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Thread: My ESP32 wireless controller for unlimited size shows

  1. #1
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    Default My ESP32 wireless controller for unlimited size shows

    I'll just throw out the highlights of what I built, as I'm sure it's been done before, but I found it fun and interesting!

    - Create FastLED shows of arbitrarily large size (mine is 180m * 144 = 26000 LEDs).
    - Maintains 30fps
    - No interconnects, just power
    - Up to 1200 led per segment
    - Unlimited segments

    Basically, for every 1200 or so LEDs you need one of my little dongles which receives show information from the central controller over WiFi and displays its section of the show on the LEDs that it controls.

    Since the datarate for the LEDs means you can only go to about 1000 per segment and still update them 30 times a second, that was the cutoff I chose.

    My goal was to build a system where you could scatter WS2812B strips around the yard and "assign" them a place in the show. The "show" is the large 26000 LED array, and you draw whatever you like into it, and then the controller distributes the pieces wirelessly to the segments. They buffer up to 5 seconds of show content independently, and show their piece in perfecrt sync.

    Sound interesting or already done before?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: My ESP32 wireless controller for unlimited size shows

    Sounds very interesting.
    Of course, it wouldn't be usable without a 'model' for use with the common show sequencers.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: My ESP32 wireless controller for unlimited size shows

    Quote Originally Posted by davepl View Post
    I'll just throw out the highlights of what I built, as I'm sure it's been done before, but I found it fun and interesting!

    - Create FastLED shows of arbitrarily large size (mine is 180m * 144 = 26000 LEDs).
    - Maintains 30fps
    - No interconnects, just power
    - Up to 1200 led per segment
    - Unlimited segments

    Basically, for every 1200 or so LEDs you need one of my little dongles which receives show information from the central controller over WiFi and displays its section of the show on the LEDs that it controls.

    Since the datarate for the LEDs means you can only go to about 1000 per segment and still update them 30 times a second, that was the cutoff I chose.

    My goal was to build a system where you could scatter WS2812B strips around the yard and "assign" them a place in the show. The "show" is the large 26000 LED array, and you draw whatever you like into it, and then the controller distributes the pieces wirelessly to the segments. They buffer up to 5 seconds of show content independently, and show their piece in perfecrt sync.

    Sound interesting or already done before?
    You’re still transmitting the show data over the network unreal-time (albeit w a buffer).

    Why not use the already existing PiCaps, where the full show is already saved on the (hundreds?) of PiCaps dispersed around your yard? The only data being transmitted in real-time is just the time-sync to keep all the PiCaps synchronized.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: My ESP32 wireless controller for unlimited size shows

    Quote Originally Posted by Bwinter View Post
    You’re still transmitting the show data over the network unreal-time (albeit w a buffer).

    Why not use the already existing PiCaps, where the full show is already saved on the (hundreds?) of PiCaps dispersed around your yard? The only data being transmitted in real-time is just the time-sync to keep all the PiCaps synchronized.
    Picaps is a great solution to a different problem. I can stream video to mine, for example, because the LEDs are just a canvas that the master can draw on. I've only done with the 3 panels at once (about 768 LEDs) but I had a nice scrolling video up and running. If I could post a video into this forum, I'd show you that!

    Distributing the computation is one approach, but I want whole-scene effects that span the entire 20,000+ LEDs. I want effects like bouncing balls that span multiple segments. I wanted to avoid any solution that distributed computation of the scene down to the strips, because I want a central renderer. I want the central PC to "draw" on the scene as if it's a huge canvas, and that's what I achieved.

    If you just want to run pre-canned effects, pushing those effects down to the strip makes sense, but that isn't what I was going for.

    Plus I can do video! Not sure how to insert a video into a comment, but you can assemble a large matrix display from multiple subpanels and then push the bits from the controller out to the panels. I only did it with 3 as a test, but it worked seamlessly and without tearing. None of that is even remotely possible with picaps, as far as I know.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: My ESP32 wireless controller for unlimited size shows

    Well, I have i up and running with 10,000 LEDs at 30 frames per second. It was a ton of work - multiple queues on each end, sliding windows, wifi packet coalescing... there won't be many imitators long soon!

    But does this forum support uploading videos? Or posting YouTube ones inline?

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