Please bear with me while I struggle to write proper English. Feel free to correct me!
I started this project just after the 'Let it glow' competition started. I wish I had made much more and finished what I wanted to make. But between school and work, I haven't had as much time left as I wished.
Nevertheless, I leave here a report of my experiments as an instructable, so anyone can try and make what I did.
This instructable is not meant to serve as a guide and teach how to make this contraption. It isn't a guide for the beginners in electronics. It is more like sharing one idea and objective that I wish to pursue.
If you are a beginner/complete ignorant in electronics and wish to make something like this, I'm sorry! But we can try always help you. See the last step.
We have already seen many ambient light projects. Most of them use RGB LEDs:
- To illuminate a room with one color, setting an atmosphere to match your mood
- To create light effects from colour of TV/Monitor or from audio.
There are even a few in instructables.com
DIY Ambient Light Systems
Light Bar Ambient Lighting
Building your own ambient color lighting bars
Using this competition as an excuse, I started a project that has been on my mind for a while.
I've always wanted make something similar to these ambient lights and fill the walls in my room with RGB LEDs. But, taking it a step further, making all and each one of them controllable. This project will hopefully result on an open-source electronics kit for hobbyists and electronic tinkerers, allowing hardware/software hacking and sensory integration.
Here is a small preview of what I made:
Step 1: Exploring the idea
I am going to use a microcontroller for the ease of use and flexibility provided. Unfortunately I can't control hundreds of LEDs with the few pins available on microcontrollers. It would even be difficult to code the control of so many LEDs.
So I decided that I should divide all the LEDs in several smaller bars and for each bar I could use a microcontroller. Then I would use the communication capabilities of microcontrollers to share information between them. This information could be the colour and brightness of LEDs, patterns/sequences of colours and sensory information.
For each bar I decided to use 16 RGB LEDs. This results in a neither too big nor small bar. This way I use an acceptable number of resources for each led, reducing the costs for each bar.
Nevertheless, 16 RGB LEDs are 48 LEDs (3*16=48) for the microcontroller to control.
With costs in mind, I decided to use the cheapest microcontroller I could use. This means that the microcontroller will only have up to 20 I/O pins, not enough for 48 LEDs.
I do not wish to use charlieplexing or some kind of time splitting drive, since the goal of the project is illuminating a room.
The only alternative I could think of is using some kind of latched shift register!
- Make and interactive ambient light
- Make a standard bar of controllable LEDs
- Possibility of connecting several bars to fill a room
- Allow user adaptation/configuration and sensory integration