Blinkytape: kickstarting a smart strip of LEDs

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13 Responses to “Blinkytape: kickstarting a smart strip of LEDs”

  1. Artor says:

    How is this new? I have 8 feet of this stuff I bought on clearance for $30. It’s definitely cool, but how can someone put out a kickstarter for a product that is already on the market?

    Okay, I see from the video that the controls are more sophisticated than what I have, but the tape itself is nothing new.

    • mikea says:

      I thought the same at first.

      The difference is this can turn off/on individual LEDs in a strip rather than having all of them be wired together.

      AFAIK, you can’t do a running lights theater marquee effect with the current stuff unless you cut the strips into a length of a few LEDs and wire them individually.

      • Paul Marshall says:

        It seems to pretty much be this with a little bit of software:
        http://www.adafruit.com/products/306
        https://github.com/adafruit/LPD8806

        This has been on the market for a while now

        • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

          The Adafruit strip you link to is, indeed, similar; but it doesn’t have an integrated driver board(the LEDs have LED drivers; but there is nothing on the data lines controlling the LED drivers). The equivalent would be one of those strips, plus an Arduino or similar to drive it.

          If you already have a driver board, or want to use a driver board that can handle multiple strips, this product’s integrated driver is just a waste. If you only want a strip, or prefer the ability to just plug it into a computer and go, this one provides everything rolled into a single package.

      • Tech Kitsune says:

         You can indeed do a running lights theatre marquee with current stuff.

        In fact, the PCB it comes on is made for that, has been for 5 years.

        Source: I design and distribute LED solutions worldwide.

    • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

      I had a similar question: the controller board may or may not be more elegant than is typical(using USB for both power and control would be neat, and the ‘bare’ LED strips tend to a trifle touchy about timing); but W2811 or similar based LED strips, some encapsulated, some bare, are very much a stock thing at this point.

      As is common for heavily commodified parts, you can run into some rather dicey quality in terms of LEDs, solder joints, and actual waterproofness of encapsulant on the low end; but the things are all over the place.

      • bcsizemo says:

        All this.

        Like you said for small simple projects the everything-all-in-one approach is really nice.  But to do that club layout you’d need meters and meters of them…and really what you are needing is a controller (or perhaps a few) that will control more than one strip.  The $50 price wouldn’t be unfounded if I could buy a dumb/integratable strip(s) that would connect to the master controller for a cheaper price.

        • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

          I suspect that you aren’t going to get much more than a meter(at worthwhile brightness) out of a USB port(Adafruit actually quotes 2 amps/meter for theirs, so this puppy is either dimmer, has fewer LEDs, or is built from more efficient parts if it actually runs from a USB-spec USB port, rather than just the ’5v power socket that looks like a USB port’ flavor).

          However, depending on the LED driver chip, it should be possible for a single master to drive a fair number of LEDs. My understanding is that the protocol used is fairly ‘dumb’(because the driver chips need to be cheap, don’t have unique IDs, don’t know where on the strip they are/how many are ahead of or behind them, and only get two wires to work with), so an excessively long chain will either break down entirely, if some timing requirement is violated, or refresh rate will get slower and slower(since you can’t send an order to just one LED, because they don’t have the equivalent of a MAC address, you need to refresh the entire string up to the LED you want to change, so bandwidth demand goes up as length increases, even if number of state changes/second doesn’t).

          Ideally, they’d leave the two data lines at the end of the strip socketed, and sell a matching ‘injector’ coupler part(to dump +5v from a punchier power supply into the downstream strips) and ‘dumb’ strips that are matched for brightness and color; but will slave to their master units.

          That would still be limited by whatever the total chain length of their chosen driver is; but it would really take the sting out of larger deployments.

  2. Thomas says:

    These ‘kickstarter’ chips have the controller at the beginning of the strip and use micro USB. The Adafruit ones need a separate board.

    But I calculated that the Adafruit type can be used to make a full size vodeo screen.. if you have a huge length.

    • bcsizemo says:

      If you were going for a video screen layout (and building it from parts anyway) it looks like it’d be easier to start with an actual lcd driver chip than combining microcontrollers together.

      • classic101 says:

        Although I think that this is a bit expensive and already over done since arduino + LED strip have been around for a long while now; 

        a “driver chip”  can be a kind of micro controller. So having or not  having a micro controller is only a matter of semantics. 

        If it is programmable via USB or programmable via I2C, he is only adding the interface. 

        I indeed can see some value for someone who doesn’t want to deal with programming or electronics (not even a little bit) a

  3. Rosangela Canino-Koning says:

     They seem to be selling the controller board which hooks up to USB.

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