About this project
Missed the Kickstarter Campaign?
Not to worry! The DigiPixel will still be available for sale. Just check out the official DigiPixel web page:
There has been some great feedback from backers coming in and as such the DigiPixel board has been upgraded!
Here's what the new design will look like:
Here's what's new:
- Direct access to all Arduino and Digispark pins (the ones used by the DigiPixel are marked with a rectangle around them).
- Direct access to the six game buttons - so you can connect up your own buttons / controller if you want.
- Dedicated battery connections with a surface mount on/off slide switch.
- Piezo buzzer connection which connects to pin 9 of the Arduino (sorry, there is no piezo connection for the Digispark). So now you can play sounds and music in your DigiPixel projects by using the Arduino tone function. (please note that the piezo buzzer is not included but only the connection for one).
- Each DigiPixel that you have purchased will also come with a spare set of six game buttons just in case you play it to much and wear out the original ones (there is no soldering required to change buttons).
And now back to the original Kickstarter campaign...
The DigiPixel is an open source Arduino and Digispark compatible shield with a 64 pixel RGB LED display and six buttons. The DigiPixel comes with it's own Arduino library, graphic converter and demo sketches (as seen in the video) to help you get started with making your own DigiPixel creations.
'So what sort of things could I make with the DigiPixel?'
Well, it's really up to your imagination! You could make a game of Space Invaders, Tetris or perhaps Snake. You could write messages in the air and capture it on your camera with the AirWrite function. You could keep track of Facebook likes, use it as an electronic dice, a scrolling desk clock or even a digital name badge. It's amazing what you can do with just 64 pixels!
I will be releasing a tutorial video that takes you through the entire process of making your very first DigiPixel Video Game. From designing your own levels, converting and then importing them into your Arduino sketch to graphic animation and collision detection etc...
The DigiPixel plugs straight into an Arduino or Digispark and you program your sketches in the Arduino IDE, just like any other shield.
DigiPixel connected to a Digispark.
DigiPixel connected to an Arduino Uno.
In order to make things nice and easy for you, I have created a DigiPixel Arduino Library. This means that all the 'heavy lifting' has been done for you and you can get straight into writing some code to make the DigiPixel actually do something. In fact, two lines of code is all that is needed to make the cool random pixel screen saver as seen in the video!
The Library gives you access to a whole heap of functions that allow you to draw pixels, boxes and lines in eight different colours. You can fill, clear, invert and rotate the screen plus you can even check for collisions to help with your game mechanics.
Here are just a few basic lines of code to show you how easy it is to get started with the DigiPixel.
The following example shows a simple game screen with a light blue sky, green grass, some yellow blocks and a 'player' who is red. Notice the use of the word 'barrier' this allows us to prevent our player from moving through these pixels I.E. so we can walk on the grass and blocks.
The DigiPixel Manual will give detailed information for how you can use each function within the DigiPixel library. Here is a sample page giving details of the digiPixel.fillScreen function.
The AirWrite function allows you to draw images and text in the air to capture with your camera for some really cool photo effects. (Your camera will need to be set to a slow shutter speed for best results.)
Alternatively, you could mount the DigiPixel to your bike wheel to draw graphics and text as you ride your bike!
Try your hand at making a multi player game by connecting two DigPixels together via the i2c bus. (Please note that this will only work with an Arduino and not the Digispark due to a lack of pins on the Digispark).
To make things even easier for you, I have developed a graphics conversion program that allows you to import your own game level designs, text and images and then convert them into data arrays that you paste straight into your Arduino code, all with the click of a button.
The software can even differentiate between when a pixel is a barrier and when it isn't. For example if you have a game similar to Super Mario Bros, you might have some water that you want your character to be able to fall through, in this case it would not be a barrier in the exported data array.
First, you draw your game level, graphic or text etc... in Paint.
Open your image in the DigiPixel Graphic Converter, then click 'Convert'.
Your graphic will now be stored in red, green, blue and barrier data arrays that you simply paste into your code:
Here is a video tutorial of the converter software:
The sample Arduino sketches (as seen in the video) were made exclusively to show kickstarter backers some examples of what they might create with their DigiPixel shield. A lot of the sketches could be greatly improved upon and this is where I would like to see backers come in and finish off what has been started.
For example, the Super Pixel Bros game currently only features one level, no power ups and no bad guys. The desktop scrolling clock sketch does not use a real time clock and therefor does not keep accurate time.
So while all code from the examples in the video will be freely available for download, I would love to see you the backers, make some wonderful creations of your own.
I have been a fan of retro video games for a number of years now and have managed to build up quite a collection. If we fast forward a couple of years, my electronic projects became my main hobby and I decided to try and sell off my retro game collection on ebay.
Photo from when I was trying to sell the collection:
Long story short, I still have the collection...
I then decided to combine these two hobbies and create some retro style video games on a simple 8 pixel x 8 pixel LED matrix with a Nintendo NES control pad. Not only was it great fun to program these games - the games themselves were also fun to play!
Original bread boarded DigiPixel prototype:
Since I was having so much fun I thought that surely other people would want to get in on the action too. So I set out to design a shield for the masses that was compatible not only with the ever popular Arduino platform, but also it's unofficial little brother - the Digispark.
Designing the DigiPixel PCB:
So after months of designing, soldering, programming, testing, troubleshooting and re-designing, the DigiPixel is now complete and ready for mass production.
The final PCB design:
- Credit card size design - 85mm x 54mm.
- 1.6mm thick PCB with Red solder mask.
- 8 pixel by 8 pixel RGB LED matrix.
- Six momentary push buttons (Up, Down, Left, Right, A and B).
- Arduino compatible pin configuration.
- DigiSpark compatible pin configuration.
- 64 x 3528 RGB LED's.
- 6 x momentary push buttons.
- 4 x 74595 serial to parallel shift registers.
- 1 x 74165 parallel to serial shift register.
- 8 x 2n2222A NPN transistors.
- 32 x 150 ohm resistors.
- 6 x 10k ohm resistors.
- 5 x 0.1uF capacitors.
- 2.54mm Male headers (for connecting to the Arduino / Digispark).
The DigiPixel has gone through three different PCB designs over the last few months. The current design (as seen on this Kickstarter page) is the final design that will be shipped to backers. All components will be soldered to the PCB at the factory with the exception of the 2.54mm male headers. The headers will be sent with the DigiPixel, this helps to reduce shipping costs.
Prototype design with solder paste.
I have been in negotiations with a reputable PCB manufacturing and assembly company in China that I have worked with previously, in fact it is the same company that I used with the successful PICnDuino Kickstarter campaign late 2012.
- Campaign ends January 10 2014
- Gathering info from backers ends 24 January 2014
- Funds get transferred to my account and then from my account to the manufacturer 24 January 2014
- Manufacturing ends mid February 2014
- Shipping begins late February 2014
- Backers can expect to receive their rewards in March 2014 (delivery time will vary depending on your locality)
The DigiPixel is an open source hardware platform that will be released under the 'Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike' license. This means that you are free to recreate and modify the DigiPixel design, even for commercial purposes, as long as you attribute the original designer and distribute it under the same license.
Schematics, PCB design, bill of materials, sample games and programs, graphic converter and Arduino DigiPixelLibrary will all be freely available for download after the Kickstarter campaign has ended.
Risks and challenges
This is my third Kickstarter campaign (the previous two being with a joint Kickstarter account - see PICnDuino link above). I have learnt a great deal through my past experience with Kickstarter and getting a product out there to backers.
Firstly, I have found that every step of the process, right up to delivery needs to be planned before the campaign begins. As such, I have locked in a reputable PCB manufacturing and assembly company that have proven to be professional, reliable and helpful. I will be using the same company that I used for the PICnDuino project which was successfully funded back in December 2012.
The DigiPixel design uses readily available components that will not be obsolete in the near future which means the DigiPixel is designed to be future-proof.
DigiPixel has been in development for a number of months now and has undergone multiple revisions to arrive at a design that is not only practical, but functional and enjoyable to use. The completed prototypes have undergone extensive testing to ensure correct operation and ease of use. This means that the unit that backers will receive will be the finished product - ready to go and bug free.
I have had extensive experience in the design, manufacture, coding, testing and debugging of numerous electronic projects. These projects can be found all over the internet on various websites, blogs and forums. Please see my bio for links and further information on my qualifications and experience.
Last of all (but certainly not least) - I understand that backers expect to have their item delivered within the specified time frame stated by creators. I have factored in the time required for me to receive funds, transfer funds to the manufacturer, manufacturing and testing times and also shipping times to give an accurate time frame for when backers will receive their DigiPixels.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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