Retro Gaming POV LED display

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Hi everyone!

we're a team of French and Taiwanese engineers based in Taipei, Taiwan and we'd like to share with you this new project we're working on: SPINO

We want to build a a POV display with 32 RGB LED that will connect to your smartphone through bluetooth to play retro games such as Pac man, Space invaders...



Check the logs and the picture to see what spino looks like.

At this point it is still very experimental, we are trying to iterate on the design until we get something good. After that we also plan to build a nice casing for it.

We are based in Taiwan, so most of the components and PCB printing will be done either in Taiwan or China.

We'll try to keep a diary of our progress. Any feedback about our hardware design or cool new features / apps you could think of are welcome!

  • 1 × Teensy 3.2 Microcontroller
  • 12 × 74HC595 Electronic Components / Misc. Electronic Components
  • 32 × 0603 SMD LED RGB Led
  • 1 × HC-05 Bluetooth controller

  • 2 more days to place a bid on Ebay

    Raphael Seghier09/27/2017 at 06:43 0 comments

    Raphael Seghier09/20/2017 at 06:25 0 comments

    We are selling all our prototypes and spare parts. 

    Starting price: 100usd on Ebay.

    Just the 10 teensy 3.2 you'll get are worth 200usd.

  • SPINO is going Open Source!

    Raphael Seghier02/09/2017 at 02:09 0 comments

    We've decided to postpone our Kickstarter campaign and to go Open Source.

    You want to help us improve our hardware design? develop some apps for Spino? or just get a prototype to play around with? contact us!

    Don't forget to check out this video of our latest software development (code source available on

    More information about the open source project available here:

  • Space Invaders on a Spino POV LED display

    Raphael Seghier09/26/2016 at 07:32 0 comments

    In this video we are testing a simple demo of space invader on Spino. As you can see the display is spherical which requires to adapt the game accordingly. Instead of using cartesian coordinates we are are using polar coordinates. The pixels, Instead of being arranged along a grid like in a normal display are arranged along concentric circles. This makes designing games much more challenging.
    In this case, the test shows us that a shoot them up game is not a good fit for the display as shooting ennemies along circles is a bit awkward. We will modify this game so that the little space shuttle can go all around the circle while having to avoid obstacles which will be much more fun!

    Spino is a connected POV LED display. All the data is streamed from a computer to the display through bluetooth. In the final version of the product we will use a smartphone instead of the computer. The smartphone will run the games and will also be used as a controller.

  • Connected POV LED display: final video

    Raphael Seghier09/19/2016 at 14:36 0 comments

    After 6 PCB iterations, we have finally reached a sufficient level to shoot this little video (see below)

    All the data is streamed thought bluetooth from a PC to the display (reaching the right level of compression has been a challenge and we are still considering using WIFI instead of BT)

    What you'll find in the video:

    - more info about the PCBs

    - a few demos of retro games on ouf POV LED screen (some are real games that you can actually play others are just videos that we have ported to the display)

    - demos of what we call "holographic animations" (it's just a matter of finding videos that look ok on our display (resolution, colors...), If possible with a black background that will actually be displayed as transparent in the end)

    - And a short demo of live streaming from a webcam that we already posted here some time ago

    Please feel free to make comments, to tell us how you would like to use this display for and what features you want us to add next.

    If you can code in Python and would like to develop some small games or anything else for this display, please contact us.

  • Hacking Doom code for Spino transparent LED POV display

    Spino09/03/2016 at 10:02 2 comments

    Doom (the original version), is not only one of the best game ever made, but it's also a great example of C code.

    Thanks to id Software decision to release the code as open source in 1999, anybody can have a look and modify it.

    I had this project of changing the rendering of doom, to add a border effect to the walls, or cel shading. You can check the video at the end of this post to see why I wanted to do this to start with.

    This idea of the cel shading algorithm (as described in the Wikipedia page ) is simple: we apply a Sobel filter to both the depth and normal buffers of the rendered frame, that we then superpose to the colors.

    (Image from wikipedia)

    I used the excellent chocolate-doom port of Doom, since this is the closest to the original I could find, and it compiles nicely.

    My goal is to create my own buffers for depth and normals, and hook a function to fill them inside the rendering code, then just before the final blit, to call an other function to perform the Sobel filter and applying to the final image.

    Here is what it will looks like:


    -- Before. --


    -- After. --

    The difficulty when looking at doom source is that most of the functions have side effects modifying global variables. I have to admit it is a bit ugly, and I suspect that this was an optimization to avoid useless copies into the stack.

    Neither the less, the code is easy to follow, as there is almost no abstractions and indirections. Clearly, John Carmack is an adept of the New Jersey style of programming.

    I came up with this simplified function call tree for the rendering algorithm:

        R_Subsector // For each visible subsector
            R_AddSprites  // Fill the vissprites list
            R_AddLine     // For each wall (front to back)
                    R_StoreWallRange(start, stop)
                            R_DrawColumn    // What I am looking for
    R_DrawPlanes  // Render ceiling and floor.

    What they call 'line' is really a wall surface. The reason it is a 'line' is because from a logical point of view, doom walls are just 2d lines extruded vertically (they never have slopes).

    As we would expect, the walls are rendered front to back (function R_AddLine). To prevent rendering on top of previous walls, the code keeps an array of up to 32 ranges ( struct cliprange) of already rendered walls. Since the front to back order is guarantied, there is no need for an actual depth buffer.

    In my case, what I am looking for is the function R_DrawColumn, that ultimately renders a column of pixels from a sprite. It is used for both the walls and the sprites.

    Before the function is called, some global variables are set:

    dc_x:            x position.
    dc_yl:           Start y position.
    dc_yh:           End y position.
    dc_iscale:       Texture scale (i.e: view distance).
    rw_normalangle:  Normal of the surface angle.

    Those are all I need to maintain the depth and a normal buffers. In R_DrawColum, I add a call to my own function spoom_AddColumn, that fills some pre-allocated buffers:

    void spoom_AddColumn(int x, int y1, int y2, int z, int a)
        double angle = M_PI * a / ANG180;
        int y;
        for (y = y1; y < y2; y++) {
            depthBuffer[y * WIDTH + x] = (double)z / ((uint64_t)1 << 16);
            normBuffer[0][y * WIDTH + x] = cos(angle);
            normBuffer[1][y * WIDTH + x] = sin(angle);

    (Note that at the time when doom was release, such unoptimized code would kill the performances of the game. Fortunately this is of no concern for my needs).

    Now that my buffers are filled, I just need to process them with a Sobel filter at each frame, and use the result to add the borders on top of the color buffer. I do it in a single function:

    // Screen point to the color buffer.
    void spoom_Apply(byte *screen)
        int i, k;
        gaussianBlur(depthBuffer, tmpBuffers[0]);
        sobel(depthBuffer, tmpBuffers);
        gaussianBlur(normBuffer[0], tmpBuffers[0]);
        sobel(normBuffer[0], tmpBuffers);
        gaussianBlur(normBuffer[1], tmpBuffers[0]);
        sobel(normBuffer[1], tmpBuffers);
        for (i = 0; i < WIDTH * HEIGHT; i++) {
     if ( depthBuffer[i]...
    Read more »

  • Week 2 & 3: smaller LEDs, webcam streaming

    guillaume chereau08/23/2016 at 05:32 0 comments

    We made some change for the second prototype:

    • We separated the PCB into two parts: one for the central part with the teensy and HC-05 bluetooth module, and one for the LEDs array.
      The LEDs PCBs can be soldered to each other to double the number of LEDs, so that we can test both 32 and 64 LEDs prototypes.
    • The power transmission is now using brushes instead of coils. We hopped that this would fix some troubles we had with the hall sensor not getting enough power, alas, the problem still persists.
    • We switched to even smaller LEDs. The SMD 0603 RGB. Probably as small as we can get. This increases the density of the the image.

    Some pictures of the new design:

    32 LEDs.

    64 Leds, by concatenating two 32 LEDs blades together.

    For a funny demonstration of the display capacities. We made a software that
    can streams a webcam video in real time into the display:

    And some rendered images:Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any question.

  • Sending power through the rotating shaft

    Spino08/15/2016 at 06:22 0 comments

    Following a question in the comments, here is more information about how we managed to connect the PCB to the power supply (the data being directly sent by bluetooth)

    We first started with electromagnetic coils as it's a contactless solution. But we faced some issues: the hall sensor did not get enough power to work properly (the LEDs were ok though).

    We ended up going for brushes; which solved the power problem and enabled us to remove some elements from the PCV (AC / DC converter)


    We transmit power by the wireless charging module, so for the receiver we use the IC recommended for this module: T3168.

    We use the diode in the first part to change AC to high voltage DC, and use IC to control this buck converter to hold the voltage of output.

    BRUSHES (hand made...)

  • Second week, bluetooth streaming, with a little game.

    guillaume chereau08/10/2016 at 08:15 0 comments

    Our first prototype was a relative success, but the size of the PCB was too big, and we want to eventually put more LEDs in the display.

    For the second iteration we use twelve 74HC595 shift registers to drive the thirty-two RGB LEDs. The PCB arrived from China after a week. There was a minor error in the design, easily fixed by soldering two jumps.

    On the left side, we can see the teensy, HC-05 bluetooth modue, and AC/DC converter for the power.

    We also started to work on the bluetooth streaming. The idea is to use the display like a screen. It makes for an interesting challenge since the data need to be compressed enough for bluetooth low speed, and yet still need to be easily uncompressed on the teensy.

    An other issue we faced was that propagation speed of the data along the shift registers limits the number of time we can blink the LEDs. After some time tweaking the software, we got it working properly.

    And here we go for our glorious first video game test:

View all 9 project logs

Enjoy this project?



Frenchcanadianflyfishing wrote 08/16/2016 at 22:11 point

Forgive the (s)pun but this is brilliant!  Love it!  I bet even my wife would love it!  Don't forget to develop a V2.0 that'd be in 3D...  Layered blades, as well as using the weird human eye perception of colors (green is "nearer", red is "further away"...)

  Are you sure? yes | no

Spino wrote 09/06/2016 at 00:31 point

thanks for your comments, I used to work in the 3D industry... ;)

  Are you sure? yes | no

ch.dugasduvillard wrote 08/10/2016 at 11:44 point


What AC/DC converter do you use? Do you plan to display existing game or game build for SPINO ?


  Are you sure? yes | no

Spino wrote 08/17/2016 at 03:46 point

Bonjour Christophe, 

We've just added a log with a couple of pictures to answer your question about AC/DC converter. 

Regarding the games, we plan to port some classic games to Spino first. But it would obviously make sense to develop games specially designed for the display. The resolution is quite low so it looks better if the graphics are circular. If you are interested in developing games or apps for Spino, please get in touch with us!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Mike Szczys wrote 07/13/2016 at 18:44 point

This is really cool, I'd love to know more about it! How do you transfer power to the spinning board? How do you balance that spinning part so that it doesn't wobble? How are you storing frame buffer data? The polar nature of the board makes for an interesting challenge (in my mind anyway).

  Are you sure? yes | no

Spino wrote 07/14/2016 at 10:58 point

Hi Mike, thanks for your comments

How do you transfer power to the spinning board?

// We use electromagnetic coils. We wanted to avoid any form of contact to avoid frictions.

How do you balance that spinning part so that it doesn't wobble? 

// Right now just with a counterweight:  some extra screws located at the very end of the PCB! :)

We also plan to build a prototype with 2 blades of LEDs, one on each side of the teensy. That would make it more balanced and would enable us to decrease the rotation speed.
Eventually, the device will stand vertically to be conveniently used as a display. So you're right,  making it stable is something we're concerned about. 

How are you storing frame buffer data? 

// As a 32x128 bytes buffer, corresponding to the r and θ of polar

The polar nature of the board makes for an interesting challenge (in my
mind anyway).*

// Yes, at this low resolution, you basically have to design your game in

polar coordinates.  If we can increase the resolution or the number of
colors, we will be able to render normal looking game as well, but for
the moment all the games we plan to do will have a spherical design.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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