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Thread: Finally Affortable Snowfall Tubes (FAST)

  1. #1
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    Default Finally Affortable Snowfall Tubes (FAST)

    I've been working on an idea for inexpensive snowfall tubes.. What I've come up with so far consists of :
    1-PIC 16F688
    8-51Ohm 1/8Watt Resistors
    1-10KOhm 1/8Watt Resistor
    56-Pure White SuperFlux LEDs (Or Any LED, Depending on Vf the 8 resistors value might need to change)
    My plan is not to create a PCB for these but take strips of white Formica and drill the holes for components. I know tedious but the idea is inexpensive and I've got time.

    My plan is to power 1 tube per Ren48LSD Channel. Simply supply 5V to the tubes and they do a "fall".. I've written some Firmware for the PIC. I have 2 working versions. One is straight forward and loops through 28 times lighting 2 LED's each time through the loop with delays. The second is a variation with a TMR0 interrupt triggering the next run though the loop. Both Firmwares start with the fall going fast and then slowing as it "falls" I'm attaching the Schematic & Firmware for what I have currently working. Ideally I'd like to get it to a point where there are a few configurable options in the firmware such as setting a flag for maybe a "dimming tail" or other ideas. I'd like some input on the software and if possible some help with the code. I'm 1 week into learning assembly, so I know I've got a ways to go.

    Here is a video of the LED's on my breadboard..
    (Uploaded at 11pm on 4-18-11.. Vimeo says it might take til midnight to convert. If it doesn't work try back)
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    Last edited by chelmuth; 04-18-2011 at 10:55 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Finally Affortable Snowfall Tubes (FAST)

    Very cool. Can't wait to see the finished product and total cost as well.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Finally Affortable Snowfall Tubes (FAST)

    Your timing stinks... About the time you were waiting for the Video to upload and convert, I was finishing my Taxes and beginning to pull out all my Blinky Flashy stuff. I told myself that I had to get my Taxes done before working on my two new projects: RGB Sparkle Balls and Snow Fall tubes. My tubes were based on BobKeyes design. very similar to yours, but a simple 12 LED solution driven directly off the PIC.

    I like the formica idea. For my My prototype I cut a strip of a piece pegboard and pushed the LEDs from the back.

    Did you write your code from Scratch? I'm very impressed. Not sure I coudl handle the Matrix stuff.

    If you haven't seen it, here's the post where Bob's starts:

    http://doityourselfchristmas.com/for...970#post107970

    No matter what happens, I think most of the DIY designs could use this type of LED. Where did you get yours and what was the cost? Do you think it makes sense to do a Bulk Grup Buy? I struggle at pulling the trigger on LED purchases. I'm never sure on what I'm buying. I have been using a bunch of LEDs that were sold as replacement for LED strings. I bought every replacment pack the 3 Walmarts near me had for like .15 per pack of 5. They are not as bright as any LED I have seen in a tube, and have strange viewing angles, so I would like to use something different.
    Last edited by kychristmas; 04-19-2011 at 12:12 PM.
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    Default Re: Finally Affortable Snowfall Tubes (FAST)

    Very nice. I have been investigating this same type of design, but never finished. I really like the idea and have looked online at some of the pre-made units but did not like the way they were triggered.

    I would gladly be up for a group buy on this one. What length are you thinking of obtaining? And to be able to trigger it from Vixen is the best part.

    Please keep me informed.
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    Default Re: Finally Affortable Snowfall Tubes (FAST)

    Now that I had a chance to look at the Schematic, my brain hurts. It looked like a matrix of some kind, but when I look at the mixed orientation of the LEDs, I don't see it. Can you explain the concept? Sorry, I'm a bit dense.
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    Default Re: Finally Affortable Snowfall Tubes (FAST)

    The LED's are CharliePlexed not regular Matrix. Basically you use 8 pins connected to each other as follows with 2 leds one forward biased and one reversed.. so you get 2 LED's per connection then when you reverse the high and low of any pair the other LED lights..so wires go from
    1-2, 1-3, 1-4, 1-5, 1-6, 1-7, 1-8
    2-3, 2-4, 2-5, 2-6, 2-7, 2-8
    3-4, 3-5, 3-6, 3-7, 3-8
    4-5, 4-6, 4-7, 4-8
    5-6, 5-7, 5-8
    6-7, 6-8
    7-8...

    This gives you 28 paths and when you put 2 LEDs on each path you get 56 total LED's..

    The LED's I plan to use are the Pure White SuperFlux LED's for the superstrips that tjeitzer (sp) just did a group buy for.. Since we ordered 10k'ish the price ended up being 4$ for 60.. so for a final cost I'm looking at $4 LEDs, $.10 Resistors, $.14 PIC Socket, $1.50 PIC16F688, Optional RJ45Jack for Power Connection $.80.. Plus what ever the Formica costs if not free. and i'm thinking the 4' Florescent projector tubes which are ~$4.. So I'm thinking easily less the $14 total possibly less that $10 if you only make 2ft tubes..

    Yes I did write the code from scratch.. That was a learning process (read "much banging head on wall going why the $#%@ doesn't it do what i'm telling it to) considering I'd never touched Assembly before 2 weeks ago.

    My ideal length was either 2 or 4ft depending on how the LED spacing looks once I get the actual LED's i'm going to be using in place..
    Last edited by chelmuth; 04-19-2011 at 07:12 PM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Finally Affortable Snowfall Tubes (FAST)

    All I know is that I'd like to get ahold of that I&%$#%$^ guy "Charlie" (Charles Allen) and wire his arms and legs up in opposing polarities. It's called Charlieplexing, and it uses a minimal number of output pins to control a large number of LEDs. Theory says you can control N * (N-1) LEDs with N pins. So for 8 pins you control 8 * 7 = 56 LEDs. You only need to keep all potential paths below the forward voltage that will light the LEDs. WIERD guy!!

    See this Instructable for a pretty good explanation: http://www.instructables.com/id/Char...s--The-theory/



    Last edited by WireWrap; 04-19-2011 at 07:17 PM.
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    Default Re: Finally Affortable Snowfall Tubes (FAST)

    Thanks for the great explanation guys. I have heard of Charlie-Plexing, but I didn't understand it like that. My head still hurts! So in your schematic, how are they numbered?

    I bought a few extra in TJs GB, but not that many.
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  10. #9
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    Default Re: Finally Affortable Snowfall Tubes (FAST)

    Quote Originally Posted by kychristmas View Post
    So in your schematic, how are they numbered?
    Looking at the resistors they are in order.. 1-8 .. I used the same pins as the channel outputs for the renard software as I was originally going to mod some renard code but decided against it and rolled my own.. Maybe this schematic is easier to read?
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    Last edited by chelmuth; 04-19-2011 at 08:23 PM.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Finally Affortable Snowfall Tubes (FAST)

    Check out pages 8 and 9 of this for a good schematic and explanation of charlie-plexing. This really helped be get my head around it.
    http://downloads.eshepherdsoflight.c...d-MidiTree.pdf
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