About this project
Creating amazing, dynamic holiday displays is about to get a lot easier. Dancing LEDs are strings of vibrant, energy efficient lights controlled by a smart phone app with an extensive library of free and low-cost light sequences. Any light on the string can be any color at any time. With 16 million colors and up to 4,000 lights per controller the creative possibilities are endless.
As fun as Dancing LEDs are, they are also practical.
- Can’t agree on whether to decorate with colored or white lights? Dancing LEDs can be either, so just take turns.
Do you want to decorate with lights more often but don’t have the time to change out lights for each holiday?One set of Dancing LEDs is all you need.
- Have you looked into animated Christmas displays only to be scared off by wiring diagrams and data protocols? We've done all the technical work for you. Take advantage of the free light sequences and easy-to-use app.
The light strings, power supplies and controller housing are all designed for outdoor use so you can use them outside with confidence in any weather. The lights are spaced at 12cm (4.7"), and each 50-light string lights up 6m (19.7 feet). Bluetooth range is expected to be 30 feet, so you can change outdoor light sequences from the warmth of your home.
For more examples of Dancing LEDs and "Creepy Tree Man" in action, check out the music video for "We Wish You a Maker Christmas (and a Hacker New Year)".
We've completed our prototypes and have started the pilot run of the light strings. Our goal is to start shipping light strings to Early Bird backers by Thanksgiving. The funds from a successful Kickstarter will be used for PCB fabrication and assembly, tooling for a waterproof controller housing and ongoing app development.
We have developed a range of options that are sure to satisfy both the novice and the expert. The Dancing LEDs Starter Pack includes everything you need to get started. The Tree Pack, 2D Mega Pack and 3D and Mega Pack include more lights and greater capability for expansion. Lower cost options are available for expansion of existing packs and use in DIY holiday lighting. Once you see the power of having your phone control your decorative lights, we think you'll want to use the Dancing LEDs controller.
DIY Light String
Expert users only. You will need to provide your own controller and power supply.
50-light Expansion Pack
Adding more lights is simple with the expansion pack. Up to 10 light strings can be chained together on one controller channel. Power for each light string is provided by its own AC-DC power supply. The power cord is part of the light string, and all connectors are keyed for mistake-proof setup. The expansion pack is a great gift idea for someone who is already getting the starter pack. It can also be used by people who already have a suitable controller and are just looking for the light strings and power supply.
50-light Starter Pack
The Starter Pack is the best option for getting started with animated lights. Perfect for decorating small areas like door frames, windows and framed art displays. The starter pack comes with a 1-channel controller, which can drive up to 500 lights.
100-light Tree Pack
Twice the lights for twice the fun. Just the right amount for decorating a Christmas tree or creating low resolution pixel animation. The Tree pack includes a 2-channel controller that can drive up to 1,000 lights.
2D Mega Tree Pack
Designed for creating a 2D tree-shaped pixel display. It can also be used for 12x50 or 24x25 rectangular pixel displays and large outdoor trees. 600 lights is enough to start telling stories with light. The 4-channel controller can drive up to 2,000 lights.
3D Mega Tree Pack
Designed for a 3D tree-shaped display mounted on a pole and wrapping around in 3-dimensions. It can also be used for 1,200-light pixel animation. The 8-channel controller can drive up to 4,000 lights.
Smart Phone Control
We're dreaming up new ways to use the smart phone control daily. Here are just a few of the options you can expect.
- Choose color themes based on
- Light up your event with your favorite team colors
- Create the perfect atmosphere with color temperature control
Dynamic Lighting Effects
- Animate your yard or home with
smooth fades and subtle glows
- Audio visualization for any song in your library
- Spatial (space) and temporal (time) lighting effects
- Up to 4,000 lights at video
- Use any video to control your light strings
- Built-in support for animated GIF’s
- Display live video from your phone’s
- Detect and adjust for the physical location of each light
- Improve color rendering and consistency with camera feedback
- Planned for Spring 2015
Free and low-cost light sequences for standard configurations
- 50-light Starter Pack (1x50)
- 100-light Tree Pack (2x50)
- 2D Mega Tree (12x50)
- 3D Mega Tree (24x50)
- Extended onboard memory
- Loop sequences without requiring a constant Bluetooth connection
- Simple 4-button control of built-in light patterns
Reward Shipping Schedule
Early Bird backer rewards will use light strings from the pilot run for earliest possible delivery. The first 100 light strings and power supplies have already arrived and are reserved for Early Bird backers! The pace of the Kickstarter will determine how many more we order for Christmas, so please make your pledge today to reserve your light strings and let us know how many more we need to order. After the first 100 light strings are claimed, the lead time from us ordering light strings and power supplies to shipping them out to you with the Dancing LEDs controller is 6-8 weeks.
- Open-source controller hardware and software
- Two WS2811 RGB LEDs per bulb for enhanced brightness
- 12cm (4.7") bulb spacing
- 12V DC light string supply
- 24W maximum power consumption per 50-light string
- Teensy 3.1 Arduino derivative controller
- Freescale ARM Cortex M4 CPU using OctoWS2811 library
- Bluetooth Smart Ready
- iOS and Android 4.3+ compatible
- USB interface for controller programming
- Integration with Arduino development environment
What Backers are Saying:
"My wife and I have been blessed to know Jarrod and Brady for many years - and I could not name two more brilliant guys whose personalities mesh to create a successful team. I'm excited to be their first backer and can't wait to get my Dancing LEDs!" - Jon Ball, Backer #1
"I went to college with Jarrod and Brady and I know that they are technically capable to develop this. But more importantly I know that they have the integrity to deliver on the promise." - Aaron Sanders, Technical Program Manager, Backer #4
Backer Reward Artwork
Backer rewards below the $70 pledge level consist of keepsakes that commemorate your part in the launch of Dancing LEDs. There are 3 pieces of Dancing LEDs artwork used in the keepsake backer rewards. The reward renderings below reflect the artwork at the time of launch. The final rewards may look different.
Pixel Nativity: Pixel art rendering of the Christmas story commissioned by Dancing LEDs and created by pixel artist Harveydentmd
Dancing LEDs Logo: There were originally two incredibly happy dancing LED's sketched by my 15-year old daughter Joy. Graphic designer David Hurtado has respected the original and taken it to the next level.
Smart Phone Santa: What started as a funny thought about Santa getting Dancing LEDs for all of the other reindeer turned into a major project of its own. My daughter Joy hand-sculpted each of the figures, I helped wire up the LEDs, and Buster Jetter photographed the scene. There ended up being too much detail in the scene to put it on a t-shirt, but it will make great Christmas cards, bookmarks and coffee mugs.
T-shirt rewards are available in both men's and women's styles as showing in the rendering below.
Risks and challenges
Dancing LEDs faces many of the same risks associated with taking any electronic product from prototype to production.
- Bluetooth range can be sensitive to printed circuit board layout. The custom PCB design is expected to improve the range of the Bluetooth interface, but the final range will not be known until the PCB is designed and fabricated. This will be completed during the course of the Kickstarter campaign.
- At the time we ship backer rewards, the app will still be in "beta" status. This means you have the opportunity to request new features and report bugs, but it also means there are likely to be some bugs. We plan to update the app weekly in December and more often if necessary.
- We ordered as many light strings and power supplies as we could afford so Early Bird backers can get their light strings in plenty of time for Christmas. The power supplies are already here, and the light strings will arrive in mid October. We have negotiated with our suppliers and determined that we must place our next order by October 15th in order to receive all the components by December 1st. We will do our best to ship out all rewards before Christmas, but pledges made after October 15th may not make it into the first production order.
- The controller and the controller housing will be the last things to arrive. A critical error in either of these designs would delay fulfillment of rewards that include the controller. The construction of the prototypes from open-source modules has minimized the controller schedule risk.
- A key feature of our risk mitigation strategy is limiting the number of light string rewards. While we would love to put Dancing LEDs in every home this year, we have decided to keep the quantity low enough that we could implement last-minute fixes on every controller if necessary and provide personal support to each backer. You are helping us launch the product, so you deserve our time and attention.
- Dancing LEDs will require UL and FCC testing in the US and will be registered with the Bluetooth SIG. The light strings produce almost no heat and are much safer than incandescent lights. The power supplies have already been UL certified, and discussions with UL indicate that certification should be straightforward. We will begin certifications as early as possible, but all testing may not be complete when the rewards are ready to ship.
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