Funded! This project was successfully funded on November 15, 2012.

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An extensible open-source high current RGB LED fixture driver with integrated analog faders, pushbuttons, microphone, and Bluetooth.

Update: 11/1/12

Thanks to all our backers, we have surpassed our original funding goal! In response to feedback received from backers, the following features will be added to the PILED system:

  • Higher current drivers! Safely drive 10A per channel (30A total)! This is enough for around 15 5m strings of RGB LEDs, or 4500 LEDs. This will allow a single PILED board to be used to control a large amount of LEDs for room lighting, or for one single, huge, fixture. 
  • Support/library for changing the PWM frequency. For certain uses, it may be desirable to run the LEDs at a higher frequency. If you operate the PILED board in 8 bit output mode (8 bits per channel), the PWM frequency is 62,500Hz. Decreasing the color depth further allows even higher PWM frequencies.

The PILED Development System is an MSP430 based development board with integrated MOSFET high current LED drivers, bluetooth communication, linear slide potentiometers, buttons, and a microphone. 

DIY? I thought this was a lamp...:
The PILED system is available solely as a DIY kit, which includes an etched PCB , all components, self-adhesive RGB LED tape, and materials to construct a "light tile" lamp. We presolder the surface mount processor – everything else is through-hole. This is designed as an educational kit - No prior experience is necessary. For those who do already know how to solder, and have a background in electronics, the PILED board leaves plenty of room for enhancements. With 13 free I/O lines, the PILED board is designed to easily incorporate custom sensors and interfaces, such as ultrasonic rangefinders, or PIR motion detectors. Although the PILED board comes with a preprogrammed chip, we encourage you to create your own unique lighting routines. The PILED board can be easily programmed over serial using Energia (A port of Arduino's IDE) or TI's Code Composer Studio.

Designed for creativity:
Every on board device (literally every pin on the microcontroller, actually) can be selectively disconnected, and replaced with custom devices/circuits by simply removing a shorting block! Female headers are provided for all microcontroller pins, as well as for 12V,5V, and 3.3V. This allows the board to be used for things besides (or in addition to) driving LEDs.

LED Tape is great:The LED tape is self adhesive, can be cut every 3 LEDs, and has a 5050 smd RGB LED every ~0.66in (100 per 5.5ft strip). We suggest making an array of 81 or 225 LEDs (9x9; 15x15) for use as a DJ-style lighting fixture, or using the RGB LED Tape to trim a desk, or inside a computer case . To make a cool energy efficient mood light, take a rice paper lamp, and build a "bulb" using LED tape and a cardboard tube or small box.

What do I get?

  • Everyone that contributes gets their name and gravatar (if desired) listed on the LIB3 website.
  • Everyone who donates $5 or more gets a thank-you note, as well as two "fast-flash" LEDs for use in your electronics projects. These LEDs are cool RGB LEDs with an integrated chip that makes them automatically change colors. You can't control the color - they run a preset cycle.

The upper level rewards contain a PILED board kit (including the parts for creating the LED tile itself), as well as the above rewards.  (Read the reward descriptions carefully!)

The PILED board kit consists of the following:

  • Etched PILED PCB (Roughly 2.5"x4")
  • MSP430 processor, preprogrammed and presoldered to the PCB
  • All components (resistors, capacitors, op-amp, microphone, faders, bluetooth module, etc)

The LED tile sizes are as follows:

  • 3x3 - A short strip of 9 RGB LEDS, plus diffuser panel and hardboard for a 3 inch square fixture. This is a great size for a night light.
  • 9x9 - A strip of 100 RGB LEDs (enough for a 9x9 array, plus a few extra), plus diffuser panel and hardboard for a 7 inch square fixture. This is a great size for a small-medium sized bedroom, or for mood lighting.
  • 15x15 - A full 5m roll of 300 RGB LEDs! (enough for a 15x15 array, with a bunch left over), plus diffuser panel and hardboard for an 11 inch square fixture. This is the largest amount of LED tape the PILED board can 'safely' drive. Use this massive amount of LEDs to retrofit large lamps, or to trim counters. This puts out a lot of light, and can be used effectively in a larger room. This is the size LED strip used for the display at Makerfaire.
LED TILE Relative Size (LED spacing is the same in each)
LED TILE Relative Size (LED spacing is the same in each)

Technical Hardware Features:

  • Texas Instruments MSP430G2553 Microprocessor – 16MHz;
  • 16-Bit RISC Architecture;
  • USCI with auto-baudrate UART,I2C, IrDA, and SPI;
  • 8ch 10-Bit 200-ksps ADC;
  • On-chip comparators;
  • Internal temperature sensor;
  • 24 GPIO with integrated capacitive touch functionality;
  • 16KB Flash (program memory);
  • 512 bytes SRAM;
  • Two pushbuttons for selecting modes, entering data, etc. 
  • Three linear slide potentiometers allow precise and easy entry of analog data. (Why three? – for the perfect RGB mixer! With a simple program, each of these faders can be set up to correspond to a color of light) 
  • Electret microphone, with amplifier and hardware envelope filter (this allows the MSP430 to read the ‘level’ of sound, rather than the waveform). Use the microphone to make the LEDs change color with music, turn on and off with a clap, etc… 
  • 3.3V and 5V voltage regulators provide 1A of current each, for powering DIY circuits and external sensors 
  • Screw terminals allow for easy connection of input power, output LEDs, and communication lines.

Why is this better than that other RGB LED controller?
The PILED board is designed as a high end lighting controller - while many would consider the CPU overkill, it enables more accurate color depiction. To better approximate the sensitivity of the human eyes, a given color component (which is 8 bits, from 0 - 255) is scaled through a nonlinear function to 12 bits. This is then output via PWM at around 4000Hz. This is high enough that it is virtually impossible to detect any flickering. This extremely high frequency is accomplished through the use of outputs directly coupled to timers in the MSP430. Rather than run an interrupt service routine, that would then turn the output on or off, the timer directly changes the output, in a single cycle (saving a few cycles, which enables significantly higher PWM frequencies without any CPU load). The PILED board is also much more than just a lighting controller - it's extensibility and wide set of features make it a great learning platform for embedded programming, as well as a unique but very usable device.

Open Source!
The PILED board is an open source project. This means anyone can look at how it is made, how it works, and ultimately, replicate it. All material is licensed under the New BSD license unless otherwise stated.
Check out the 'official' development repository at:
http://code.google.com/p/piled/
A public repository containing thoroughly tested and commented code will be created before the PILED boards ship.

World Makerfaire 2012:
We had a booth at Makerfaire (Sept. 29, 30 - NYC)  in the Viscusi gallery, with hands-on demonstrations of a few PILED prototype boards using both the computer and the Android bluetooth control apps, as well as a sample LED array, and a modded IKEA lamp. We had a great turnout, and received valuable feedback from literally hundreds of members of the open-source and maker communities. Thanks for stopping by, and we hope you liked it (that's why you are here, right?).

Why do we need funding?
By backing this project, you are essentially pre-ordering a PILED kit. The Kickstarter campaign will allow us to order parts in bulk, lowering the cost per unit significantly. In fact, if you were to try and build one of these from parts you bought yourself, it would end up costing significantly more than the price here. We need to make a minimum of 100 units to make the PCB, bulk components, and packaging cost effective. Any profit from this campaign will go back into development of new open source hardware - both expansion boards for the PILED board (maybe a DMX-PILED bridge?) and completely new things.

What's done?
At this point, we have created three revisions of PILED board. The hardware is more or less "complete", with the exception of the minor changes listed in the "What's left to do" section. We have demonstration wireless bluetooth control applications for Windows and Android - these aren't designed to be "the official apps" - In fact, we don't plan on having official apps. Rather, by making an easy to use interface, we are enabling the creation of control apps to suit a given purpose (You are building a custom lamp...you probably need a custom app to use it properly). The demonstration apps are designed to be user friendly, and show the full functionality of the stock PILED boards (without custom sensors). Check out all our code, schematics, PCB layout, etc. in the repository.

What's left to do?
Although the PILED boards you saw in the video above are fully functional, they are not the final design revision. On the prototype boards, the bluetooth module is not mounted on the PILED board directly (It was added to the design after this batch of prototype boards was ordered). In addition to adding the bluetooth module footprint, various component pad sizes and spacing have to be adjusted to make soldering easier. We also need to design packaging for the kits - most likely custom printed boxes with die-cut inserts to hold the various components. This will largely depend on the number of units we are ordering in the first batch.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

As with any engineering project, there are several inherent risks. Any delays in the supply chain can mean delays in a finished product. To help alleviate this potential issue, common components have been chosen wherever possible, to allow for multiple potential suppliers. Manufacturing of PCBs is being handled by a company that can easily accommodate any number of units we need made; however, we have also gotten quotes and samples from several other back up companies. The soldering of the processor (the only part that comes pre-soldered) will be done in-house (stencil, solder paste, reflow oven...) for relatively small volumes (<~500 units). We have gotten quotes from the board house for doing this soldering for larger quantities. A testing rig is currently being designed to quickly verify that the processor is correctly soldered and program it with the default code.

As this is largely a user-assembled kit, there is very little in terms of potential manufacturing issues. However, packing the kits could become a large task with a large volume of orders. As several of the parts are somewhat unique (the TI MSP430s, for example), having the kits assembled where the boards are manufactured is likely to be problematic (The parts would have to be shipped there). Instead, we intend to assemble and ship the kits by hand, from within the US. This will guarantee excellent quality control, and allow for faster correction of errors, should there be any.

Despite attempting to eliminate any potential issues, there is always the chance of some unforseeable problem. Our policy will be to be as transparent as possible, and keep you up to date with both progress and setbacks.

FAQ

  • The PILED system requires a 12V DC power supply, 1.5A per 300 RGB LEDs. This should cost at most around $10 for a "wall wart" style supply. If you have adapters from old devices lying around, there is a good chance you have a supply that will work. You can also use the 12V from a computer power supply, if you are going to be integrating the LED tape into a computer case.

    We are planning on making an adapter available for around $5, either for an additional $5 on Kickstarter, or through the LIB3 website.

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  • Pledge $1 or more
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    1 backer

    Every dollar counts... For your donation, we will add you to the list of contributors that will be posted on the LIB3 website, as well as in the source code files for the PILED board.

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    1 backer

    LIB3 will send you a thank you card, with two cool "Fast Flash" RGB Leds to use in your projects. These fun RGB LEDs have an integrated processor, that automatically fades between colors, and flashes, in a preset (not changeable) cycle, when you apply 3V. We do not condone use as indicator lights on devices...

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    Ships within the US only
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    0 backers

    A first edition PILED PCB. This does not include any components or LEDs...Just a PCB. Use your own parts and build a PILED board, or use it as a unique coaster... You also get the above two rewards.

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    0 backers

    A first edition PILED PCB, with a preprogrammed, presoldered processor. DOES NOT INCLUDE ANY COMPONENTS (other than the MSP430 microcontroller). Use your own parts and build a PILED board, or create an unique system using custom sensors and interface components.

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    Add $7 USD to ship outside the US
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    9 backers Limited (1 left of 10)

    RPI 3x3 EDITION: Will Not Be Shipped - Must be picked up on campus. A first edition PILED 3x3 kit - SOLDERING REQUIRED. Includes PCB, all through hole components (we solder the surface mount processor for you), and a strip of 9 RGB LEDs. You also get a 3"x3" square of acrylic diffuser with a 'prismatic' surface, and a 3"x3" square of .125" thick hardboard.

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    15 backers

    A first edition PILED 3x3 kit - SOLDERING REQUIRED. Includes PCB, all through hole components (we solder the surface mount processor for you), and a strip of 9 RGB LEDs. You also get a 3"x3" square of acrylic diffuser with a 'prismatic' surface, and a 3"x3" square of .125" thick hardboard.

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    10 backers

    A first edition PILED 9x9 kit - SOLDERING REQUIRED. Includes PCB, all through hole components (we solder the surface mount processor for you), and a strip of 100 RGB LEDs. You also get a 7"x7" square of acrylic diffuser with a 'prismatic' surface, and a 7"x7" square of .125" thick hardboard.

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    56 backers

    A first edition PILED 15x15 kit - SOLDERING REQUIRED. Includes PCB, all through hole components (we solder the surface mount processor for you), and a strip of 300 RGB LEDs. You also get a 11"x11" square of acrylic diffuser with a 'prismatic' surface, and a 11"x11" square of .125" thick hardboard.

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    15 backers

    [INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING] A first edition PILED 15x15 kit - SOLDERING REQUIRED. Includes PCB, all through hole components (we solder the surface mount processor for you), and a strip of 300 RGB LEDs. You also get a 11"x11" square of acrylic diffuser with a 'prismatic' surface, and a 11"x11" square of .125" thick hardboard.

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- (30 days)