About this project
RasPiO Inspiring is a system of programmable RGB LED boards which can connect together to make whatever 2D or 3D shape you want. Make a...
- Light Pyramid
- Mood light
- Internet Clock (NTP)
- TV simulator security device
- Persistance of vision project
- Natural light alarm clock
- Controllable light source for macro photography/videography
- Christmas or other holiday decorative lighting
- Eye-catching wearable
Or embed them in any project that requires really fine control over colour and intensity of light.
RasPiO Inspiring can be controlled by most popular electronics platforms, including...
- Raspberry Pi and Python (or any other language)
- ESP8266 (e.g. Wemos D1 mini)
- ATtiny (e.g. Digispark)
You could even control it from your phone, if connected to wifi-enabled device like the Pi Zero W. Open a port on your router and you could switch on your 'TV simulator' if you're away from home (make it look like someone's home watching TV).
But you can also hook up all sorts of other control mechanisms too, such as light, motion, sound or temperature sensors to trigger your LEDs.
Board Types & Connections
All the boards are based on 1cm LED spacing and 10cm side. Through-holes enable use of standard 2.54mm headers, or you can wire directly to them if you prefer. Each shape has at least one set of inputs and outputs so they can be 'daisy-chained' together. The straights have 3 sets of input/output holes so they can be connected at 180°, 90° or 45°.
Straight 8 - 8 LEDs on a 10cm straight strip
Driver - pHAT-sized driver board for Raspberry Pi with a buffer chip to handle the 5V logic levels and a space for external power if needed. Pi GPIO ports are broken out and there is space for an optional ADC, which enables control of your LEDs with potentiometers or sensors.
Triangle - 24 LEDs on a 10cm equilateral triangle
Circle - 24 LEDs on a 10cm diameter circle
If the project does well enough to cover it, I hope to offer a semi-circle and then possibly a square. I'd love to do these too, but need to ensure they are adequately funded to avoid spreading myself too thin. If they do go ahead, the semi-circle will have 12 LEDs and 10cm diameter and the square will have 36 LEDs and 10cm side.
Software & Learning Resources
Software for RasPiO Inspiring is already written. It's being used to drive the demos in the video. It will be up on GitHub soon. I want to add some more examples, documentation and create a nice RasPi.TV-style user guide and perhaps some video as well.
One of the planned learning resources is an SPI tutorial showing how these LEDs are programmed by sending 1s and 0s to them rapidly.
As always, the extent of the learning resources and documentation will depend on how well the project does. If it does really well I can justify spending more time making the resources really excellent and creating more of them.
RasPiO Inspiring uses APA102c (or the newer SK9822) type LEDs which are controlled using SPI. I've written a Python class for Raspberry Pi use. It's really quite simple to use...
For other platforms, there's a fantastic library called FastLED which can be used with Arduino and ESP8266 devices.
Each colour of each LED is rated at 20 mA, so a pyramid's 72 LEDs could draw as much as 4.3A at full tilt. In practice you never really use maximum brightness on all three colours at once.
The pyramid demonstrations in the video can run comfortably on the Pi without additional power at settings that are more than bright enough for my eyes to withstand.
For most applications you can take power from the Pi, if your PSU has enough juice. But, if you need to, you can connect an external 5V source and use the alternative connections on the driver board (or add supplementary wires directly to 5V/GND on the LED boards).
RasPiO Inspiring LED boards will be supplied as shown in the photos. If you decide to use the supplied headers you will need to solder them on. Not everyone will want to use them in the same configuration, so they are left off for maximum flexibility.
I've listed all the rewards as "September" delivery, but I try to under-promise and over-deliver. My last 5 projects have been delivered way ahead of schedule. Whether or not we can ship early will depend largely on how the production trials go. If they go well, we might be able to ship in June/July. It's a "known unknown" so I'm being open about it. Here is the outline plan...
- If the project does extremely well, it will take longer to ship, but rewards will be shipped out in approximate backer # order (early birds first, although we will sort by destination) and we'll keep you updated about how far we have got.
- Tracking codes and individual shipping notifications will not be issued, but regular updates will show you which reward groups have been sent, so you will know when your rewards are on the way.
- No variants! This is a simple project, which makes it affordable and logistically efficient.
- No radical design changes. This would delay the project for everyone.
If you've got this far, congratulations. Please back the project by selecting one of the rewards.
Can I upgrade my driver to get the ADC and connectors?
YES. Details how to do this will be in the updates. But essentially you add £5 to your pledge and send me a message through the KS messaging system.
How do I add an extra?
This will be explained in the updates
Are you going to make the semi-circle and square?
I hope so, but it will depend on how well the project does. To do 6 PCBs on the current target would be too much, but I'd rather add them as extras than raise the target.
Is soldering involved?
YES. The reward photos show you what is in the kit. You will need to put it together yourself. There will be RasPi.TV-style instructions though. It won't be hard, but the pyramid requires some care.
Risks and challenges
This is KS #7 for me, so I have a good idea of what to expect. The last 5 have been shipped early. This one is a bit bigger than the last few projects as it involves multiple boards. But they're all similar designs and the prototypes all work, as does the software.
As always, unforeseen unknowns can trip a project up, e.g. component availability, manufacturing issues etc. But the boards will be QC checked on site by the manufacturers. I will be sending them some test gear for this. This should also help them to quickly optimise the manufacturing process - ensuring we get no failed boards.
So the main risk factor is timeline slippage. Obviously if the project does ridiculously well it will take longer to fulfil.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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