Return to the Stars

Lil’ Gideon’s lucky bolo tie progress:

At the most recent Ikkicon, I cosplayed as Lil’ Gideon. I had a pretty good glowing bolo tie, but it wasn’t as sophisticated as I had hoped it would be. I had the base printed in stainless steel, and the dome printed in a translucent plastic-like material using TinkerCAD and ShapewaysI wanted to have an array of LEDs inside the amulet displaying several complex animation to give the impression of energy swirling around inside.  But, time ran out, and I ended up with only a single LED that faded in and out. So now I’m trying to get the whole thing working for San Japan 6.

I had to get new dome from Shapeways because I broke the one I used at Ikkicon while opening the amulet back up. The new one is an exact duplicate, but I haven’t dyed it yet. The dye I used last time was more of a dark forest green, where as Gideon’s amulet is more of a light aqua, so I’ve ordered some more dyes and can hopefully get a better color match. Then I want to find some kind of clear-coat to put over it to give it a glassy look. 

The above photos show an array of 21 aqua colored LEDs (I have no idea why my phone camera made them look so blue, but you’ll just have to take my word that that’s not what they look like.) which are hooked up to three shift registers (the small black chips in the breadboard), which are in turn being controlled with an Arduino Mega. Right now I’m till tweaking the programing that controls the LEDs, so for now they are just hooked up with alligator clips. Eventually they’ll be connected to the circuitry through long ,thin, wires that will run through the bolo tie’s cords and down to my belt where the batteries and electronics will be housed. 

I decided to forgo pre-made animations because I realized that they would probably exceed the Arduino’s memory capacity, and the existing code for converting animated GIFs to LED animations was going to be difficult to adapt to my project (it was written to read the GIFs from a computer). Instead, I’m using code to generate the animations in real time.

Basically, there’s an imaginary point that moves around, and the distance from each LED to that point is calculated, and then brightness values are assigned to each LED based on that distance. That happens about 60 times a second. 

I’m still playing with the rules that govern that point’s movement, and the LEDs’ brightness, but the code is mostly working now. The next hurdle will be running the wires through the bolo tie’s ‘cords.’ Just doing one for Ikkicon took a long time. 

IF time permits, I may also try to add sound effects

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  6. freshprinceofgothamcity said: duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuudddeee this is so rad omg