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Whilst hanging innumerable Christmas lights at my lady's house this weekend (and last) it occurred to me that there is nothing stopping us from creating wire strings that contain individually-addressable lights LEDs, with a wireless controller at the power plug. IPv6 makes a virtually unlimited number of addresses available, so it's quite feasible from an addressing standpoint. Think of the fun you could have writing programs to animate the yard display, without having the deal with a bunch of electromechanical relays and such that are traditionally employed by the lunatics who make an annoying, animated display of their yards every year. Not only would it save electricity, but it would also open up a whole new field of application programming for you all!
So, why isn't it already being done? What's holding us back?
Cool! But still a bit pricey for everyday use... It's also rather clunky, what with a full circuit board and IC controller for each LED. I very much like the fact that the color is programmable, though. What I had in mind was a bit more mundane - a bundle of AWG28 or smaller wires, each terminating at a LED and connected to a common ground wire, with each driven by an addressable demultiplexer chip in the power block. Each strand would have its own dedicated network IP address and wireless interface, and the individual LEDs would respond to a subaddress in the network.
Very trivially - by running conductors from a control assembly to the LEDs. It wouldn't take a large wire, and a bundle of very tiny wires would handle a large number of LEDs per string. Address decoding would be handled in a controller located at the ac mains connection. The demultiplexing could be 1-of-n or possibly m-of-n for more simultaneous activations, all of which can be done very easily.
At this point it sounds like you've changed your design from one microcontroller per bulb to putting each bulb on a separate power loop. Replacing a 2/3 strand cable with an N strand (N= bulb count) will result in an unwieldy cable and just shift where the excess cost is.
Did you ever see history portrayed as an old man with a wise brow and pulseless heart, waging all things in the balance of reason?
Is not rather the genius of history like an eternal, imploring maiden, full of fire, with a burning heart and flaming soul, humanly warm and humanly beautiful?
Training a telescope on one’s own belly button will only reveal lint. You like that? You go right on staring at it. I prefer looking at galaxies.
-- Sarah Hoyt
I did find a lot of information on doing that with Arduino. There are some lights that have the 1-wire-per-LED feature, and just connecting one or more of those to an Arduino board would work quite nicely.
Sorta Off Topic, but my favorite website for electronic stuff has to be All Electronics[^]
Yup, it's a cool site! I think something along the lines of an Arduino would work nicely, using it to address a demultiplexer, or even a crosspoint switch configuration to pulse individual LEDs. I don't know what currents modern LEDs require, but even at the 20 mA level the originals consumed, each LED would be adequately served by a #28 to #32 conductor, and 50 of these would bundle into a very convenient cable size for stringing in trees.
Roger, I looked into this a while back as a project for my Arduino. It's basically cost that stopped me. I wanted to create programmable/controllable LED lightboxes (1000+ leds) for video and stage lighting in which each LED could be color programmed.
My own lack of capital prevented me, maybe kickstarter?
That would be ambitious, certainly. But costs are going down, and it's only a matter of time before your idea will be affordable, I think. Some of the color-programmable solutions mentioned in this thread take the approach of allowing 8-bit color values to each LED, with each having its own controller chip. Another approach is to use a group of 3 LEDs - R-G-B - and apply varying pulse widths to each in order to create different colors. Persistence in human optical perception makes a number of shortcuts possible.
Start out small - maybe a couple hundred cells - and build your idea from there. My first digital alarm clock was built from TTL flip-flops and discrete LEDs because I couldn't afford fancy clock ICs that cost an arm and a leg. In the end, mine turned out to be much cooler, because the display was straight binary, not the mundane, boring decimal digits everyone has now. Heck, I think mine was even more effective, simply because it took mental effort just to decode what time it was when the thing fired off in the morning.
I thought of this a couple of xmases ago - but don't have the skillz required
I wanted to have the individually addressable lights connected up - you then throw them over trees or your house or whatever. then, using a usb camera pointed at the whole set up, software switches each light on and off individually so it knows where each light is as a 2d map from that viewpoint. (you could repeat from several viewpoints I guess).
so then you could program pictures, messages, patterns etc. to display across the whole area, without ever having to worry about positioning individual lights in the 'right' place.
So, as we all know, the nurse who was involved in the Duchess of Cambridge prank call died last week. And now there's a witch hunt in place from the UK press for the 2 DJs who played the prank. I've listened to the call, and it wasn't a bad one - certainly nothing that should have caused the kerfuffle that it did.
So, I want to say publicly that the DJs have my support. They do not deserve the ordeal that they are being put through.
*pre-emptive celebratory nipple tassle jiggle* - Sean Ewington
i found their interview less than convincing - their responses practiced and manufactured (and personally i think they lacked authentic personality). Clearly these two have been busy this weekend.
On the other hand we have the fallout from the levison inquiry - so theres a rampant amount of british press calling the kettle black at the moment.
and lets not forget - we all like a good old fashioned witch hunt whipped up by the tabloids.
we'll see what happens next i suppose.
To paraphrase Fred Dagg - the views expressed in this post are bloody good ones.