The Big Circle 24
The BC24 is a novel use of programmable Pixel LEDs (RGBW programmable) in a perfect 24 segment circle combined with an powerful, highly connected on board computer (WiFi, Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Power) called the ESP32.
Note: We now have BC24 Production units in house and they work!
NEW PROJECT: The Worlds Greatest Nightlight! Solar Powered. See Updates.
What does this allow you to do? You can use the BC24 as the basis of many projects ranging from Internet connected projects to remote displays to full blown weather stations. The possibilities are endless and the BC24 comes with a full set of Grove connectors so you don't even need to solder!
Update: New BC24 Application Released
See the video below:
What is the BC24?
The BC24 is a flexible way to display all sorts of data while being able to communicate with other devices and the Internet. It is a board that you can plug in your sensors and create new things!
The BC24 consists of three major parts:
1) Dual Core CPU ESP32 Central Processor with WiFi and Bluetooth
2) The 24 RGBW Programmable LED Pixel Circle
3) No Solder Grove Connectors for expansion!
The ESP32 is an awesome processor. It has 2 cores in the CPU, lots of memory and has really interesting stuff built in like capacitive touch sensors, a Digital to Analog Converter (think Music out from your BC24!), lots of GPIO (General Purpose Input Output) for your projects and a robust I2C bus for connecting to your sensors.
The RGBW (Red Green Blue White) Pixels are completely programmable (millions of colors) and includes a bright white LED to give you pure warm white. These programmable pixels are 100% compatible with NeoPixels.
The Grove connectors allow you to easily and safely connect hundreds of sensors (and more Pixel strips if you want!) with no soldering. And you CAN'T plug them in backwards. Fewer boards in the Box of Death.
And guess what? All the software is open source and included with the BC24. You can do what you want.
A Short Video of the Design Prototype
What do YOU want to do with the BC24?
Question: Can you Expand the BC24?
Heck Yes! That is what it is designed for. You can add any of hundreds of sensors and motors to the BC24 - it is an open general purpose display and processing platform.
Question: What is in the installed Demo Software?
We have four goodies for you right out of the box.
- Rainblow Display Demo
- Blue Theater Chasing Circle
- Monitor the Dow Jones Average Live!
- Digital LED Clock (synced with NIST clocks for high accuracy)
And all the Open Software Goodness Included!
Question: What are RGBW Pixels?
RGWB Pixels are programmable four LED devices. They have Red, Green, Blue and a warm White LED. You can program each of the four LEDs from 0-255 resulting in millions of colors. The BC24 uses SK6812RGBW chips and they are programmed with a single serial GPIO line. These Pixels are 100% compatible with NeoPixels. This means you can put them together in very long strings. You can either add more strings to the BC24 or even extend the 24 LEDs included with more strips!
Question: What are Grove Connectors?
Grove is a modular, standardized connecter prototyping system. Grove takes a building block approach to assembling electronics. Compared to the jumper or solder based system, it is easier to connect, experiment and build and simplifies the learning system, but not to the point where it becomes dumbed down. Some of the other prototype systems out there takes the level down to building blocks. Good stuff to be learned that way, but the Grove system allows you to build real systems. It requires some learning and expertise to hook things up. Full Grove tutorial here.
Question: What is that hole on the top part of the BC24?
We are tricky little engineers at SwitchDoc Labs. That little hole is just the right size to add our Grove OLED display panel to the BC24. More information for your visual consumption right on the BC24!
Build a Air Quality Detector
Turning the BC24 into a Indoor Air Quality Sensor is simple. We use an Analog Grove Air Quality Sensor and plug it in. Then a bit of software magic and you have a new device! This is an amazingly sensitive sensor. See our article here on this sensor.
Build a Solar Powered Display
You can easily convert the BC24 into a solar powered system by using the SwitchDoc Labs SunControl Solar Power Controller and Data Gathering board along with a LiPo battery and solar panels. Just plug them together using Grove cables. How is that for a fancy night light in your yard!
Build a Weather Station
With the powerful ESP32 processor on the BC24, you can easily build a full weather station using the BC24. See our Reward for just that. Includes Anemometer, Wind Vane, Rain Bucket, Indoor temperature and humidity, outdoor temperature and humidity and a sunlight and UV sensor.
Connect The BC24 to Amazon Alexa
SwitchDoc Labs has connected a variety of their products to the Amazon Alexa system. You can learn how to connect the Raspberry Pi to Alexa here.
SwitchDoc is building the software for the BC24 to connect it up to Alexa. For what? We don't know yet. But we will have fun figuring it out.
Connect to your other DIY Projects
You can easily connect to other devices with the BC24. For example, you can connect to OurWeather (Complete Weather Station Kit) by using the REST interface included with the OurWeather product. The ESP32 has a full WiFi network interface that you can use to connect to virtually anything that has an interface!
Rewards! Rewards! Rewards!
There are three main rewards in our Kickstarter.
3) The BC24 and a full Weather Station
The ESP32 - The Core of the BC24
The ESP32 has a dual processor core. This can increase performance architecturally, for example, because when one processor is handling communication, the other one is in charge of I/O control. This feature will prevent a number of problems that the ESP8266 had with dealing with IO at the same times as communications.
The ESP32 has integrated WIFI, BLUETOOTH, DAC (Digital to Analog Converter - think transmitting waveforms such as audio), several 12 bit ADCs (Analog to Digital Converters), and capacitive touch sensors. And the good news is that maximum Power Consumption is almost the same as ESP8266 (but you have low power modes on the ESP32!).
Following is a block diagram of the ESP32.
Especially Interesting features (look at Power Down Mode!)
- Two Independent Core Processors
- Supports Promiscuous mode, Station, SoftAP and Wi-Fi direct mode
- Max data rate of 150 Mbps@11n HT40, 72 Mbps@11n HT20, 54 Mbps@11g, and 11 Mbps@11b
- Maximum transmit power of 19.5 dBm@11b, 16.5 dBm@11g, 15.5 dBm@11n
- Minimum receiver sensitivity of -97 dBm
- 135 Mbps UDP sustained throughput
- 5 μA power consumption in Deep-sleep
Tell us About the Science behind the BC24
Our beloved CTO, Dr. John Shovic always likes to add a bit of engineering and science theory behind the project, so we let him have his way.
John has this to say about the BC24.
"I'll admit I am a fan of the ESP32 processor that we are using on the BC24. It is such a flexible machine, It has a ton of I/O, which makes it a very flexible chip and makes the BC24 such an innovative project base on which to build. One very interesting thing to point out is the RMT (Remote) piece of hardware on the ESP32. It makes this chip exceptional for driving strings of RGBW Pixels. Pixels require very, very accurate timing to properly control the LEDs. A computer like the Raspberry Pi can't do this using GPIO lines because of the multitasking nature of the Raspian operating system. Too many things interrupting the processor. There are some work arounds with the Raspberry Pi, but you can do the timing natively with an Arduino, that really doesn't have an operating system. The ESP32 is somewhere between these two extremes since the ESP32 has an operating system to drive the WiFi and Bluetooth communication stacks. Much simpler, but it still gets in the way of things. When we were developing the first version of the BC24 software we ran into the "LED 19" problem which is where LED 19 would flicker and not always be set to the right value.
This has to do with the interrupts in the ESP32 (about every 1 millisecond) which will slightly scramble the Pixel timing. This turns out to be LED 19 in an RGBW system and somewhere around LED 25 in an RGB system.
How did we get around that? We modified and then used a driver that utilizes the RMT (Infrared Remote hardware) that can generate a precise timing and data sequence without using the CPU at all. Totally magic. Works rock solid now.
Enjoy the BC24. You will be seeing it pop up in a bunch of projects here at SwitchDoc Labs. Stay tuned."
Risks and challenges
The primary risk in this project is that of schedule. It is important to note that SwitchDoc Labs is already committed to bringing this products to market, so this kickstarter can be viewed as a low risk item. You do get a great price break, however!
Our software drivers and documentation for the BC24 are under development and will be released during the Kickstarter.
The BC24 prototype boards are in house and working, and partially tested. We should be releasing the production version before the end of May. If we make our production release, the full production prototype units will be due in mid June. If the production board is a first timer, we will be shipping rewards in June. If we need a turn (always a possibility on a board that has analog components), then we will be shipping in July.
SwitchDoc Labs has already successfully completed eleven kickstarters and all rewards were substantially shipped on time. It's a good record and we don't want to do any less on this kickstarter.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (20 days)