Sunday, October 14, 2012

Arduino Project: The Conference Panel Part 2

In this Part 2, of The Conference Panel project, I'll look into the actual geometry of the LEDS and ways to shape the display.

Channel Letter from Sign Expo
"Sign Expo #26 - Untitled" by KarmaBlue
Laying out the bare LEDS gave a diffused light with ill-defined edges. Inspired by an art deco lamp and the "cans" used in channel letter neon signage, I added reflective dividers between each lighting segment.

In keeping with the construction methods used in this proof-of-concept model, I just eyeballed the layout and built it up using packing tape and hot glue.
A couple of cardboard jigs, a rotary paper cutter, and three hours of cutting produced enough divider material to box in all the pixels.

I learned a number of things during this process:

Geometry

The LEDs of the first and last spokes should NOT be 180° apart. The geometry should be based on the boundaries, not the LEDs. 
While the seven-spoke design optimized the number of pixels used on the 25 pixel LED strand, it did not allow a 50% vertical line.
This version demonstrates that the Arduino can easily update these pixels fast enough for the displays I have in mind.

I'm planning doubling the number of pixels in the final version, but this layout will make a great testbed while testing the inputs.

Channels

Putting the lights in these "cups" or "channels" makes a huge difference. By not allowing the lights to mix, we get nice crisp edges and a much brighter display.

Construction

The dividers were just made out of doubled-up bright white cover stock. It worked so well that I think I will use this construction in the next version.


Next Steps

Now that I have a working display, I can concentrate on the code and inputs.

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