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Make a cool shaped light display, sign, pyramid, NTP clock or TV simulator and control it over WiFi with Raspberry Pi, Arduino, ESP8266
Make a cool shaped light display, sign, pyramid, NTP clock or TV simulator and control it over WiFi with Raspberry Pi, Arduino, ESP8266
Make a cool shaped light display, sign, pyramid, NTP clock or TV simulator and control it over WiFi with Raspberry Pi, Arduino, ESP8266
435 backers pledged £20,843 to help bring this project to life.

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RasPiO Inspiring. Connect RGB LED shapes, sculpt your lights project video thumbnail
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RasPiO Inspiring. Connect RGB LED shapes, sculpt your lights

£20,843

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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 controlled by various boards
RasPiO Inspiring controlled by various boards

RasPiO Inspiring can be controlled by most popular electronics platforms, including...

  • Raspberry Pi and Python (or any other language)
  • Arduino
  • 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

RasPiO Inspiring straight 8 showing connection holes
RasPiO Inspiring straight 8 showing connection holes

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.

RasPiO Inspiring driver board
RasPiO Inspiring driver board

Triangle - 24 LEDs on a 10cm equilateral triangle

RasPiO Inspiring triangle board
RasPiO Inspiring triangle board

Circle - 24 LEDs on a 10cm diameter circle

RasPiO Inspiring circle board
RasPiO Inspiring circle board

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.

RasPiO Inspiring semi-circle board
RasPiO Inspiring semi-circle board

 

RasPiO Inspiring square board
RasPiO Inspiring square board

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.

Annotated oscilloscope trace of SPI sequence setting a red LED to 66%
Annotated oscilloscope trace of SPI sequence setting a red LED to 66%

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.

Technical Stuff

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...

4 lines setup, 2 lines to set and write LED
4 lines setup, 2 lines to set and write LED

For other platforms, there's a fantastic library called FastLED which can be used with Arduino and ESP8266 devices.

Power Requirements

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).

Rewards

RasPiO Inspiring rewards
RasPiO Inspiring rewards

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.

Projected Timings

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... 

RasPiO Inspiring estimated timelines
RasPiO Inspiring estimated timelines

General Points

  • 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.

Anticipated FAQ

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.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £10 or more About $12

    RasPiO Inspiring Straight 8

    A strip of 8 RGB LEDS of extreme blinkiness and programmability. Controllable from any Raspberry Pi or micro-controller.

    Includes:
    • RasPiO Inspiring Driver board pHAT kit
    • RasPiO Inspiring 8-LED straight
    • Jumper wires
    • 4-way header
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    50 backers
    £
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge £20 or more About $25

    RasPiO Inspiring Triangle

    An equilateral triangle (10cm edge) with 24 RGB LEDs of extreme blinkiness and programmability. Controllable from any Raspberry Pi or micro-controller.

    Includes:
    • RasPiO Inspiring Driver board pHAT kit
    • RasPiO Inspiring 24-LED Triangle
    • Jumper wires
    • 4-way header
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    8 backers
    £
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge £20 or more About $25

    RasPiO Inspiring Circle

    A Circle (10cm diameter) with 24 RGB LEDs of extreme blinkiness and programmability. Controllable from any Raspberry Pi or micro-controller.

    Includes:
    • RasPiO Inspiring Driver board pHAT kit
    • RasPiO Inspiring 24-LED circle
    • Jumper wires
    • 4-way header
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    39 backers
    £
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge £30 or more About $37

    NTP Clock kit with Pi Zero W

    Make and customise an attractive clock which always shows the correct time using a Raspberry Pi Zero W and a RasPiO inspiring circle (10cm diameter) with 24 RGB LEDs of extreme blinkiness and programmability.

    Includes:
    • RasPiO Inspiring Driver board pHAT kit
    • RasPiO Inspiring 24-LED circle
    • Jumper wires
    • 4-way header
    • Raspberry Pi Zero W
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    152 backers
    £
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  5. Reward no longer available

    Pledge £40 or more About $49

    early-bird RasPiO Inspiring Pyramid

    Make a pyramid-shaped light display with 72 RGB LEDs of extreme blinkiness and programmability. Controllable from any Raspberry Pi or micro-controller.

    Includes:
    • RasPiO Inspiring Driver board pHAT kit
    • RasPiO Inspiring 24-LED Triangle
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 46 backers
    £
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge £50 or more About $62

    RasPiO Inspiring Pyramid

    Make a pyramid-shaped light display with 72 RGB LEDs of extreme blinkiness and programmability. Controllable from any Raspberry Pi or micro-controller.

    Includes:
    • RasPiO Inspiring Driver board pHAT kit
    • RasPiO Inspiring 24-LED Triangle
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    5 backers
    £
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge £55 or more About $68

    Late-48 RasPiO Inspiring Pyramid

    Make a Pi Zero W controlled pyramid-shaped light display with 72 RGB LEDs of extreme blinkiness and programmability. Controllable from any Raspberry Pi or micro-controller.

    Includes:
    • Raspberry Pi Zero W
    • RasPiO Inspiring Driver board pHAT kit
    • RasPiO Inspiring 24-LED Triangle
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    2 backers
    £
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  8. Reward no longer available

    Pledge £75 or more About $93

    early-bird Inspiring Pi Zero W Bundle

    Includes the new Pi Zero W (early-bird only).
    Design your own light display with a variety of the RasPiO inspiring shapes available
    Many RGB LEDs of extreme blinkiness and programmability. Controllable from any Raspberry Pi or micro-controller.

    Includes:
    • RasPiO Inspiring Driver board pHAT kit
    • RasPiO Inspiring 8-LED straight
    • RasPiO Inspiring 24-LED Triangle
    • RasPiO Inspiring 24-LED circle
    • Jumper wires
    • 16× 4-way header
    • Raspberry Pi Zero W
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 111 backers
    £
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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge £76 or more About $94

    Inspiring Bundle

    Design your own light display with a variety of the RasPiO inspiring shapes available
    Many RGB LEDs of extreme blinkiness and programmability. Controllable from any Raspberry Pi or micro-controller.

    Includes:
    • RasPiO Inspiring Driver board pHAT kit
    • RasPiO Inspiring 8-LED straight
    • RasPiO Inspiring 24-LED Triangle
    • RasPiO Inspiring 24-LED circle
    • Jumper wires
    • 16× 4-way header
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    7 backers
    £
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  10. Reward no longer available

    Pledge £80 or more About $99

    promo1 Inspiring Pi Zero W Bundle

    Includes the new Pi Zero W (just like the early-bird).
    Design your own light display with a variety of the RasPiO inspiring shapes available
    Many RGB LEDs of extreme blinkiness and programmability. Controllable from any Raspberry Pi or micro-controller.

    Includes:
    • Raspberry Pi Zero W
    • RasPiO Inspiring Driver board pHAT kit
    • RasPiO Inspiring 8-LED straight
    • RasPiO Inspiring 24-LED Triangle
    • RasPiO Inspiring 24-LED circle
    • 16× 4-way header
    • Jumper wires
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 10 backers
    £
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Funding period

- (31 days)