19 October 2015

Henderizer v2, accelerometer controlled LED dance suit (1 of 2)

I just wrapped up a mostly successful endeavor of creating a second version of my original accelerometer-controlled LED dance suit for a friend's wedding. Actually, make that creating 8 of them. The goal was 10, but unfortunately a garage project from hell (mostly being a slave to it until I had a roof back on it) got me a late start and I fell short. 8/10 was still enough to make a nice splash at the wedding, though! Here's how it turned out :)

And here's a slightly more "controlled" demo of the various modes (one I added after the wedding). I love the look of the strips under a shirt. Diffusing the light is definitely the way to go in my opinion.

Originally, I planned on using suspenders, but couldn't figure out a way to deal with pinning an inflexible LED strip reliably to the stretchy straps. I feared they would either get pulled on too much, or when someone bent over the LED strip would "bulge" out due to the slack. Near the deadline, I had an idea to use magnets to pin the strip to an undershirt, with nuts or washers attached the back of the strip and a rare earth magnet holding them from inside the shirt. I had cases 3D printed, but was so ridiculously down to the wire (pun intended) on the build that my wife literally just hot glued the boards to the battery pack between the ceremony and reception. Here they are in their day-of hot glued glory:

Top view showing solder prototype board and adxl345 attached to case

Belt clip ripped out of a cell phone belt case from Ax-Man, a local surplus store

I plan to finish all of the suits, and the final product will look like this with the cases I designed/printed up (the adxl345 accelerometer even fits inside):

Here's a view of the two part case, showing the base plate which allows the board to simply "nest" in the four corner frames, and the top will cinch down in it and attach to the base plate with screws. This lets me epoxy the baseplate to the battery pack, insert the board, and screw on the case which can still be removed if any repairs are needed.

In terms of components and code, there's details in Part 2, but the gist is:
- adxl345 accelerometer for detecting motion
- ws2812b individual LED strips (60/m density)
- rotary encoder to change modes/adjust variables (like acceleration threshold)
- standalone arduino built on a prototype solder board
- FastLED library used for effects, along with studying any code samples I could scrounge up around the web. I especially found the work/demos of Mark Kriegsman to be super helpful (and amazing).

Compared to the last suit, the board design/circuit was soooo much simpler since I used 5V individual addressable LED strips. No MOSFETs, no per-channel PWM pins needed. What a dream to work with. That said, soldering all of those up was still quite the task! Huge thanks to my work colleague/friend Ken Meyer who heard I was under the gun and came over and soldered like a machine for 4hrs on his vacation day. I never, ever, ever would have made it where I got without him!

The state of things after a long Friday of soldering

I also have to thank my lovely wife, Amanda, for running around like a madman (madwoman?) with me during the final days, picking up batteries, screws, digging through Ax-Man bins looking for something cheap with a belt hook, etc. She also ran the hell out of her hot glue gun to make this all happen.

I've really enjoyed these and will likely build something quite a bit more complex down the road. For now... I'm taking a break!

Part 2 features a list of materials and the code.

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