Tag Archives: Adafruit Feather

LED Bridge Lamp Electronics

For me, building the electronics for the LED Bridge Lamp was one of the most fun parts of the project.  It was an opportunity to build upon the skills I learned from earlier/simpler projects and create a really fun display/art project.

Circuit Design

The first step was figuring out the details of the circuit. To do this breadboarded the circuit and worked out the details. The resistors in the circuit are to protect the first LEDs on the strip data lines and the large capacitors help smooth out the power from the power supply.

Testing the bridge section LEDs
Testing the bridge section LEDs

 

You can find the Fritzing generated circuit diagram here:

Circuit Diagram for my LED Bridge Lamp
Circuit Diagram for my LED Bridge Lamp

Here’s what I used to build the electronics for this project:

Parts List (Quantities reflect sets/packages from the related links):

Assembly 

With the design in hand, the next step was assemble the bases and solder everything.  For the purposes of differentiating them in a succinct way I will refer to the base with the Adafruit Feather Huzzah Micro-controller in it as the ‘Smart’ base and I will refer to the base that only has power inject in it as the ‘Dummy’ base.

Here you can see a full assembled base complete with the 90lb strength magnets that will keep the bridge perched in place over my cubicle walls at work. (You can learn more about building this base in my earlier post here)

90lb Strength Magnets integrated into the base
90lb Strength Magnets integrated into the base

For the panel mount connectors I made sure they fit into the printed holes in the side of the base. I put one of the male connectors into the panel mount connector to keep everything lined up as I soldered (the plastic in there melts easily). I also put heat shrink tubing over the connectors.

Use heat shrink tubing to protect the soldered connections. TIP: Put a mail connector in the female connector when soldering to keep the plastic from deforming.
Use heat shrink tubing to protect the soldered connections. TIP: Put a mail connector in the female connector when soldering to keep the plastic from deforming.

 

The “Smart” Base

Next up was translating the bread-boarded circuit to a perma-proto board. I used female headers so I could remove/replace/upgrade the micro-controller in the future if  wanted to.

Adafruit Huzzah 8266 in headers on soldered half size permanently-proto board
Adafruit Huzzah 8266 in headers on soldered half size permanently-proto board

The circuit itself is pretty simple/straightforward.

Underside of assembled half size permanent-proto board which hosts the Huzzah
Underside of assembled half size permanent-proto board which hosts the Huzzah

With the panel mount connection inserted through the top curved section of the base and secured with its included nut, I soldered its wire to the permanent-proto board. I used about a foot of wire so I had plenty of space to work with when the setup is semi-assembled as shown below.

Soldering the power cable to the perm-proto board AFTER it was inserted through the bridge lamp base.
Soldering the power cable to the perm-proto board AFTER it was inserted through the bridge lamp base.

Next up I secured the permanent-proto board to the electronics tray/base. I wrapped the excess wire that around the magnet supports to provide strain relief to the soldered joints. The additional wires below are the wires that least to JST connectors which will provide a modular linking to the LED strips in the bridge.

Wrap excess wire around magnet supports to provide strain relieve and protect your soldered joints.
Wrap excess wire around magnet supports to provide strain relieve and protect your soldered joints.

With everything assembled it should look nice and clean and orderly as shown below:

Underside of completed 'smart' base
Underside of completed ‘smart’ base

For the USB cable I drilled a whole in the side of the riser block with a brad point drill bit and inserted the USB cable. I wrapped that cable around the magnet supports to provide strain relief here as well.

Underside of completed 'smart' base with USB cable routed
Underside of completed ‘smart’ base with USB cable routed]

The completed based is just about done.

Assembled base section (close up)
Assembled base section (close up)

I also inserted M4 Button Top machine screws to secure the top and bottom sections of the base. They self tap a bit into the plastic and hold well. They also allow me to disassemble the setup easily from the outside.

Button head machine screws used to connect top/curved have of base to the electronics tray
Button head machine screws used to connect top/curved have of base to the electronics tray

The “Dummy” Base

The “Dummy” base is largely the same procedure as the “Smart” base with the exception being that this side does not have a micro-controller — it simply injects power at the mid point of the LED light strips — without this it would look like the LED strips brown out about midway across the bridge.  The large capacitors used in this project are to protect the LED strips and smooth out the power they receive.

Dummy base with power injection. Leave extra wire so you can remove the curved section as needed.
Dummy base with power injection. Leave extra wire so you can remove the curved section as needed.

I followed the same methods of assembly, soldering, cable wrapping etc.

Underside of completed 'Dummy' base
Underside of completed ‘Dummy’ base

Cabling

Between each base and the bridge assembly and between each of the 3 bridge sections I used JST connectors for power and data (See photo below). I would build each male and female section, test the connections and then solder them into place.

JST connectors and crimper
JST connectors and crimper

I liked the idea of everything being modular but in hindsight almost feel it was more trouble than it was worth. I found myself still having to debug a bunch of these wire connections as the JSTs seem to have  a little play in the connections so if the wires are bent up — say when trying to cram those connections into the bridge superstructure sometimes the connection would open up.

When soldering my larger panavise was helpful in holding things in place so I could solder the JST connected wires to the LED strips.

Larger pane-vise was helpful in holding the assembly when I had to solder on the wires connected to the JST connectors
Larger pane-vise was helpful in holding the assembly when I had to solder on the wires connected to the JST connectors

Shown below is a completed base with the JST connectors showing.

Assembled base section with taller riser and micro controller. Note the USB cable coming out through a drilled hole in the riser.
Assembled base section with taller riser and micro controller. Note the USB cable coming out through a drilled hole in the riser.

Testing

With everything in place it was time to test the full circuit. This is where the extra wire on the JST cabling in the base came in handy. I could lay the bridge out on my dining room table and test the circuit and work out the software. Also it was nerdy fun to be effectively sitting inside this light ring in a dark room.

  • Testing the bridge flat on the table
    Testing the bridge flat on the table

    Once I got everything working it was time to pack it up and bring it to the office. Given the headaches with the JST connectors I brought the bridge section in as 1 completed piece rather than breaking it down into segments and testing all the connections again.  It filled the whole bed of my pickup truck but survived the ride.

Completed bridge assembly in the back of my pickup truck ready for delivery
Completed bridge assembly in the back of my pickup truck ready for delivery

The next post in this series will be related to the software.

You can navigate back to the Enhanced LED Bridge Lamp Summary here. 

Take care,
-Bill Rainford
@TinWhiskerzBlog
@TheRainford

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LED Bridge Lamp Summary

As an engineer I love all things that are shiny and blinky. Like many other engineers I am a cubicle dweller. I wanted to create something in my cube that would brighten up my workspace and make me smile whenever I’m working there. What follows is a series of posts that will guide you through how I designed and built my version of the LED Bridge Lamp which is based off of the LED Bridge Lamp (Universal Segment) by my friend Janis (Opossums) Jakaitis on Thingiverse here. It was a great looking project and would be the perfect addition to any cubicle in need of some blinky.

Side view of my LED Bridge Lamp running a rainbow animation.
Side view of my LED Bridge Lamp running a rainbow animation.

High Level Summary of Changes:

  • Universal Segment Bridge Lamp with 2 horizontal (straight) sections
  • Custom mini light up billboard at the top of the bridge
  • Custom light shades with enclosed channels
  • Custom designed bases with integrated 90lb magnets and adjustable heights for uneven surfaces
  • Custom wifi enabled electronics to control the display
  • Custom power supply with enclosure
  • Each LED strip (2 in the bridge and 1 in the sign) an be controlled independently

 

LED Bridge Lamp Animations Video on Vimeo

LED Bridge Lamp Animations Video on YouTube

3D Models

You can find the 3D models I used to build this project on Thingiverse here. They are free to download, use and modify.

How long did this take to build?

  • Base Height Spacer Tall (Qty 1) 6:40 min (PLA)
  • Base Height Spacer (Qty 1) 2:07 min (PLA)
  • Base Side (Qty 2) 4:15 min each (PLA)
  • Base Side With Power Outlet (Qty 2) 4:15 min each (PLA)
  • Base Center (Qty 2) 5:09 min each (PLA)
  • Base Plate Mama with Cable Hole (Qty 2) 49 min each (PLA)
  • Base Cap Plate (Qty 2) 1:12 min each (PLA)
  • Clips (Qty 3) 10 min each (PLA)
  • Base Height Extension (Qty 2) 3:07 min each (PLA)
  • Electronics Tray (Qty 2) 4:06min (PLA)
  • Magnet Space Filler Block (Qty 2) 1:06 min each (PLA)
  • Sign Holder (Qty 1) 54 min (PLA)
  • LED Light Channel Segment A (Qty 14) 1:33 min each (nGen)
  • LED Light Channel Segment A with Wire Cutout (Qty 2) 1:32 min each (nGen)
  • LED Light Channel Segment B (Qty 16) 1:33 min each (nGen)
  • Straight LED Light Channel with Cover  (Qty 2) 2:47 min each (nGen)
  • Universal Segment Curved Superstructure Set (Qty 16) 2:42 min each (PLA)
  • Universal Segment Straight Superstructure Set (Qty 2) 2:25 min each (PLA) — light channel from set deleted for this print

Total Number of Pieces: 74
Total Print Time: 145 hours!

Estimated 3D Modeling/Design Time: 50 hrs 
Estimated Assembly Time: 12 hrs
Estimated Coding Time: 4 hrs
Estimated Testing Time: 12 hrs

Total Time:  223 hours 

NOTE: The above does not include printing another 25 segments of straight superstructure and light shades, misprints, having 8 segments of assembled PLA superstructure melt by being too close to a radiator, test prints and re-prints. I estimate that I have something around 300 hours into this project.

Build Details (This section will be updated as I publish more related posts):

Take care,
-Bill
@TinWhiskerzblog

For additional posts related to this project check out this the ‘LED Bridge Lamp’ tag. I’ll be adding more posts giving details on how I built my version of the LED Bridge Lamp.

Adafruit Feather BLE + NeoPixel Lamp

Like any red blooded engineer I like nice designs, shiny objects and blinking lights. One of the projects that burrowed its way into my subconscious and helped push me over the edge into buying a 3D printer earlier this year was the Adafruit Feather BLE + NeoPixel lamp with 3D printed Voronoi Shade that plays some animations by the Ruiz Brothers over at Adafruit. It’s a great addition to any office desk or maker workbench. After playing with the sample code which simply played a short animation when you pressed a button in the app I decided to augment the code to continuously play animations and add a few more to the mix.

Feather BLE light paired with iOS app
Feather BLE light paired with iOS app

You can view detailed step/by step instructions on printing this lamp  here on the Adafruit Learning System.  What follows in this post is a description of what changes/modifications I made to the build and additional functionality I added into the software running on the Bluefruit Feather.

Check out this video showing what I did with the software for this project here:

Software Revision Highlights:

  • Currently selected animation will loop continuously without interruption (Original sample plays 1 animation and stops until another button is pressed)
  • Cleaned up animation library/methods, fixed some issues with Adafruit sample code and finished off some incomplete methods
  • Added additional animations to the up, down, left and right buttons in the Adafruit Bluetooth application

You can find the source code for the demo used in the video here on GitHub.

3D Print complete, not gather up the required electronics
3D Print complete, now gather up the required electronics

Notes on Building This Project: 
I printed the base out of ABS filament and the Voronoi shade from light blue translucent PLA filament. I chose not to glue the shade onto the top ring of the base as I like to be able to show off the electronics. I friction fit the clear disk into the bottom of the lampshade so it stays securely as one piece. I also omitted the battery as I only plan to run the lamp in an office setting wherein I have access to plenty of USB ports.

Solder and assemble the light
Solder and assemble the light

BIG NOTE: As this caused me some headaches and wasted time. In the Adafruit Learning System write-up for this lamp, make sure to follow the Fritzing circuit diagram here and NOT from the step by step photograph here. The photograph shows one of the blue wires going into ‘BAT’ and not the expected ‘3V’. You should be powering the NeoPixels off the 3V pin.  

Flash the firmware and test the rig before final assembly of the case.
Flash the firmware and test the rig before final assembly of the case.

Once I finished all the soldering I fit the board, wires and ring into the bottom half of the base and flashed the firmware onto the device and made sure it lit up and worked as expected.

Lid screwed in place to help secure the NeoPixel ring
Lid screwed in place to help secure the NeoPixel ring

Next up I screwed on the top half of the base and started working on the animations I wanted to use and assigned them to various buttons in the Adafruit ‘Bluefruit’ application.

Running animations
Running animations

Last up was testing the completed lamp. It lights up a dark room more that I expected which is nice and is clearly visible in a well lit room. Some of the animations in the above video are far better in person as the DSLR tends to blend a lot of the mixed colors into shades of white — you’ll have to see it in person by building your own.

Red alert, incoming message
Red alert, incoming message

With the above lamp completed you can also tie it into the IfThisThenThat (IFTTT.com) ecosystem via Adafruit IO.  IFTTT allows Internet of Things (IoT) devices to react to a surprisingly large amount of interesting stimuli — if you get a certain type of email, if your phone shows up on your home wifi network, if an IoT sensor gets a certain reading your device and react to that message and carry out your desired task — its an incredible system and will be the focus of my next post, stay tuned.

-Bill
@TinWhiskerzBlog

P.S. If you build your own variant of this project, please leave a comment and share your thoughts and modifications.