thing apart.

The second plan has some inspiration from Six Flags Great America’s Ignite show stage. It’s basically an all white stage with no curves, just sharp corners. I didn’t care much for the show but the projections were pretty neat. Again, materials would be an issue since there will be a lot of cuts to make.

The last plan is a simplified version of the second idea. It would basically be a three panel “stage” that would have LED borders and some ambient light for each panel. The kicker for this one is that the three spotlights would be attached to a pole and would rise up from behind the panels, kind of like the orbs that rise out of the water for World of Color at Disney California Adventure. I just want to use all four motors I have, including the continuous rotation servo…

With the way things are going, I’m a little worried I’m going to have nothing ready for Halloween. Oh well, there’s always Christmas.

Night lights, with Frank.

What kind of light show sits in darkness waiting for showtime? I’ve got this simple ambient sequence where all of the lights are on while the RGB LEDs cycle through some colors. Here’s a video if it, with Frank standing guard. Perhaps if I ever find a song with a dramatic start (like the intro to World of Color), it could start with this and then proceed with the show. For now, try not to fall asleep.