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$2,507 pledged of $125,000 goal
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By Scott Burkhart
$2,507 pledged of $125,000 goal
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About this project

Music is everywhere.  Most of us listen, many create it, and light effects can enhance music events from the low-tech mirror ball to the elaborate movable lights and strobes. Most light effects are for the professionals, considering the cost and learning curve. Still, there are times such as parties, dances, night-time parades, school plays and yes - holidays where us mere mortals want our own lightshow.

You've seen the holiday lightshow competitions, and with LED string lights they are getting much better. But wouldn't you really like to create lightshows using your own music and simple, widely available digital audio workshops such as Garage Band or Logic Pro. Or even better to purchase or stream lightshows for your enjoyment.

$279 pledge for a ScottEffx

$279 gets you one system, and for early birds a second one at cost with your lightshow video posted online. Wait, you say, I can already buy systems and lightshows. That is true, but with ScottEffx your lights effects run six times faster than the competition's light-dimmer technology, limiting that annoying flicker.  With ScottEffx we make lightshow creation easy, using software you probably already have. And with ScottEffx we expect widely available and inexpensive lightshows unlike others' limited and pricy selections.

ScottEffx has a clear path to the sale and distribution of music enhanced with lightshow content, for all musical artists, presenting a new media opportunity.

Thus, with ScottEffx you create lightshows with stuff you already have lying around the house, such as your computer with Garage Band or Logic Pro, your holiday lights stuffed away in the garage, and any music you have on your computer. A MIDI keyboard helps, but your computer's keyboard works too.


What is ScottEffx

It is a hardware and software system which enables anyone with a Mac and LED string lights to create really cool lightshows. Created by you, not some algorithm. Soon, PC's and perhaps tablets will be added as hosts for lightshow creation.

Two ScottEffx prototypes, one in an engineering enclosure
Two ScottEffx prototypes, one in an engineering enclosure

It is one or more 8-channel ScottEffx's like the ones above, controlled by the host to fire-off light effects as composed to your favorite music. Using USB or WiFi, you easily expand to multiple ScottEffx's, and up to 255 channels. The 'Parade' shown in the video used three ScottEffx for 24 separate channels.

Parade demonstration snapshot with three ScottEffx
Parade demonstration snapshot with three ScottEffx

It is a platform for musicians to create great lightshows for their use and exchange, distribution and sale. Lightshows are exported as MIDI files and played directly using our media player. Single file formats for are forthcoming.

It is a way for the consumer to easily play really cool lightshows purchased or streamed using their own LED string lights. Media players for playing lightshows through ScottEffx will be created for all music-playing consumer electronics including tablets and phones.


Why ScottEffx?

The Electronics: Compared to other, light-dimmer technology based products, ScottEffx has a six times faster refresh rate to limit flicker, and a 210 Hz data rate (square root of 44,100, isn't that interesting?) for strobe-like performance. 

Efficient electronics and floating circuitry eliminates bulky transformers for a compact and cool package.

Isolated USB and WiFi provide reliable communication links.

Fast Microchip Technology Inc processor handles the demanding real-time lightshow management and 25,000 overload checks per second.

The Software: Integrates with the popular Digital Audio Workshops such as Garage Band and Logic Pro (others supported soon), interfaced to the lightshow host software through the virtual instrument ScottEffx "Audio Unit" .

Live or recorded MIDI keyboard events instantly trigger light effects on one or more outputs, all configurable through a MIDI Map for each channel, and channel selection for each of the 8 ScottEffx outputs.

Easily add ScottEffx's if more than 8 string light outputs are desired.

WiFi and USB interfaces permit secure operation in all environments. All ScottEffx's within your router's range are discovered, controlled, and operated with WPA2-PSK security.

Reliable WiFi communications software by Interniche Technologies Inc, and reliable USB communications and peripheral operation by Microchip Technology's Harmony suite.

Why Kickstarter

Kickstarter funding takes our production prototype ScottEffx shown above into full production.

Major production expenses include tooling for a great chassis (not the one shown above), tooling for an output cable (not NEARLY the one shown above) and of course production , one for each pledge. In addition we need to get UL and FCC certification, test equipment and cover business and legal expenses.

There is no doubt you will receive one of these, as they work fantastic. All the hardware and software is robust, and as evidenced by over a year of operation during software development and recent, substantial field work taking videos AND an elementary school science fair demo. We had 55 kids who created their own lightshows at the science fair to the theme of Mission Impossible, pounding on the keyboard for hours without issue. 

There are minor board changes to incorporate in the production version, which will be verified with a small number of builds prior to committing to the full production. Incorporation of a more rugged output connector is the most significant board (hardware) change. We will also be purchasing  equipment for appropriate and thorough test prior to shipment. There is also legal, insurance, and patent work needing attention prior to shipping. Hiring key music, business, software and hardware personnel will also commence, particularly once we are successful with followup angel or venture capital investments.

The founder Scott Burkhart is a technical manager and electronics engineer, with experience in the production and test environment. With graduate degrees from Caltech and the University of Washington, he was previously employed by a national laboratory as both an Electronics and Laser Engineer and before that designing and producing equipment for the radio broadcast industry. He will be directly involved in supervising the production, test, shipping, and customer interaction.

Rewards

Early Birds: One ScottEffx Modulator system with all software and software updates for $279, plus a second one for cost,  upon your posting a Lightshow with credit to ScottEffx onto YouTube or other social media. If follow-on production features substantially upgraded hardware, we will replace your original ScottEffx at no cost. Your maximum shipping cost will be $60, less in most locations. Initial certification for US use only.

Follow-On production: One ScottEffx Modulator system with all software and software updates for $279.

Support a video of Debbie untangling the lights: Pledge $1

4'th of July video: Help us make an awesome 4'th of July lightshow video set to John Philip Sousa. For that we need to buy a lot of red, white, and blue LED string lights. Pledge $10.

Risks and challenges

The primary costs covered by Kickstarter pledges are production tooling for the chassis and cable, but there is not much risk in the tooling.
There is always the risk, however, that during UL and FCC certification that some issue arises, requiring design changes, delaying initial delivery.
ScottEffx is connected to the 120 V wall plug power, and sends that voltage directly to the lights, modulated of course. We do not want to harm anyone, and will only ship a safe and UL compliant product. The connector change ensures that live conductors are not exposed, but due to our 360Hz inverter approach, there may be other UL issues to resolve. We are confident that precedence with rectified LED string lights and UL certification by competitors show the way to our UL certification. The circuit board itself was designed with UL recommended conductor clearances, insulation requirements, and fused line inputs, and is expected to already be in compliance.

As for FCC compliance, we believe that the relatively slow switching speeds of our circuitry is generating low, compliant levels of EMI, but testing will reveal any issues.Compliance (if not already) through software and inexpensive hardware changes is all that's expected.

Scott Burkhart's experience in electronics systems and electromagnetics will facilitate rapid solution of any problems which may arise.

So sit back, watch the progress on this site and our website http://www.scotteffx.com, and quickly you'll have your own ScottEffx.

Thank you, and please partner with us to bring this product to life!

Scott Burkhart
April 27, 2015

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Help us create a video of our star Debbie untangling the lights, untangle techniques, and a untangle lightshow

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Support an awesome 4'th of July lightshow video to John Philip Sousa, by helping us buy more red, white, and blue LED string lights

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $279 or more About $279

    One ScottEffx Modulator system with all software and software updates, plus a second one at cost with your video. Actual shipping costs, $60 max. More details in project description

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $279 or more About $279

    One ScottEffx Modulator system from the second production cycle with all software and software updates. Actual shipping costs, $60 max.

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Funding period

- (30 days)