Enough with the in-depth boring stuff. Let’s do something fun with Adalight! Aside from the relatively straight-forward color data, each Adalight frame is preceded by a small six-byte header. Since this header data is mixed in with a lot of RGB color data, I got to thinking… if this data was pushed to the LEDs, what would it look like?
Now that I’ve calculated the theoretical framerate limits, it’s time to measure the actual framerates my Adalight device is putting out. Using a logic analyzer and an Arduino Nano, I’m going to measure the framerate at varying Prismatik “Grab Intervals” and baud rates, and compare those numbers to what my calculations predict will happen.
Since I’m experimenting with increasing Adalight framerate, the first step was to try driving the Arduino Nano with a faster serial baud rate. Unfortunately, Prismatik only supports three baud rates: 9600, 57600, and 115200. But after talking with Patrick Siegler, he pointed out a way to use your own custom baud rate for Adalight or Ardulight devices.
I recently posted a few ideas about how to improve the framerate of an ambilight driven using the Adalight protocol. Before trying to implement some of those options, I thought it would be worthwhile to actually calculate the theoretical framerate limitations.
One of my first thoughts on how to improve Moppy was to drive it directly via MIDI. At the moment, the format of serial messages sent to the drive controller is proprietary and requires using the “MoppyDesk” application on your PC to convert MIDI notes into playable pins and wave periods. What if we can skip the PC altogether and simply plug a MIDI cable into the floppy drive controller? The goal of this experiment is just to see if this is feasible.
While MIDI is serial communication, it is a standardized protocol and is treated differently by most operating systems. But because it’s just serial data, it’s possible to “re-route” these MIDI messages to a generic serial device like an Arduino using two small pieces of software.
As cool as I think ambilights are, using Adalight with my DIY setup has one major limitation: framerate. Video technology works on a principle caused persistence of vision, which means that our brains still “see” an image briefly after it’s taken away. If you replace the images quickly enough, our brains interpolate the differences between them and we get an illusion of motion.
We’re up and running! With the custom power cables and breakout boards, I now have a working setup with 8 musical floppy drives. To celebrate, let’s listen to it play us a song!