February 2012

ShiftBrite Lightboard

I met the Macetech guys at Makerfaire 2009 in San Mateo and picked up a number of ShiftBrites.  This was my first of several multi-RGB LED projects.  I decided to array the 16 Shift Brites I had into a 4x4 matrix on a piece of 24"x24" inch plywood (one of the sizes that comes precut at stores like Home Depot).  I evenly spaced a grid of 16 holes just big enough for the ShiftBrite LEDs to poke through.The second photo shows the back side of the board where the ShiftBrite chain can be clearly seen (data is shifted down the chain to provide color values for each LED).  I found the easiest way to fasten the ShiftBrites was with pieces of zip tie that could be firmly stapled across each board keeping them firmly in position.  I used velcro to hold an Arduino in place with its ShiftBrite shield.  Frankly the hardest part was just spacing the holes.The photo and videos below show a simple initial pattern I programmed. It starts by sweeping through all the LEDs sequentially, then it go through fading up and down in red, green, and blue followed by random white flashes of the LEDs.
It looks pretty amazing in a darkened room (and that's just with ShiftBrites... MegaBrites would be brighter yet).  Some interesting effects can be generated if the lightboard is used under or near other objects.  I placed a Tensegritoy on top, for instance.  This results in some interesting patterns being displayed all around a darkened room -- particularly as different LEDs at different positions on the board illuminate over time -- creating the shifting patterns.  I'd like to try a circular layout as well.