YAPs* - Making Some Light Painting Tools


#1

So it’s been a while since I started some new projects…
I got a new camera a while back and have been thinking of some related projects…
Haven’t got started on any yet but thought I’d throw it out there in the event anyone else was interested…

Light Painting
Saw this video and got interested (https://vimeo.com/189240973)
Been looking at various tools and I’m thinking of building the following

  1. Single Pixel Light - Something flashlight shaped that can take various ends (lense for lighting areas, pingpong ball for painting, etc). Want something bright and RGB programable so leaning towards a Adafruit Pixie(https://www.adafruit.com/product/2741) driven by a NANO. I’d like to use a 3.7 V LION cell for power so will probably need a DC/DC boost power supply to get the needed 5V. I envision it all mounted in a length of plastic conduit with various attachments on the LED end. Something like what these guys make for a flashlight (https://lightpaintingbrushes.com/).
  2. Pixel Ring Light - A similar form factor but with a pixel ring on the end instead of a single LED. Perhaps a couple different sizes of rings. Again with a similar power supply and controlled by a NANO. Both would have controls for intensity, pattern, speed, etc… Need to come up with a simple control method (a few pots and switches or mebbe an encoder).
  3. Pixel Light Bar - A 1 meter length of 144 pixel strip setup like this (https://learn.adafruit.com/neopixel-painter/overview?view=all).

Other Stuff
4) Camera Slider - Something like this (http://www.openbuilds.com/builds/time-lapse-camera-rail.1307/). But I’d also like to have a pan unit for the camera.
5) Camera Controller - Would also like to do some balloon bursting, water droplet, etc pictures and have been looking at various options. (http://photoduino.com/)
6) Star Pictures - Have nothing in mind for this yet but was in the boonies (no light pollution) for a few weeks and managed to get some decent star pictures (decent from my point of view) using just the camera aimed up using a few books to prop it, no remote shutter or anything fancy.

*YAP = Yet Another Project(s)
An affliction that leads to starting many more projects than you actually finish (though the plan is to finish them at some point)


#2

After having “RGB LED light bar for a bicycle wheel with configurable
images” on my project list since 2010 or so, the Monkey Light (
http://www.monkeylectric.com/monkey_light_pro/) came out and did pretty
much everything I’d have tried to do. $1000 is reeeeeaally steep, though.

So instead, I’ve got a couple of these coming:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Colorful-32-LED-Wheel-Spoke-Light-Waterproof-Bicycle-Light-Cycling-Led-Bike-Light-Bike-Cycling-Accessories/32807457865.html

$5 is pretty crazy cheap.

I think they’d be a fun project to hack them so that they have more
features. These look like they’re just a few preprogrammed patterns. How
hard would it be to sneak an ESP8266 in there, you think?


#3

So I have started on this:
Pixel Light Bar - A 1 meter length of 144 pixel strip setup like this (https://learn.adafruit.com/neopixel-painter/overview?view=all).

I had a 1 meter length of 144 led WS2812 led strip so I just need a bar to mount it on. But first I had to deal with the pain in the butt thing on all the 144 led strips. For some reason (probably factory yield) they only make the 0.5 meter long. If you want a 1.0 meter length they solder two strips together. No big deal but they muck up the spacing. The WS2812 chips are 2 mm apart normally but at the joint between the two strips it is more like 3.5 mm. I find it noticeable when they are lit up and figured it may be more noticeable in this application. So I had to desolder the joint between the 2 strips and tighten it up. A bit tricky as there isn’t a lot of room to work and the existing solder must be lead free as it takes a lot of heat to break it apart.

Anyways I screwed up a bit of the copper trace and had to cut off one led… So now it will only be 143 leds…

Here is me getting ready to solder them back together:

Now I needed to mount the leds on some sort of bar the would be lightweight, easy to hold and sturdy and perhaps have a diffuser… I had some 1/2" alum channel but it seemed a bit deep and wasn’t sure how I’d mount a handle…

Looked around a bit more and settled on a length of led mounting channel from Lee Valley:

http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=71702&cat=1,43349

Now this was a nice low profile and had a diffuser but wasn’t strong enough to mount some sort of handle or sturdy enough to use…

Found some 1/2" x 1/2" steel square tubing at Canadian Tire:

Figured I could mount the alum led channel to it and then mount these drawer handles to the other side:

That should give me a sturdy frame with a decent protected frame for the LEDs. Two of the handles should make it easy to hold from the back. I’ll also have to mount a small box with the controller.

The Adafruit example uses a UNO but I think it’s pretty much maxed out. I want to add some extra controls to allow control of the speed on the animation and intensity of the LEDs (to allow changes while photographing) and I’m not sure if there will be space on the UNO. I may end up trying to migrate it to a Teensy…


#4

Managed to resolder the LED strip so the spacing is correct now…
Cut the alum channel to match with room at the ends for the end caps…

Cut the steel square tube a tad shorter and found someend caps for it also…

Drilled out holes in the steel tube and mounted the handles (used some lock washers and loctite)

Mounting the alum channel to the tube was a bit more difficult. Though of using small flat head screws so that the inside of the channel (where the led strip sits) would be flush but I did not have any small enough screws. Decided to glue it… Used clear silicon.

Once it hardens over night I will drill holes in the frame for the wires and attack the led strip to the channel and affix the diffuser…

How it looks so far:


#5

Also working on the controller…Gonna try a NANO with a SD card reader… Add a switch (to activate animation) and perhaps a beeper (to indicate when animation is to start)

For power I may try 12V from 8 x AAA and then use a power supply module to drop it down to the +5 for the NANO and LEDs…

Or it may be wise to invest in a decent USB battery pack that I could then use for various portable type projects. Then I would get +5 from it and not need the power supply module in the controller…

My plan is to mount the completed controller case on the steel tube between the handles and hopefully run the wires in the tube (but that may prove top be too difficult)…

Once completed I’ll paint it all flat black…

Except for the LEDs…


#6

Just about ready to install the LED strip and figured I’d test it again…

Frack…

Looks like I damaged one of the chips at the joint…
Tried resoldering with no luck…

Luckily I have another 1 meter length to try…

I also figured out how I can mount the control box and battery:

Used a piece of alum pop riveted to the square tube to mount the box…
Gonna make some sort of holder for the battery pack…


#7

did you mount the battery pack at the balance point? Easier on the arms during extravagant session, me think… ( I am approaching the age of the metal-detector-on-the-beach…)


#8

Not too worried about the balance point as stick will be held in many different positions…

Anyways I got a bit further…
Cobbled together a battery pack holder out of alum angle and attached it to the square tube…
Will use velcro tape to hold battery in place…

Managed to resolder the LED strip and will go with the 141 LEDs I have left…
Got them mounted and managed to snake the wiring through the tube…

I have also allowed for a small pushbutton switch that I will mount on one of the handles to let you trigger the sequence while holding the stick…

Now I have to add the diffuser and then hopefully fit all the parts in the grey plastic box…
Might try a small RF remote also so that the photographer can trigger the animation and the person holding the light light stick just has to worry about moving…


#9

Started to try to mount everything in the plastic box:

Gonna be a tight fit…
Should have used a bigger box,
Mebbe for V2.0

I managed to mount the SD card reader nicely but didn’t really leave room for the NANO…
Think I will just wire it up and either leave it loose or ???
And why do the mounting holes have to be so friggin small (2-56 screws are too large)

Time to hit Thingiverse and see if someone has made up some sort of 90 degree mounting bracket…

I have added an extra pushbutton and toggle from the Adafruit version. I will use the pushbutton to reset (as that gets it into the config mode) and I’ll use the toggle to select between the normal mode of using the SD card contents for animations and another mode where the bar just displays patterns from various pixel libraries…


#10

I ended up making a mess of the original case and had to start again…
This time I found one slightly larger…

Mounting the NANO turned out to be a pain as I wanted to be able to connect up the USB cable as I’ll be playing with the code quite a bit… Finally ended up using some small plastic angle and some very small screws as the holes on the NANO are less than 2 mm. I found some 1.7 mm screws and sone 1/2" plastic angle at Central Hobbies on Grandview Hwy (near Renfrew)

I sort of sandwiched the pcb with the angle and will mount on the side of the case with a hole for the USB cable. Hopefully it will be strong enough to handle the USB cable being plugged and unplugged.

Now it is time to finally start wiring stuff up…


#11

Got the wiring done

Now I have to make sure it works and make some small changes in the Adafruit code…
Things I want to add:
A beeper to signify the steps of selecting speed and brightness
A non-image mode to use various pixel patterns rather than the image files. You’ll still be able to control speed and brightness on startup.
A remote switch on the handle
A delay before the image starts so you can be moving before it starts and possibly be a bit more stable (though the instability makes for more interesting pics)

And before that one more test of all the parts before (and after) I screw it all together…


#12

FYI…
The components are pretty much all from AliExpress:
Arduino NANO - https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Nano-V3-ATmega328-CH340G-Micro-USB-Pin-headers-NOT-soldered-Compatible-for-Arduino-Nano-V3-0/32664577152.html
SD Card Reader - https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1pcs-Micro-SD-card-mini-TF-card-reader-module-SPI-interfaces-with-level-converter-chip-for/32583289463.html
3A Buck Power Supply - https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Free-shipping-10pcs-lot-Tracking-number-LM2596-LM2596S-DC-DC-adjustable-step-down-power-Supply-module/1732504666.html
144 Pixel Strip - https://www.aliexpress.com/item/DC5V-1m-4m-5m-Black-White-PCB-30-60-144-leds-m-WS2812IC-30-60-144/32428126793.html


#13

I have finally got it wired up, put together and the code installed

Here is a closer view

And here is a very rough initial test with the VHS logo done in my living room

I have a few things to fix:

  1. Want to add a beep to signify when the image frame is completed
  2. Some how I reversed the way the leds are installed (should have been from the top instead of the bottom) I can reverse the image before I load it but I think I’ll try to fix it in the software.
  3. Need to figure the various controls on my camera to get a decent shot. I’m using the Bulb setting and a remote shutter.

Anyways the first light painting tool is completed…
Will add more pics as I figure it out…
Will also start on the light paint brushes I want to make…


#14

Wow! That’s awesome!!


#15

SORCERY!!!
:crazy_face:


#16

Looks awesome Bob!