A simple volumetric display intended to use in topography

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TopoTron is a simple volumetric display that uses adressable LEDs as WS2812 to create a tridimensional matrix. In this project I explore the posibilities and capabilities with a low resolution matrix to create not only topographies, also other beautiful effects. Some features are:

- First prototype with 5x8x7 voxels.
- WS2812 LED strips.
- 3D printed diffusers to create a better effect.
- MCU based in ESP8266.

In a future version I will work in a much better prototype with

- Bigger matrix with 16x16x7 , 24x16x8 voxels or similar (to be defined).
- APA102 or other addresable LEDs with a better refresh rate.
- A well designed frame to fit the display.
- Processing software to create effects to be uploaded in ESP8266

I want an easy way to see a topography in 3D without glasses or headsets.

Unfortunately isn't an adequate technology to make it possible. Some ideas based in POV or devices as voxatron are in the market but usually are very expensive.

My idea is about a cheap, middle level device to see in 3D but compromising resolution. Voxels will be limited with this aproach.

So ... will be possible? Welcome to my project.

I 'm using WS2812 LED stripes in colums, I could change the arrangement because the base are made of protoboards.

In a first stage I'm making a prototype with 5x8x7 voxels to see the best arrangement, distance between columns etc.

Also I'm testing different diffusers (3d printed with FDM or DLP ) to see the best results.

With this knowledge I wiil make a bigger matrix with 16x16x8 or 24x16x8 voxels and develop a software to create simple topographies to apply in this device. With this resolution the display will be limited but could have a good 3d effect.

More info in

License GPL3.0

  • 1 × ESP8266 Microcontroller Lolin V3 model
  • 4 × Breadboard (830 points) Electronic Components / Misc. Electronic Components
  • 1 × WS2812 LED strips, 5m roll with 60 leds/m
  • 1 × Power supply 5V 30A
  • 1 × Wiring

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  • It works !!

    Victor Barahona06/13/2021 at 21:55 0 comments

    This week has been hard but I finally get some results. Here I have the first columns working, but some problems too. the fourth column don't works as you can see:

    It's my first experience with addresable LEDS and some problems are strange for me.  I have ichecked a lot ot things and finally all my problems come from bad solderings. It seems that soldering and wiring are fine, but the data channel is broken in some place. This problem delayed me and unfortunatelly I can't finish the whole array now. I hope in one week more it will be finished.

    But I have at the moment 7x5x3 voxels, 105 . It's enough to see some results:

    Also I have edited a short video pitch to include in this project. Enjoy !!

    As I have said , if this project is finalist I will make the "big" version of TopoTron. 

    Anyway , I'm happy because I developed this project very fast. The idea was in my mind since a lot of years ago, and finally comes to reality in two weeks.

  • Mass production :)

    Victor Barahona06/12/2021 at 19:07 0 comments

    It's time to produce a big amount of diffusers , one for each LED. This version of Topotron has 7x5x8 so it needs 280 diffusers.

    I'm printing in transparent PLA and uncoloured resin. So many diffusers as I can to try to be in time to show it up and running as soon as possible.

    In this picture we see a resin batch before to wash in alcohol an UV treatment:

    And here we see a bunch of diffusers, a mountain of them.

    In this picture we see the process to create every module with 7 LEDs, from bottom to top.

    And finally the assembly of modules in breadboards. I'm having problems with testing, every module works fine but don't work correctly when I connect them in cascade. I'm troubleshhoting that problems.  More info soon.

  • Frame and minor details

    Victor Barahona06/10/2021 at 21:52 0 comments

    I have created a 3d printed piece to contain the power supply and Topotron. This piece has 30x20x15cm and is made in one piece. Here it is:

    In the back is the space to hold the power supply.  With 2 holes for power AC input an 5VDC output. 

    Look my "solution" to attach the ESP8266. As you know the V3 version don't fit correctly in a breadboard. So I put 4 M3x25mm screws and some nuts. The bottom is glued to the frame. I'm sorry but I'm prototyping and this solution works. I'll fix it in the future, I promise.

    Testing with 1 module and diferent diffusors, looks nice. I'm preparing more modules to start with a minor version of the final matrix and make some effects. Stay tuned!

  • First testing with vertical LED tiles and ESP8266

    Victor Barahona06/09/2021 at 12:15 0 comments

    A new update to see the pieces to create each z axis. 

    I use LED strips with 7 LEDs. I need a holder and some diffusers. I have created several versions to test them and see the best result. In this picture we see cuad and hexa tiles, in transparent PLA and resin. also we see the holder for 7 LEDs.

    The components before soldering:

    I create several modules and put them in the breadboard. This is a first test with a few pieces to see the ESP8266 is working correctly.

    And finally the first results. I continue testing with other designs and soon the complete matrix will be made.

  • Defining array XY and printing some pieces

    Victor Barahona06/07/2021 at 19:25 0 comments

    In this phase (first prototype) the project is developed with 4 breadboard that I have join to have a good area to work. 

    I play with wiring a bit to define the XY array. I want at least 3cm between every point. That means 8 rows and 5 or 6 columns. It's enough for this prototype.

    In Z axis I need a suppor for LED strips and diffusers. I think that seven LEDs are a good quantity for each  support. I have designed a piece and print a bunch of them to testing.

    Also I have designed several diffusers to print with transparent PLA and transparent resin. With square and hex shape, fully solid and hollow. I'm testing all of them to see the best result.

    More info soon, work in progress

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