Programmable Light Props for Theatrics

Music-Synchronized light sticks that work in difficult RF environments like theaters for intense artistic applications.

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This project page describes the technical design and reasoning for implementation of a wireless system that includes transceiver points and a cluster of networked stage props that display complex lighting patterns.

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brd - 32.74 kB - 06/09/2017 at 07:15



sch - 67.10 kB - 06/09/2017 at 07:15



sch - 58.10 kB - 06/09/2017 at 07:15


py - 127.27 kB - 06/09/2017 at 07:15



brd - 66.39 kB - 06/09/2017 at 07:15


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  • Lessons Learned

    artist_edge06/27/2017 at 23:47 0 comments

    Following the rule of "awful dress rehearsal, flawless show," the show went well especially the technology pieces.

    That said, there are some key lessons learned and places to improve upon for the next iteration:

    1. Rechargeable batteries that do not require opening the enclosure. This was so time consuming for 12 tubes. The change to LiPo can lower the weight as well.
    2. Moving to another soldered in or robust connector power source and connector. This was a key pain. The first point can probably resolve this.
    3. Use a slow frequency sampling accelerometer to resolve the issue of which end is up. Requires a new driver, display improvement to handle orientation , and support feature in light design software (gosh, still need to upload here).
    4. If the tube lost power or connection, it lost the time stamp and was stuck back in "bootloader" awaiting the synchronizing tone. Also if we wanted to rehearse from middle of a piece, the lighting was not available. Ability to time synchonize to the rest of the system even if not from the beginning would be helpful.
    5. Port light design software to an digital audio workstation plug-in model. Audacity allows for people to develop plugins using Nyquist(Lisp). This would allow each tube to be an "audio track" in the DAW and be able to play back things with the music immediately in both simulator and on-target.
    6. Following from this, over the air tube update would be great to update the programs on each tube as need be. Once again another reason to not open the device. Even better: Use the DAW plug in to support OTA.

  • Getting Into The Guts of It All

    artist_edge06/22/2017 at 00:39 0 comments

    We are servicing the tubes in preparation for this weekend's show. It's a good time to take some pictures of the tube internals.

    When you first pull out the central portion of the electronics (see directions for assembly instructions), You can see the battery section which is shown without the stabilizing cover, LED strips along length, and then end cap with the wireless module and microcontroller.

    When seated inside the tube without the main board, the placement of the LEDs is clear. The Connector provides the bus connection to light up whole tube.

    Here is a close up of the wireless module and how it is affixed to the central tube. There is some room for improving robustness but live and learn.

  • Getting Closer - Video

    artist_edge06/12/2017 at 23:22 0 comments

    This weekend we starting seeing results. Checkout this snippet of the bigger piece using the light tubes.

  • 2 weeks before we are live

    artist_edge06/09/2017 at 07:47 0 comments

    Only a few weeks to go before we roll out this project in public.

    We are finishing up the programming for the each of the tubes such that they are synchronized with the music and dance choreography. It has been a lot of on going work with the choreographer to find the things that are wrong (a tube is wrong or the timing is off for all of them). The dancers are mesmerized by them but making sure they put them the right side up for all the effects to work has been an extra challenge.

    In the meantime, check out these picks of them in the dark as they cycle through a pattern.


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  • 1
    Step 1

    Physical Build instructions

    1. Affix LED strips to the square tubing on all sizes. Make sure that they leads are available to attach to the square Test4 PCB.
    2. Attach Strips to assembled Test4 PCB>
    3. Attach tube end cap to large pig feed tube.
    4. Slide LED square tube inside of the larger pig feed tube.
    5. Affix assembled motor board
    6. Attach 2nd end cap.
    7. You may need to dremel out tiny area in end cap to access on/off switch.
  • 2
    Step 2

    Basic device programming instructions

    1. Each tube will need to have it's own identifying number in the system. Yes, you could label them but on a dark stage your dancers can pick up the wrong tube ruining your vision. You'll need to encode that. Once you've programmed the number in, when it turns on, the tube will display the number of bands for the number of the device.
  • 3
    Step 3

    Individual Tube Updating


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