Tag Archives: LED

Mstick is multi-functional, app-enabled LED stick

This is not your ordinary LED light! 

Light has its practical uses of illuminating a space and signaling. It could also be used recreationally for mood lighting and sound visualizing. Up until now, those seemed like the few functions of light in everyday life. However, one Oregon-based startup had something else in mind. The MOLT team has reimagined its usage and capabilities by creating a smart LED stick that could be used in ways never thought of before.


Mstick is an easy-to-use LED device that can function as a bicycle rear light, text visualizer, stop watch, weather forecast, flash alarm, and more. Who knew a light can do so much? Controlled from a modular app, Mstick operates various functional lights with ready to use and customizable settings, making it suitable for any situation.

With the app, you can select the function you need, and the Mstick light will work accordingly. Suppose you’re riding a bicycle or running at night. Select the “Sports Light” setting, and personalize the light animation and color of your choice. When mounted to you or your bike, the Mstick notices your movements with its three-axis accelerometer and will automatically change the animation and color to red when you’re stopped.


The Mstick is guaranteed to also be a crowd pleaser when used at a festival or party. The “After Effect” category allows you to type in text or emoji, and the light stick will illuminate your message when you wave it. When employed as an alarm or timer, you can program Mstick to flash a certain color or animation when the time is up.

By giving you a light meant to be used daily for multiple functions, the Mstick team knew they had to make a simple, convenient and durable product. The stick body measures at the portable size of 160mm x 26mm x 16 mm, and comes with a leather strap and built-in magnet to make Mstick hang or attach anywhere easily. Based on a 32-bit Cortex-M0+ core, the gadget is equipped with 16 RGB LED lights (120 lumen), Bluetooth Low Energy (2.4 GHz), a G-sensor (three-axis gyroscope and three-axis accelerometer), and a LiPo battery that offers at last seven hours of use at max brightness and up to a week with low brightness. Mstick is compatible with a majority of smartwatches for simple tasks, as well as most Android and iPhone devices.


Looking to light up your life in more ways than one? Head over to Mstick’s Kickstarter campaign, where the MOLT team is closing in on their $50,000 goal. The first batch of units is expected to ship sometime in April 2016.

Transform your swimming pool into an LED dance floor

This Maker covered his swimming pool with Rainbowduino-powered LEDs to create one heck of a dance floor.  

Like something straight out of Saturday Night Fever, Loren Bufanu has managed to transform his swimming pool into an LED-laden dance floor. And from the looks of its surrounding environment filled with garnished chairs and tables, it would appear to be for a wedding or party of some sort.


To accomplish this feat, the Maker covered the pool with several glass panels, each outfitted with LEDs. Inspired by the Lampduino on Instructables, the project required nearly 450 meters of RGB LED strips controlled by two Rainbowduinos (ATmega328), driven by 64 power MOSFETs, 64 transistors, 64 bipolar transistors, a few capacitors and some resistors. Producing white light from the LEDs drew 8A from the power supply.

Although he originally thought to use the Colorduino as embedded in the Lampduino, he was unable to find a way to connect two of the boards together and control them with the same interface. So instead, he turned to a pair of Rainbowduino v3.0, which are pin compatible with the Colorduinos and can communicate over I2C. For those unfamiliar with these boards from Seeed Studio, the Arduino-compatible MCU features two MY9221 chips, which are capable of handling 12 channels of Adaptive Pulse Density Modulation.


In terms of software, the Maker used Pixel Invaders. Unfortunately, this portion of the project didn’t come as easy as the hardware installation. Bufanu had wanted the lights to flash in sync with some tunes, but a few setbacks in program didn’t allow for this to work. In the end, he decided to employ some simple visualization software combined with the Pixel Invaders “Screen Capture” mode. Fortunately, that did the trick.

“Basically, MilkDrop-like software is displaying some colors on the screen, and Pixel Invaders capture the screen, controlling the two Raibowduino after that pattern. Both are started by a simple batch file located on the desktop of the controlling PC. It was a ‘ugly hack’ but it is doing the job great,” Bufanu explains.

Intrigued? Head over to the Maker’s original page here, or simply see it in action below.

[h/t Hackaday]

Build your own Arduino-compatible, remote-controlled lights

Maker hacks his own Arduino-compatible, Philips Hue-like bulbs with LYT and Souliss.

Looking to control the multi-colored lights in your home? Sure, you could always go out and buy your own set of Philips Hue bulbs. Or, you can do what a Dario Di Maio has done and build your own that plugs into a standard light socket. As the Maker points out, while smart LEDs have become quite common today, none have been Arduino-compatible.


For this project, the Maker used the Authometion LYT — an ATmega88PA powered RGBW LED bulb with an Arduino shield as a gateway, which enabled him to freely create his own custom behaviors and code. Both the Arduino and shield run the Souliss framework, while the lights are controlled through the Souliss App.

The shield is equipped with two radio modules, an ESP8266 Wi-Fi SoC that connects the Arduino with the home router and a PL1167 2.4 GHz transceiver wired to the Atmel MCU to control the bulbs. (Di Maio recommends either the Uno and Leonardo.)

Meanwhile, the ESP8266 and the Arduino are linked via USART. According to Di Maio, you can download the necessary libraries and examples from the Authometion store. These allow you to bridge command over Wi-Fi to the USART and then to the PL1167.


“We will run two instances of Souliss, one on the ESP8266 and the other on the Arduino board, this because Souliss embedded the communication between different nodes and this let us skip the writing of a custom code to link these two devices,” Di Maio writes.

The bulb itself is a 9W RGBW LED, which generally should fit in most lamps with an E27 plug. The Maker provides an elaborate breakdown of his project along with the necessary code on his page here.

This Luigi LEGO portrait lights up and plays Super Mario Bros. music

This mosaic LEGO portrait of Super Mario Bros. sprites is comprised of LED panels, transistors and an ATmega328. 

By now, we’re sure you’ve come across at least one of Maker Baron von Brunk’s amazing LEGO projects. From his Starmen to Dry Bones sprites, and everything in between, the talented and quirky New York artist continues to impress us with his LED-flashing, nostalgic chiptunes-playing Super Mario Bros. creations.


Added to his growing list is the Illuminated Mosaic Musical Luigi, which combines the polyphonic sound code from his electronic Dry Bones sprites along with the structural functionality of his illuminated mosaic Link portrait. In this new project, von Brunk uses a grid of flat LED panels fastened onto a rear door, with a 16Ω speaker attached as well. Controlling the whole circuit is a homemade circuit board based on an ATmega328P that contains an Arduino code for playing the Super Mario Bros. “level complete” theme and activating the lights.

“The biggest technological feat for this project is how I successfully managed to control the 12V LED panels through a small 5.5V AVR, through the help of transistors. In layman’s terms, a small microcontroller like the ATmega328 is only capable of controlling circuits between 3-5.5V; anything else will burn out the chip. By using transistors attached to the digital outputs of the ATmega, I can control much larger loads, with the overall 12V input power being directed into the circuit via a voltage regulator,” the artist explains.

As for the LEGO portion of the project, it was rather straightforward and fortunately didn’t present any obstacles along the way. Towards the tail-end, though, the Maker did have to slightly tweak the mosaic in order to use a small tactile button to trigger the circuit. Originally, he had a large momentary pushbutton installed near the bottom of the rear door, but the button required too much pressure to push, which caused the structure to wobble and almost fall over when pressed.


“Creating the circuit board and wiring the Arduino code was also rather simple, since I used the same functionality of the Dry Bones model. Unfortunately, when I was testing out the method of using transistors for controlling the LED panels, I accidentally loaded the 12V power into my Arduino Uno’s 5.5V input — thus frying it. After purchasing a new Arduino, I successfully did some breadboard experiments with TIP120 transistors to control the LED panels,” he adds.

What’s cool is that the LEGO structure opens like a book, and on the back door are eight white SMD LED panels connected in parallel to three digital output pins of the ATmega328P — cathode to cathode, with the red positive wires being channeled into the positive terminal of the 12V power supply. For sound output, von Brunk created some makeshift speaker holes atop the right orange brick sprite. This was achieved by placing LEGO grille tiles over headlight pieces.

Reading about the portrait is one thing, but seeing it in all of its glory is a whole ’nother story. Intrigued? Be sure to head over to its official page here.

This fiber optic dress is amplified by a wearer’s thoughts

This EEG-powered dress shines red when alert and green when relaxed.

Rain Ashford has been tinkering around with EEG-enabled wearable devices for quite some time now. In fact, she is in the midst of wrapping up her doctoral thesis. As part the process, the Maker has created a rather slick, interactive dress as a fun way to display engagement and moods in crowded situations, particularly those so noisy that hearing someone speak is virtually impossible.


The aptly named ThinkerBelle EEG Amplifying Dress uses a NeuroSky Mindwave Mobile EEG headset to collect brain information and relay that data to her garment to non-verbally communicate with those nearby. Ultimately, this leaves it up to observers to make their own interpretations from the brilliant spectacle.

“I created this dress in response to a subsection of feedback data from my field trials and focus groups, which investigated the functionality, aesthetics and user experience of wearables and in particular wearer and observer feedback on experiences with my EEG Visualising Pendant,” Ashford writes.


The dress was constructed out of satin fabric and fiber optic filament woven into an organza. The EEG headset collects and amplifies data in the form of two separate streams — attention and meditation — which are sent over via Bluetooth and visualized on the top layer of the dress through a series of LEDs. The illumination is controlled by an Adafruit Pro Trinket (ATmega328): red light signifies attention while green denotes a state of relaxation.

“The dress is constructed so the two streams of data light overlap and interweave. The fiber optic filament is repositionable allowing the wearer to make their own lighting arrangements and dress design,” she adds.

What’s more, the wearable project features a variety of modes, one in which lets the user record and playback the data. This means someone can design a combination of color and lights on the dress, then replay it after taking off the EEG headpiece. This enables the wearer to come across as though he or she is concentrating or relaxed to those around.


“Why would someone want to do that? Think of this much like a lie detector test. Sometimes you want people to know how you feel, and other times you would rather keep your thoughts to yourself. So, in this case if you want to appear calm even though you are really agitated, you can just have the dress display a previous calm time period,” the Adafruit crew explains.

Pretty cool, right? Check the project out in its entirety on Ashford’s page here. Not for nothing, the blend of these two colors makes for one heck of Christmas attire!

Playing larger-than-life Pong on a NYC storefront

Play Array takes gaming out of the computer and into the real world.

New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) has collaborated with design agency Urban Matter Inc. to develop an interactive storefront based on the retro arcade game Pong. The project was initially conceived as a way to make retail windows a bit more engaging, all while creating a more fun, vibrant city in general.


The aptly dubbed Play Array enables those passing by to interact with a larger-than-life, 6 x 8 pixel grid display comprised of 18.5” bulbs illuminated by ultra-bright NeoPixel rings. Upon approaching the store, each player is prompted to connect to the domain Playpong.me and assigned either an LED-lit green or purple paddle, which they control by tilting their smartphone almost in race car-like fashion. After five misses, however, the game ends.


Every horizontal row is driven by a brain pixel that is responsible for handling the LEDs in itself and the other seven pixels within its line. The brain pixel is powered by an Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega328), which receives its instructions via an Ethernet module and commands its set of LEDs. Meanwhile, the game server is built upon Node.js software and communicates with the controller pixels using customized Open Sound Control.

This Wi-Fi-enabled touch light lets you stay connected with loved ones

This smart lamp gives users a decorative yet unobtrusive way to stay connected with the people they care for the most.

Picture this: A grandparent touches a lamp. Immediately, their grandchild who happens to be hundreds of miles away sees their light change. Not only does this enable the kid to know grandpa is thinking of him, the child can also respond back by placing their hand on the device as well. Or perhaps, you have a partner in the military and want a quick reassurance that they are okay.   The possibilities are endless.


With the rise of the Internet of Things (not to mention more grandparents moving to Boca Raton or Scottsdale), a new decorative light will be able to connect loved ones without ever having to pick up the phone. Dubbed Filimin, the gadget connects with other Filimins via Wi-Fi and changes colors when touched. Once this occurs, other lamps within its network will also match the color anywhere in the world at the speed of the Internet.

Filimins provide a simple, beautiful alternative to the noise of communication we all experience every day in our pile of emails, messages and seemingly never-ending social notifications. The smart lamps have one job and one job only: to reach out to those we care about without texting, reading or dialing. This is ideal for when you’ve got nothing to say and a simple gesture lets someone know you’re thinking of them.

How it works is pretty straightforward. Touch the Filimin once and it will glow one of hundreds of possible hues. Touch it again and the color will vary slightly. Continue tapping to find a color that best suits your expression.


Each Filimin is powered 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 based MCU along with a wireless module. This convergence of technology allows the device to easily be configured and operate independently from smartphones and laptop computers. Meanwhile, the series of RGB LEDs embedded within each Filimin are capable of emitting millions of colors and are designed to last the life of the product.

“Since Filimin communicates with no words, you and the people you care about get to choose the meaning of your interaction. Maybe you want to tell your friend that you’re ready to meet at your favorite hangout. Maybe you want to tell your cousin overseas that it’s an ok time for a video chat. Perhaps somebody you care about is in the hospital and you want to let them know you are thinking of them,” creator John Harrison explains.

In today’s always-on-the-go world, it’s often difficult to keep in touch with those you care about most. What’s nice about tho smart device is that it could be a continuous presence, even in times that you don’t have time or anything to share. Sound like a decorative yet functional piece you’d love to have at home? Head over to Filimin’s Kickstarter page, where the team is currently seeking $50,000. Shipment is expected to kick off in December 2015 — just in time to wish your loved ones happy holidays with some festive red and green lights.

Maker creates a 3D-printed LED watch with ATmega328P

Hey, do you know what Tinys.it? 

The first digital watch, a Pulsar prototype, was developed jointly by Hamilton Watch Company and Electro-Data back in 1970. Finally launched in the spring of 1972, the device was comprised of 18-carat gold and featured a red light-emitting diode (LED) display. Watches with LED displays would remain popular for a few years until being superseded by LCDs, which consumed less battery power and boasted an always-visible display that didn’t require any button-pushing to reveal the time.


Inspired by these retro watches, Alessandro Matera recently created his own 3D-printed LED device based on an ATmega328P and powered by a 3V CR2032 battery. The Maker initially wanted to use the versatile ATtiny85 MCU from his Tinys board as the brains of the operation, but was unable to do so given the limited number of I/O and LEDs that it could drive. Instead, he decided to go with an ATmega328P in TQFP package with 32 pins.

The wearable unit sports 32 LEDs to display the time in both hours and minutes. Since he was unable to use two differently colored lights, a solid light denotes hours while a blinking represents minutes.

“But even if the microcontroller has 32 pins, they aren’t all I/O: only 25 pins can be used for the 32 LEDs and the button. To drive a larger number of LEDs with few pins, I’ve used the Charlieplexing Matrix. This way, I can drive 6 LEDs with only 3 pins.”


In an effort to reduce battery drain, the watch always remains in sleep mode. Just like vintage LED watches, a user must press a button to show the time. To ensure accuracy, Matera used a 32.768 KHz crystal connected to the XTAL pin of the ATmega328P running in asynchronous timing mode. This enabled him to use the MCU’s internal 8Mhz oscillator and the Timer2 overflow (used for the external crystal) as interrupt to increase the seconds. The Maker reveals that dealing with the crystal to get precise time and also multiplexing the LEDs were certainly among the trickiest aspects of the design process.

“After setting up the Timer2 overflow interrupt and the button change-pin interrupt, the microcontroller goes to sleep. Every time the Timer2 goes overflow (one overflow/second), the microcontroller wakes up and increases the seconds,” he writes.


Upon seeing this marvelous DIY timepiece, our friends at Adafruit caught up with Matera. Turns out, he loved their ATmega328P based Solder Time II watch that he used that as the benchmark for his design. However, he was looking for something a bit different and could only find segment LED styles. So just as any Maker would do, he devised his own. While he may have a fully-functioning prototype at the moment, moving ahead he may look to shifting the programming to FTDI and changing the button to a touch sensor.

Time to make your own? Head over to its official project page here, as well as download its sketch and schematics on Github.

This ‘ICONIC’ coffee table book is powered by AVR

Just in time for the holiday season, Jonathan Zufi’s coffee table book entitled “ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation” recounts the past 30 years of Apple design, exploring some of the most visually appealing and significant products ever created by the Cupertino-based company. The book — which features a number of new photos paying special attention to original prototypes — dons an updated look and comes in a few special editions.


Most notably, the Ultimate Edition includes a special white clamshell case along with a custom PCB designed to pulse embedded LEDs like that of a sleeping older generation Apple notebook when moved.

According to its description, “The circuit is powered by the high-performance, low-power Atmel 8-bit AVR RISC-based microcontroller which combines 1KB ISP flash memory, 32B SRAM, 4 general purpose I/O lines, 16 general purpose working registers, a 16-bit timer/counter with two PWM channels, internal and external interrupts, programmable watchdog timer with internal oscillator, an internal calibrated oscillator, and 4 software selectable power saving modes.”


“The board and clamshell were designed to make removal of the board easy for the purpose of enabling and replacing the battery. The battery is a standard watch cell CR2032. Based on our calculations, the LED should pulse approximately 9,000 times during the life of an average CR2032. Since the LED pulses three times on each movement cycle, that means that it unless you plan on picking up the book more than 3000 times, the battery should last a long time. But because it’s so cool, we think that you might actually reach that number — so we made it very easy to swap out the battery.”

An ideal gift for any Apple buff, those interested in learning more or buying the AVR powered book for a loved one can do so here.

The smartest toy for your feline friend hits Kickstarter

Did you know nearly 6 in 10 domestic cats are overweight? Led by University of Illinois PhD student Dave Cohen, a group of Illinois-based cat lovers Makers have created a purrrr-fect way to combat the growing feline epidemic by designing a robotic “pet for your cat.”


The startup, aptly named Petronics, has been working on various iterations of Mousr. Capable of tracking the movements of your cat and reacting the way a real mouse would, the end result is the recommended 20 minutes per day of exercise for your feline friend.

The latest iteration of Petronics’ Mousr — which has now made its Kickstarter debut — is equipped with an infrared LED light along with a sensor which measures the overall level of ambient IR light surrounding the device. The team notes that if Mousr is near an object, the LED light is reflected back and detected by the ambient light sensor, activating the device. Directional motion sensors then allow Mousr to interact with and respond to a cat, and are “sophisticated enough to know the difference between running, stalking and pouncing.”

“This has the potential to autonomously keep cats active for the recommended time in instances where the owners can’t take time out of their schedule,” Cohen explained.


The most recent version of Mousr even features multi-color eyes, a hidden speaker and interchangeable tails.

“We really wanted Mousr to be as small and fast as possible, but we also wanted him to have personality. We have been working with several designers and engineers with a lot of experience in order to ensure Mousr’s industrial design will be able to handle all our physical and technological requirements while remaining sleek and cute,” a company rep writes.

Prior to the inception of the prototype, Cohen had been working on a proof-of-concept sensor management system to keep the power consumption levels of camera-embedded devices low, achieved by only running and activating the cameras when necessary. Therefore, he decided to use the same technology — which is akin to those used in wildlife monitoring — to create a device “that could intelligently utilize coarse, low-power motion sensor data in order to dictate when to collect more informative, power-hungry camera data.”


“I decided to explore other motion sensor ideas in the pet space and eventually came up with Mousr. I discovered that there is nothing else like it in the marketplace.”

Cohen had decided to share the idea with a Fetch! Pet Care, a company providing house care for owners away on vacation, who immediately agreed there was a void in the market for such a creation.

While the proof-of-concept had been successful, the next phase in the process was creating a prototype that resembled a real product, all while able to be produced at a reasonable cost. Cohen applied for funding through the Cozad Innovation Prize and was fortunate enough to have HAXLR8R as mentors, a program based in China that helps startup hardware companies move forward.

“Many investors tend to shy away from hardware companies in favor of software-based startups because of the complexities involved in the logistics of the supply chain, manufacturing, packaging and distribution. But with advancements in [Atmel powered] 3D printing, rapid prototyping, and emerging programs like HAXLR8R, the barriers to entry for hardware startups are rapidly diminishing,” Cohen concludes.

After first tweeting about this innovation, the Petronics team posed a very interesting question: If you could hack our robot mouse, what’s the first thing you would make it do? 

Well, Makers… what would you make it do?