liightbrush – 0% photoshop

Painting with LEDs and a wiimote

In the neighborhood

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He had to appear at one time or another, here is our friendly neighbor Totoro making a special appearance in my apartment during the latest light painting session:

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Written by liightbrush

16/12/2011 at 23:46

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How it’s done v2

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The liightbrush v2 is an interactive light painting tool. Made of a 1 meter long LED strip, it changes color based on where it is positioned in space according to a user selected picture. You can move the brush along, in whatever orientation/direction, and it will “paint” the global appearance of the target image.

Here is an example of a light painting session, and its result:

There are three main parts to the project:

  • The camera: used to take the pictures, in “bulb” mode in order to have an exposure time as long as necessary, with a remote to make operations simpler. I am currently using a Canon 550D.
  • The wiimote: the most basic part of it all, as it is a standard Nintendo wiimote
  • The computer: bluetooth enabled computer, that receives  from the Wiimote the current position of the liightbrush. A bit of C# code then computes what are the adequate colors to be displayed, and sends them over serial port to the liightbrush
  • The liightbrush itself is a combination of:
    • a LED strip (with by the LPD8806 chip instead of the HL1606 of the first version), allowing control of individual LEDs with a wide spectrum of colors
    • an Arduino Mega, receiving data from the Serial link to the PC and sending it properly to the LED strip. I use the great SPI libraries to pilot the LEDs (http://forums.adafruit.com/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=22982)
    • a bluetooth module connected to the Arduino in order to make the Serial link wireless
    • Infrared emitters, extracted from a wireless Wii sensor bar, placed at each extremity of the liightbrush in order to allow the wiimote to “see” it
    • An aluminum rod, a plastic box, a battery pack, duct tape, bolts and wire

    Written by liightbrush

    16/12/2011 at 23:27

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    Watch Out

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    The design is complete, the software has a brand new GUI to set up the liightpainting, so watch out for a lot of new stuff as soon as I get a minute for it!

    Written by liightbrush

    13/12/2011 at 00:25

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    Malynx!

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    The last bug has been identified (I was sending messages over the serial link simultaneously from separate threads, mixing their data). I now have a fully loaded and operational liightbrush to have fun with. Malynx Le Lynx !

    Written by liightbrush

    23/11/2011 at 23:02

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    Not on a plane

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    It’s done! I now officially have a working version 1 of the liightbrush. I have cut it down to 32 LEDs as I was having issues over that number, but it now works in a fully wireless way. As you can see on the picture below, I would highly recommend against trying to board a place with such a device on yourself 🙂

    Written by liightbrush

    07/11/2011 at 23:55

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    Wireless Squarepants

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    I unfortunately do not have an appartment large enough to use a 2 meters wide lightpainting appartus, but I still managed to run a few tests that are showing great promises, even with some significant day light. It appears that there is a “ghost” duplicate image, I have not figured out yet if that was due to the reflection of the IR emitters, the source image, or my code. I’ll have to look into that in more details.

    Written by liightbrush

    31/10/2011 at 16:52

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    Version 2

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    Took me quite some time, but here is at last v2 of the liightbrush. There are the main improvements:

  • LEDs using the newer LPD8806 chips allowing built in handling of a much wider scope of colors
  • 2 meters long, with 64 LEDs (instead of 8 previously)
  • Wireless bluetooth for serial input
  • Built in IR emiters powerd through the Arduino (ripped from a Nintendo Wii sensor bar)
  • Much optimized Arduino code
  • Foldable aluminium design for easy transportation of the Liightbrush
  • But it is still not over yet as I still need:

  • To power the device without relying on the USB chord (which kinds of defeat the whole bluetooth work)
  • To find a proper material to scatter the LED lights, that are a bit too bright
  • Written by liightbrush

    31/10/2011 at 16:44

    Posted in Uncategorized