Projects under lockdown I

Like many others, I guess, I haven’t felt too motivated to take photographs during the Coronavirus lockdown. To stave off boredom, however, I have been looking at a pile of “to-do” projects that I’ve stacked up over the last couple of years. I’m pleased to say that I’ve now completed a couple of them.

My first project was a home-brew “pixelstick”. The commercial version has something like 200 LEDs and is about 1.8m long and costs more than I was willing to pay at a few hundred pounds. My version is 1m long with 144 LEDs and uses a web app to control from a browser on a phone or regular computer.

The hardware design is pretty simple – basically an ESP8266 (actually a Wemos D1 Mini board) driving a string of WS2812B LEDs with a single user switch to be able to switch the display on and off without having to use the web app. The app provides the ability to select either:

  • Static patterns of one to five colours (either solid bands of colour or gradients between the colours)
  • Preset animations
  • Bitmaps

and then select display parameters such as refresh rate, animation speed and colour palettes. Bitmaps are displayed one column at a time at the selected refresh rate and can be displayed just once or cycled repeatedly.

Here are a few example images – nothing mind-blowing, just a quick demo of the kind of thing you can do (these are all displayed at 20ms refresh rate):

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