1000+ LED Wall - Difficulty defining my project components and teaching myself

Hello,

My name is Mikey, I am looking to build an LED system that contains 1000-1200 individually addressable high-brightness LEDs. Ideally the LEDs have to be as small as possible. The LEDs will illuminate a poly-urethane sculpture and will thus be mounted underneath it. I've no experience with Arduino as of yet but have found it to be perhaps a solution to my project's needs.

The wall spans 40m wide with a height of 4m. the sculptures are scattered across the wall somewhat evenly, so wiring is a concern!

I'm having difficulty directing myself to learn about the components that would power such a system. I have found that some people have managed to achieve a similar project using an arduino mega with a series of other components, but (amongst other things) i find it difficult to figure out why they use that VS another system.

Can anyone help direct me to the sort of googling I'll need to do? I.E. if it were building a computer you might suggest something like: 1. CPU 2. Motherboard 3. HDD etc

Another design constraint of my project is that I will need to reposition the LEDs / Sculptures from time to time and so I wonder if there is a 'hot swappable' system that can span across the base of the wall that I can just plug LED's in and out of.

I would like to control the LED system through a program (that I will make) which connects to an online database to read an array which gives the LED's their colour value.

Thank you for your time and consideration in advance.

Kind regards, Mikey Musch.

with these amount of LEDS and distances you should think of a distributed system of processors, each controlling a subset (~50) of the LEDS. These processors are connected wireless e.g. by Bluetooth [ or wired by RS485 ] to a central node that acts as the master controller.

The technique you might need to take a look at - http://www.instructables.com/id/Controlling-20-Leds-from-5-Arduino-pins-using-Cha/ -

There was a Thread about something similar - a large public installation - on the Forum perhaps 12 months ago. I know the person got their system to work and posted a video but I can't remember the name of the Thread. Google may be able to find it.

...R

Thank you for your assistance guys.

I'd love to make a small version of this 'master controller speaks to many nodes' system If someone can recommend me the tools i'd need to get started that would be great.

This is what i'm thinking...

Components: 1---[u]The master controller:[/u] -------An Arduino (what type for my project?) -------A PC (already owned) -------A way to wirelessly connect to the nodes (is that also powered by USB?) 2---[u]The Node of LEDs[/u] -------The LED's themselves (anyone know a high brightness small profile (coin sized) RGB LED?) -------The wires to connect the LEDs to their controller (again something I'm unsure about) -------The LED controller responsible for receiving information from the Master controller (not sure about this technology) -------The power supply for the controller/LED (what sort of power supply is required?)

If someone can answer these questions with even just the type of technology used, I can then go to google and learn about what that tech does and then maybe I can figure out what I'd need and how it would all be connected.

Ideally I'd like to make a small version which is just the Master controller and two nodes, each node with a few LEDs so I can make a small scale program.

Thanks again!

This is the other Thread that I was thinking about.

I had a read through that thread but honestly I think i need to take a step back and start from the beginning.

I'm still not familiar with the exact role of the arduinos, nor their 'nodes' let alone how the LEDs are addressed / wired / or powered!

Can anyone recommend some sort of introductory resource for these technologies?

hi

i was think you could use the DMX protocal to controll your lets. and you get you a idea.

DMX is used by ALL lightnight company's, vanue's, discos, theaters. everyone that like to do something with lights.

the DMX protocal works with a Lightning desk/console or software (you will need a USB-> DMX converter but this can also be made with Arduino)

and how does it work: you need a lightning desk to send the information.(MASTER) and you need some other Arduinos (SLAVES to listen to the DMX information) you can set the adress by dipswitch or just programm the Adress on the arduino. (there is also a realy easy DMX libary for arduino)

and the nice thing about it is you can easly daisychain the arduinos to eachother and you can add allmost 500M of cable between master and all the slaves.

and with software like Freestyler, mardix you can create a BIG led WALL as a Matrix. and if you dont want this you can controll all the leds induviduel.

If you want to work with about 20 LEDs they can each be controlled directly from the I/O pins on an Arduino UNO, and a Mega (which is more expensive) could directly control about 50.

When you need to control larger numbers the usual technique is to use shift registers which can receive 8 bits of data from an Arduino telling it which of the 8 LEDs should be lit. It will then keep them lit while the Arduino does other things (like send data to different shift registers). Googling "Arduino shift register" should get you lots of information.

Another thing that you may have to take account of is the power consumption of individual LEDs. The Arduino pins can provide about 20mA safely (without damage to the Arduino) and I don't know what current a shift register could provide. If your LEDs need a higher current you will need extra components to allow the higher current to be switched. And, sorry, but the details of what to use are beyond my knowledge.

And, of course, you also need to take account of the combined power consumption of all of the LEDs and provide a suitable power supply.

...R

PS. I wrote this in parallel with @spirit's Post and you can guess that I have no knowledge of the stuff he mentions.

Thanks for the response Robin, I grabbed an Arduino for dummies today and It's got me thinking a lot more soundly.

I naturally came across another question,

Is it possible to custom make my RGB LED so that it can fit around a certain bolt I plan to use in the build? I.E. an LED with a donut shaped body?

Anyone know the methodology for creating your own PCB etc etc?

miklossmusch: Is it possible to custom make my RGB LED so that it can fit around a certain bolt I plan to use in the build? I.E. an LED with a donut shaped body?

I don't know what you mean. LEDs are made by the million in large factories.

Maybe you mean that you want to install several LEDs in a circle around something?

...R

miklossmusch:
Hello,

1000-1200 individually addressable high-brightness LEDs.

The wall spans 40m wide with a height of 4m. the sculptures are scattered across the wall somewhat evenly, so wiring is a concern!

Another design constraint of my project is that I will need to reposition the LEDs

I would like to control the LED system to an online database to read an array
==>> which gives the LED’s their colour value.

1,200
color LEDs
individually addressable
repostionalble
40 meter width of project

just to make sure you have the main points.

program to come from database.

you say high brightness and small as possible.

size is a relative term, especially when you are talking about a 40 meter wide panel.

look at your monitor. you have over 1,000 LED's across your screen. they are so small that there are about 10 across the minus sign -

a common surface mount LED that is tiny, is the size of the head of a pin. color ones, a bit larger.

high brightness, think car headlight. would actually blind a person if they were too close.

the NEO-pixel is individually addressable, but it is neither excessively bright, nor relatively tiny.

if you look at a ballpark or outdoor road sign, they are made up of individual panels. each panel might contain 10,000 (100 x 100) LED's in a module that is 10 inches wide. they are capable of showing instant replays with HD TV quality.

it sounds like your unit would benefit from having a module with 64 LED's something manageable for the program and for power and for wiring.

thinking about this, one could have a module with tiny LEDs and another with larger LEDs and interlace them for different effects.

also, a 40 meter wide unit, would have about one every 4 CM, if in a line. spread over a 4m height, it would be like stars in the night sky.

Anyone know the methodology for creating your own PCB etc etc?

Yes there are people here who can do everything you talk about.

This is a serious project, both in time and money. Do you have the resources before we spend too much time on it :slight_smile:


Rob

How many LEDs, what kind, will be in each circle? How spread out will they be? Can connect a string of small microcontrollers with RS485 interface on each board with suitable LED driver, send commands to all boards in the string - with a unique address for one board or a global address for all boards - to tell the board(s) what to do with the LEDs. Probably similar to the DMX idea, but will be your design. Power distribution will need consideration as well.

To summarize, It seems like this is what the system will look like:

[u]PC/u | | (usb connection) V [u]Arduino Master[/u] | | (wireless connection) V [u]Many Arduino Slaves[/u] | | (what device goes between the Arduino Slave and the LED?) V [u]Many LEDs/u

So my current queries are: 1. Am I able to pick a SMD RGB LED, create a donut shaped PCB to attach it to (shape for mounting purposes) ---- Where does this sort of process occur and how can I learn about it? 2. What device should be used to speak between the Arduinos? 3. What device goes between the Slave Arduino and the LEDs so that they're individually addressable?

Thanks again all for your contribution! I've got a dummy's guide for Arduino and my first arduino starter kit should be shipping tomorrow (:

To reply to Graynomad - I have a budget of $10,000AUD for the components

to reply to CrossRoads -
I’m hoping there will be 4 LEDs in each ‘donut’
They will be spread out a maximum distance of about 1m from the nearest, and a closest of maybe 10cm. Its really hard to tell because the location depends on the sculpture which is in progress!

The RS485 sounds interesting, do I basically attach it to an Arduino Slave, then tell my program (for example),

    • “locate arduino slave 5 microcontroller 3, make colour xyz” ?

I have a budget of $10,000AUD for the components

OK, that's good.

I'm hoping there will be 4 LEDs in each 'donut'

So is that 1000 LEDs or 1000 donuts?


Rob

Wow thank you for bringing that up!

4000 LEDs - 1000 donuts

is this sort of thing considerably more expensive then say a high powered 20mm round RGB LED chip with 3 LED's on it?

you can pick any LED device you want. if you can find an LED you like for shape, or brightness. you can select that first.

only after you have picked what LED you want to use, you then select the driver or power side.

once you have the LED and driver, you need to interface to the Arduino.

this is all very easy.

as for the final mounting, anything goes. the LED could be mounted on a postage stamp sized board with holes to use for mounting. then just wire that to your module board.

we would be happy to guide you through the different processes, but the more exact your first choice is, the easier it is for us to offer guidance.

I would recommend that you pick the LED based on the output you want, figure out how many LEDs per ‘module’ and then make one module. then test it.

BTW, a PCB or printed circuit board, is sold by the square CM. you find most electronics are small, matchbook or dollar bill size because of costs. it is much easier to make 1,000 little boards than to make one board that is a meter square

miklossmusch: So my current queries are: 1. Am I able to pick a SMD RGB LED, create a donut shaped PCB to attach it to (shape for mounting purposes) ---- Where does this sort of process occur and how can I learn about it?

the layout is something you would pick based on where you want the LED's and then the rest of the electronics to drive the LED's would be either in-between, on the back or on a separate one.

http://fritzing.org/home/ is an introductory and free program that is intuitive.

if your doughnut is 5cm x 5cm or less, it fits into the mainstream simple and cheap, 10x10cm costs about twice the price. from there prices are typically based on square CM. I would offer than you may be better off making many smaller boards and then mounting them on a backing. this would allow you to move the lights around more easily.