A vest loaded with 470 full color programmable led lights capable of playing video. Video Links Provided.

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A vest loaded with 470 WS2811 led lights, capable of playing video. Diffused with white fur.


Using 470 WS2811 LED strips, and a Teensy 3.0 to drive the lights. Currently playing pre-rendered animations generated in Processing (for the plasma animations) and a C# app that extract video data and compiled it into LED data. 



The vest was sewn together by me, by tracing a regular vest, cutting and putting it together. (thanks for the lend of the sewing machine mum!) 

The inside uses regular jacket lining to permit it to slip around freely and not get caught which might stretch the electronics and break them.

White fur was attached over the top of the vest for diffusion. 

A zipper was used in the bottom to permit access to the electronics. 



470 WS2812 leds on regular non-waterproof strips, 30 per meter,  were cut to size so that they were vertically mounted. This helped place minimal bending on the strips. 

Each strip was coated with 12mm clear heat shrink to protect the leds, and keep water and playa dust off. 

The strips run in on continuous sequence, up-down-up-down, around the entire vest with the lights at uniform spacing to create a square grid of lights. 



After several attempts to generate plasma live on a TEENSY 3.0, which were successful but with a low frame rate of 4fps due to hefty maths, I opted for precompiled animations. It now runs at 31 frames per second, governed back to 25.



The trick to getting the entire vest to operate like a canvas rathe than just turning lights on and off is to use an index of 470 LED objects, each holding the relative and correct X-Y co-ordiantes of the corresponding LED.

I used PROCESSING to create the plasma effect fame by frame. As each frame is rendered in Processing, I grab the color of the pixels from the image that is generated, based on the XY coordinates of all the LED object in the index. 

The data is collected pixel by pixel, and then stored in a file as raw color data, with three bytes per pixel.



Storing data is done in sequence, reg-green-blue, from the first led to the last in each frame, then each frame is placed one after the other. The file length in bytes is:

LedCount * 3 * NumberOfFrames

The first three bytes are the (red green and blue) colors for the first LED, the fourth, fifth and six bytes are the red, green and blue colors for the second pixel.

In total there are 1410 bytes per frame, which is 470 * 3. 

It happens to be the case that RGB colors extracted from a bit map image are the same as that used on the WS2811, (extracted as separate Red Green And Blue bytes) so you can simply grab the corresponding XY coordinate pixel colors from each video frame generated in Processing, and send it to the corresponding LED. 

For video mapping, as with frames generated in processing, I simply process each frame from the video, extract the colors from the frame image by iterating the LED array, get the corresponding XY pixel color, and store the colors as raw bytes in a file. 

To play back the precompiled frames, I have a Teensy 3.0 with an SD card attached. 

Using the Neopixel library to manage the strip of leds, I simply get the first three bytes from the file, insert them end to end into a single integer (which is 32 bits but the neopixel library just ignores the 8 most significant bits) and copy the integer into the first location of the strip object. The second three bytes from the file go to the second led in the strip object...and so on for all 470 lights in that frame. 

To play the next frame, just get the next lot of bytes from the file, which would start at the 1411th byte...

  • 1 × Teensy 3.0
  • 470 × WS2812b
  • 1 × Micro SD Card Reader
  • 1 × 6v 12ah Sealed Lead Acid Battery
  • 1 × Standard Dress Vest

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  • Power

    finchronicity03/11/2014 at 00:25 9 comments

    Power is a challenge on this project. 

    Idol current is 600 ma without turning any lights on. 

    If they were all turned on the current could be up around the 14 amp mark.

    The WS2812 LED's are really bright, and to make it look nice at night I have dialed back the max brightness to 50 out of 255. 

    The upside is the plasma animation runs around 2 amps. 

    The downside is that the resolution only has 50 steps as opposed to the full 255 steps at full brightness. 

    This is making me want to talk to manufacturers to create a chip that uses the full 255 steps, but has a much lower light output for low brightness requirements, such as close range lighting like this vest. 

    I have settles on a 12AH 6 Volt Lead Acid battery. 

    A problem with this battery is charged voltage is 6.4 volts, which risks damaging the LED's and the Teensy controller. Thus I have installed a high current Diode to reduce the voltage back to the maximum 5.5 volts. 

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Enjoy this project?



ajfisher wrote 04/18/2014 at 08:02 point
Don't suppose you posted the code for this anywhere? I'd love to hack on this further....

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Paul Meulmeester wrote 04/17/2014 at 12:43 point
If you still have time before burning man it would be awesome if you can find a color sensor and incorporate that into the outfit (on a wire/ into a glove/ whatever) that combined with a trigger button would allow you to change the color of the vest into any color (or close to any color) of items that you touch.

Though I have never been to burning man I can only imagine how awesome it would be to change colors to whatever you put your hand on. Especially since it's such a colorful event.

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Jasmine Brackett wrote 04/23/2014 at 23:12 point
Fin is stealth mode. Not a concept I am familiar with.

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finchronicity wrote 03/12/2014 at 22:22 point
I've been contemplating the possibility of creating something commercially viable.

You can use the easily programmable $35 T1000S controllers, but I wanted to create my own system for the experience.

Battery life is the biggest hurdle for commercialization....the battery required to run this all night is huge.

It is also very delicate and I think lost warranty returns would be high.

That and it's a pretty serious fire hazard...

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Ben Delarre wrote 03/13/2014 at 16:05 point
Yeah, battery life and durability are the two big concerns with any commercial wearable project.

I have yet to see an LED clothing wearable survive the playa intact without serious maintenance throughout the week. Usual failure points are the connections between the LED strips (which are usually soldered) and on occasion the LED strips themselves where pressure has deformed the strip. I fell foul myself of this, completely forgot that I carry a backpack at Burning Man, the straps of which cut into the electronics over time and ended up breaking the cables internally.

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MiDri wrote 03/12/2014 at 22:07 point
This is going to become a must have at raves -- I just feel it.

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risknc wrote 03/11/2014 at 00:32 point
The fur diffusion looks sweet. I might have to add this to some of my projects :D

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