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An interactive LED based display for retro pixel art. Use your Android device to change the image or animation.
An interactive LED based display for retro pixel art. Use your Android device to change the image or animation.
An interactive LED based display for retro pixel art. Use your Android device to change the image or animation.
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303 backers pledged $51,536 to help bring this project to life.

PIXEL Desktop Prototype Version 2 - Would Love your Feedback

Hey everyone, here are some pics and a video of version 2 of the PIXEL Desktop prototype. Unlike the wall hanging PIXEL, PIXEL Desktop would go on your desk. If people like it and the concept, most likely we'll do another Kickstarter for it. 

I'm thinking to do it in all black. However by unscrewing four screws, you can swap in an alternative acrylic panel to change the lighting effect as seen in the pics with the white front panel.

Note the back of the prototype sticks out pretty far. We'll most likely design a new board which will make this back part stick out about half as it does now.

I'd love your feedback on the prototype and any suggestions/features you'd like to see. Thank you very much. 



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    1. Creator Al Linke on July 9, 2013

      Hey Yves, appreciate the feedback! The top two feature requests for PIXEL were stand alone operation and iOS support. So yes for PIXEL Desktop and PIXEL Version 2, we will be designing a new board which will have stand alone capability. As you may know today, PIXEL can operate without the Android device or PC for still images but not for animations. The plan is to add an SD card such that animations can run (after being set initially from Android or a PC) stand alone. For interactive functionality (interactive animations, weather app, etc.), doing that stand alone becomes a bigger challenge. Most likely for the interactive apps, the Android or PC would still be needed. Let me know what you think about this.
      On the square LEDs, I'm pretty sure that can be achieved today by adding a white/frost colored sheet in between the LED matrix and the existing acrylic panel. I'm going to play around with that, I'll update you on the results. I like this idea , potentially we can have that as an option for those who prefer square pixels. A stackable frame is also a great idea, I'll give that some thought too. PIXEL will remain as a frame but PIXEL Desktop will be frameless. Perhaps if we add a wall mount option on PIXEL Desktop, the LED wall effect could be achieved. Thanks again, these are great ideas!

    2. Creator Yves Luther on July 9, 2013

      Dear Pixel Team,

      as a backer of the original version with the golden frame, I would prefer Pixel to develop in a little different version than the Desktop Version:

      One aspect would be that the Pixel can operate on its own, without an Android device. For the setup and configuration an Android device is fine. Though a generic Web interface would be more device independent. But I never really understood (until I received our Pixel) that a permanent running Android device is mandatory.

      The other aspect would be to have real square LEDs. And bonus points for making such a square LED Pixel frame-less and stackable, that you could build kind of an LED wall.

      Do you plan to implement some of these aspects in future versions?

      Kind regards, Yves Luther

    3. Creator Al Linke on July 8, 2013

      Hey Joshua, thanks, that's good feedback. Yes Bluetooth can be finicky, it's very device specific unfortunately, what devices are you using? For PC Windows, I've noticed that the Microsoft bluetooth stack works well while vendor specific Bluetooth stacks may or may not. On a Toshiba laptop for example, uninstalling the Toshiba Bluetooth stack and switching to the native Microsoft Bluetooth stack did the trick.

      Note that PIXEL today supports Android over USB as well meaning you can pop out the Bluetooth dongle and direct connect your Android to PIXEL via USB. To use USB over Android for Gingerbread Android, ensure USB debugging is turned on. And for 4.2 and above, ensure USB debugging is turned off . The other side benefit to this method is that your Android device will also charge at the same time.

      In the next version, we're thinking to switch boards such that USB to the PC is also supported and yeah if we do that, we could certainly make that board available to you. But as mentioned, USB over Android works now, does that help?

      I'm afraid we didn't document all the gory detail on interfacing the LED matrix, sorry about that. There is nothing to hide, just didn't have the time to document everything. But there is a good explanation on Adafruit on how they interfaced a similar LED matrix to an Arduino , that may help.

    4. Creator Joshua Siler on July 8, 2013

      I bought a PIXEL Guts kit to use as a desktop version, but I've found the Android/Bluetooth requirement to be a major PITA. I can't get it to reliably pair to my computer, and the development toolchain is needlessly complex. Yes, I could buy an old droid, but the whole process of building an android app and deploying it to a phone every time I make a change slows the iteration cycle way down and makes any kind of agile development difficult. My ideal would be a USB connector that I could use standard serial communications with. It's much easier to deal with from a coding perspective, and I think you'd find a lot more innovation on the programming front.

      I would definitely be interested in a second Kickstarter round if I could order a new board with USB that plugs into my existing PIXEL display.

      My current plan for the PIXEL, if I ever get around to do it, is getting rid of the clumsy android board it comes with and putting in a standard USB I/O board in it's place. Any chance you could publish the specs for managing the LEDs through the ribbon cable directly? It would save a lot of time trying to reverse engineer them.

    5. Creator Al Linke on July 7, 2013

      Hey Nic, there was a guy looking into the Pi and PIXEL, I'll post an update if he gets it working. The other option to think about is getting a used Android phone off eBay, I recommend a Motorola Droid X which can be had for $50 - $60 USD. Daisy chaining would be nice, it's on the to do list but no work has started there as of yet. Thanks for the feedback.

    6. Creator Craig Dunn on July 7, 2013

      Keep in mind that you can pair it with a computer as, you're not limited to just using Android phone/tablet apps to drive the PIXEL. The point is well taken that giving the display some sort of full autonomy is the next logical step in the evolution of the control logic, though.

    7. Creator Ryan Dickerson on July 7, 2013

      Nice, I think adding a clock and or weather display would be cool, it shouldn't be that hard since it is paired to the phone.

    8. Creator nic gilbert on July 7, 2013

      Features I'd like to see: raspberry pi powered so we dont have to dedicate a phone for blue tooth. Daisy chaining multiple displays together.