NeoPixel Prototyping Board

While the final version of the footwell NeoPixel project calls for a long strip of ~60 pixels, most of my time is going to be split between programming at my desk and testing the pixels’ response to telemetry from the car.  I didn’t want to have to wrangle a large strip every time I wanted to test an idea, and I figured most of the patterns for the 60 pixel strip could be replicated on a shorter one.

My solution is this small prototyping board.  It’s a 3D printed part with mounts for an Arduino Uno, a small breadboard, and a NeoPixel stick.  The NeoPixel stick is a nifty PCB with 8 of the same type of RGBW leds as the strip I plan to use, and includes input/output pads and a resistor for the data line.  The breadboard lets me wire a 1000µF capacitor to protect the pixels from voltage spikes and allows me to hook up a second power supply if I’m reaching the power limits of the Arduino (which I should note is absolutely possible if you’re using all of the pixels at full brightness).

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Footwell NeoPixels: The Plan

This is going to be the first big project documented from start to finish on this blog.

I recently had the the idea to put some lights in the footwells of my car, a 2008 Scion tC.  There are a variety of kits available online that use standard multicolor LED strips, but I was never fond of the options available.

For one, the control interfaces are clunky and scream ‘mod’.  Most of them use thin remotes, though a few have small control boxes attached directly to the LEDs.  I wanted a control switch that integrated into the car’s switch panel and looked like it could be OEM.

I also couldn’t find any kits that used RGBW LEDs.  The ‘white’ light produced by combining Red + Green + Blue LEDs is muddy.  I wanted something that included a true white LED.

Lastly, and most intriguing to me, is that I’ve always had a vague interest in designing a shift light that interfaced via the CAN-bus available on the car’s OBD-II port.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine the two ideas.

To include all of these features, I need to design my own driver system.  If I’m going to do that, I may as well use addressable LEDs and go a bit crazy with the patterns!

Currently my plan is to prototype everything with an Arduino Uno and potentially port everything over to a Teensy 3.X for the final implementation.

Basic Project Goals:
  • Drive RGBW footwell lights with switch panel control
  • Pull vehicle telemetry via CAN
Project Features:
  • Custom button panel to control modes and brightness
  • Brightness control with visual feedback
  • Audio-intensity sensor / mode
  • Vehicle telemetry integration
  • User-configurable settings, read / saved on SD card.

These are the main goals/features, though I may add more as I go along.

I’m really excited to start working on this.  I have no regular plan for posts, but I’ll be sure to update as I make progress.

LED Light for Printrbot Simple Metal

For the inaugural post on the blog, I thought I would post a small completed project that I made awhile back.  Last year I finally purchased a 3D printer of my own – a Printrbot Simple Metal #1403.  The printer itself works fairly well, but it sorely needed a light so I could see what was going on under the extruder head.

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