Electric Window 4.xx

22 February 2010

In addition to the advancements made to the Electric Window 3.xx series back in December, I also started a new light box series, Electric Window 4.xx:

This series revolves around a matrix of 16 LEDs with individually controlled brightness and fading, making it an organic/analog sibling to the 3.xx series which uses LED screens with a large group of on/off, or binary/digital behaving pixels.

Development of this series was fairly straightforward, extending on the work done for the Orion light boxes last spring, with the hardware based on the TLC5940 LED driver, controlled by an Arduino (and using Alex Leone’s great TLC library).

Prototype circuit

On the software side, it became an exercise of “how much content can I write for 16 LEDs?”  Although the Orion boxes simply simulate a twinkling star field, the orderly grid of Electric Window 4.xx demanded more than mere randomness.

So I wrote a series of pattern-generating functions using sinusoidal values to create soothing waves, adapted some of the grid-filling patterns from Electric Window 3.xx, along with a few other routines that specifically address the 4 x 4 grid of this series by randomly toggling the brightness values of rows and columns to create evolving greyscale patterns.

Diffusing the LEDs with acrylic gives the display a nice ghostly aesthetic.   Here’s a video of the results:


For demonstration purposes, the video shows the patterns changing quite quickly, but in actuality, the pattern speeds vary between slow and serene and speedy and frantic.  I’m really happy with the results, and this is one of my favorite series so far.

The finished pieces are 5″ x 7″ x 2″ and will be individually numbered:

I plan to make a batch of these in various other colours; and although I really like the monochromatic look, I’m sure an RGB version isn’t too far off.

I’m also considering getting a custom PCB made based on this design so I can easily scale it to bigger grids for bigger fixtures.

In the meantime, for anyone interested in a fully assembled piece, I’m also offering these at my on-line shop.

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