VHS RGB Panel Project # 2 (Pixel Panel Artsy Display)


This a nice kinda artsy project that runs through a bunch of effects sequences on a VHS RGB Panel…
It is based on the Aura demo (fram the FastLED library) that cycles through a bunch of effects

We have a fair pile of tested (marked OK on back) and working 16x16 RGB LED panels available for projects… These are in a box in the LED rack (next to Ecycling shelf). The cost for each panel is $5.00
You can either drop cash off in the donation drop box or eTransfer to the Space…

In order to make a VHS Pixel Panel you will need the following:

  • VHS RGB Panel
  • ESP8266 Module (NodeMCU, WeMOS, etc)
  • Female to Female Dupont Jumpers
  • Misc wire to connect power supply
  • 5V 1A power supply

You also have to have the ESP8266 core support added to your Arduino IDE:

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First you need to jumper 5 lines from the IN port over the the OUT port. To complicate things the OUT port is not labeled but the pins descriptions are identical to the IN port. Wire them as follows:

P10 Panel IN/OUT Connections
IN Pin OUT Pin
R2 R1
G1 R2
G2 G1
B1 G2
B2 B1

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Next you need to connect the ESP8266 module . As I wanted everything to be compact I used a WeMOS module without the header pins. I cut off one connector on the DuPont jumper wires and soldered each directly to the ESP8266 module as noted below. I also connected a pair of wires to the GND and +5 terminals.

ESP8266 Board Header Pinout
NodeMCU Pin Description P10 Pin
D0 Latch ST
D1 A Address A
D2 B Address B
D4 Output Enable OE
D5 Clock CLK
D7 Data R1

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Next connect the signal wires from the ESP8266 to the IN connector on the panel

Then run the power wires from the ESP8266 to the power terminals of the RGB panel.

Next I soldered the ESP8266 power wires and the power supply wires directly to the power pins on the module. I didn’t use one of the power connector wires as it was too bulky for what I wanted.

I then secured all the wires with some tie wraps. I’ll cover the ESP8266 module with heat shrink or Kaptan tape once I have it programmed.

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Now lets get the code running on your ESP8266. I used this library:

Which also requires FastLED:
http://fastled.io/

You can install both libraries from within your Arduino IDE using the library manager.

Next you need to grab the code here:
VHS_Pixel_Panel_V1.2.zip (64.8 KB)

Using the Arduino IDE load this into your ESP8266 module. Make sure you have it connected to a 5V power source that can supply 1 Amp. And you should get the various patterns as displayed in the video.

I mounted mine on a 10" x 10" square of plywood painted flat black… This allowed me to hang it on the wall.

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I’m so down for this. Thanks @packetbob very inspiring.

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I grabbed a panel today and hooked it up.

The above instructions are clear and very easy to follow! Thanks @packetbob!

Next up is to make a frame for it.

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Looks great…
Some settings if you want to play:

"BRIGHTNESS" = should adjust the brightness (0 to 255)
"ms_animation_max_duration" = determines (in millseconds) how long each effect is displayed for
// effects.RandomPalette(); = I tried enabling this and seemed to just get blues and whites rather than random palettes of colors. So I have it commented out.

The patterns themselves are listed in the Patterns.h file. You have to seemingly edit it in several sections and ensure the PATTERN_COUNT value is correct. This all controls which patterns are shown.
Each pattern has it’s own file and I imagine you can make more adjustments there…

Note I have tried multiple panels and while a 1x2 matrix (16x16 LEDs) works I found that I got strange artifacts and random LEDs staying on…
I had no luck getting a 2x2 panel matrix (32x32 LEDs) to work at all…

May be related to the 3.3V output of the ESP8266 modules vs the possible 5V signal in requirement of the panels. YMMV. I like the look of the single lone panel…

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To adjust patterns that get displayed:

  1. Open the " Patterns.h " file
  2. In the " Drawable* items[PATTERN_COUNT] = { " section you can comment or un comment the various patterns. You can see the comments from the person that wrote to code but feel free to experiment.
  3. Count the effects that you have in the above list and ensure you use the same value for " PATTERN_COUNT = 15; "
  4. Ensure the patterns you want are included in the " class Patterns : public Playlist { " section.
  5. Ensure the relevant pattern header file is added in the #include section
  6. Recompile and reboot
  7. Watch the serial monitor to watch the logging for more information

It is a confusing process but gets easier once you have played with it a bit
Each pattern also has a matching xxxxx.h file that may have some variables you can adjust.

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Woo! I bought 4 panels today. There are still a bunch left. Thanks @packetbob. Looking forward to playing with these.

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