Author Topic: Looking for advice on project - Clear Controller  (Read 3255 times)

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Offline _phil

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Looking for advice on project - Clear Controller
« on: February 14, 2017, 11:51:04 am »

Hi Everyone,


I’m a recent Computer Engineer graduate in need of some advice. Clear Controller is a project I’ve been working on for over a year, and after some positive feedback, I’m trying to determine the best way to get this to others. I have not started any campaigns, nor is this post a campaign. I'm only looking for some feedback on the idea itself, the options/features that are implemented thus far, and whether I should pursue a campaign or open-source approach.


About the project:


What is it?
Clear Controller is an all in one solution designed for PC’s and laptops. It’s an Arduino based fan controller, RGB LED controller, and real time monitoring system. It includes a 20x4 LCD for displaying statistics, MOSFET driven LED and fan controls, and a Windows Presentation Foundation app.


Who needs it?
With the ability to do so much, or so little if you just like one aspect of it, Clear Controller can be used by anyone who wants to personalize their PC and display useful information on an LCD so full screen apps will not interfere. With it, you feel more connected and informed about what’s going on with your PC at any time.


What does it do?
There are 3 main components to Clear Controller: data statistics, LED controls, and fan controls.


1.   Statistics
Data is gathered using OpenHardwareMonitor libraries and includes the following:
CPU/GPU Data:
Core temps, frequencies, usages (%).
Memory (RAM):
Frequencies, free and used RAM.
Fans
Speed, voltage.

All data is displayed on the 20x4 LCD with variable options for layouts



2.   LED Controls
The LED functions are broken up into 4 sub categories:


Static colors:
Chosen by a color picker or pre-defined colors. Any combination of R (0 - 255), G (0 - 255), B (0 – 255), and brightness (0%-100%) is an option.


Patterns:
Fan Strobe – My favorite pattern, it strobes the LED’s to make the fans in your system appear to stop, rotate backwards, or move slowly. There is a rate slider that allows you to get the perfect effect.
Breathing - Again chosen by a color picker and a rate slider - LEDs fade in and out.
Spectrum – LED colors change following the visible spectrum with adjustable rate slider.
Pulse – Similar to breathing but more like a strobe.


Load Controlled:
The load of the CPU or GPU can be used to change the LED effect. The options at this time are:


Follow RGB Spectrum – Users can adjust a range slider for a starting color and ending color based on the load of either the CPU or GPU. For instance, CPU @ 0% color=blue, CPU @ 100% color=red. The algorithm will follow the visible spectrum for every value between. Think ROYGBIV.


Adjust brightness – With this option the LED’s change brightness based on load and a user selected color, the lower the load the lower the brightness.


Audio Controlled:
The LEDs also respond to audio with two distinct options.


Audio controlled colors – Audio is sampled and broken into frequency ranges, peak detected, and the dB measured (relative to the rest of the song or another audio source). The user has three options, Bass color (60-250Hz), Mid color (250Hz – 1kHz) and sensitivity. The color displayed is based on the peak dB freq and mapped relative to the previous maximum dB to adjust the brightness.


Audio controlled fan strobe – I stumbled upon this while working on a completely different part of the project, but it is a unique effect. The same algorithm used to control colors is  used to strobe the LEDs at high frequencies to make the fans in your system appear to stop, slow down, reverse, etc based on the audio source, the freq range, and the dB. The fans remain at the same RPM the entire time so system performance is not hindered.


3.   Fan Controls
At this time, there are only a couple of options for fan controls – manual adjustment, and following a user defined curve with fan speed relative to temperature.






All of the features/components mentioned are working and have been tested, but there is still work to be done, especially on the UI.


Similar components are available to purchase separately at a relatively high cost, but not integrated through a Windows application. The main issue with current LCD based temperature monitoring is the requirement to put external temp sensors between the CPU and the heat-sink, this is highly undesirable, and it is prone to inaccuracies. Clear Controller uses the CPU's and motherboard's built in sensors to display this information. The next closest thing available is the NZXT Hue+ which wasn't available when I started working on this  :palm: but with all the options it gets quite expensive.


Nevertheless, I am working tirelessly to bring this to everyone and look forward to your feedback and suggestions.
My next endeavor is UI modifications and determining whether to go open-source or start a campaign to fund it.


And some screenshots are attached, because of course pics or it didn't happen  :-+











 

Offline trophosphere

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Re: Looking for advice on project - Clear Controller
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2017, 12:37:46 pm »
A table comparing your project to other commercial offerings (e.g. Matrix Orbital) would be good. I have to say that the GUI of your program used to setup the LCD looks pretty nice.
 

Offline _phil

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Re: Looking for advice on project - Clear Controller
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2017, 12:47:31 pm »
A table comparing your project to other commercial offerings (e.g. Matrix Orbital) would be good. I have to say that the GUI of your program used to setup the LCD looks pretty nice.

I came across matrixorbital a while back - like them, OLED is something I am very interested in implementing for this project .. I'll check a little deeper and see what they have to offer. Thanks for the suggestion and the compliment :)
 

Offline thm_w

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Re: Looking for advice on project - Clear Controller
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2017, 08:34:59 am »
I agree GUI is good, what did you make that in?
 

Offline _phil

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Re: Looking for advice on project - Clear Controller
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2017, 10:06:23 am »
I agree GUI is good, what did you make that in?

Thanks, it was developed in Visual Studio.
 

Offline julianhigginson

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Re: Looking for advice on project - Clear Controller
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2017, 01:03:02 pm »
It looks cool, though I'm not your target market, being a laptop only guy for a few years now.

I expect this is the sort of thing the gamer or case modder community would be in to? Not sure those people care so much about open source so much as simplicity of use and reliability. If you could build in decent alarm functionality and work out a good remote warning system with customisable threshold triggers for different things it's monitoring (and report alarms to a users phone in an app?) I could see it being marketed to people who run their own physical servers in their office or home.  Maybe then having it open source would be something people would like?

I guess you know similar products, so looking at who uses them and why, and what they cost and where they are sold and advertised, you can then look  at what you will offer that's different and how that will inform your approach to the market.

It could be worth identifying a reasonable number of the relevant scene bloggers/vbloggers and just at this stage try to talk to them about what their needs/wants are in regards to something like this (pure market research for you - DO NOT send them info on your device or screenshots like you posted here. Work on a pure features/benefits discussion and get them to talk about what they like with no corruption from your current ideas) then on top of hving some good market research done, you've made some contacts where you've shown that you think they are important and you value their opinion... So you might get more attention when you try to have them review and promote a product eventually.
 

Offline _phil

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Re: Looking for advice on project - Clear Controller
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2017, 01:17:29 pm »
It looks cool, though I'm not your target market, being a laptop only guy for a few years now.

I expect this is the sort of thing the gamer or case modder community would be in to? Not sure those people care so much about open source so much as simplicity of use and reliability. If you could build in decent alarm functionality and work out a good remote warning system with customisable threshold triggers for different things it's monitoring (and report alarms to a users phone in an app?) I could see it being marketed to people who run their own physical servers in their office or home.  Maybe then having it open source would be something people would like?

I guess you know similar products, so looking at who uses them and why, and what they cost and where they are sold and advertised, you can then look  at what you will offer that's different and how that will inform your approach to the market.

It could be worth identifying a reasonable number of the relevant scene bloggers/vbloggers and just at this stage try to talk to them about what their needs/wants are in regards to something like this (pure market research for you - DO NOT send them info on your device or screenshots like you posted here. Work on a pure features/benefits discussion and get them to talk about what they like with no corruption from your current ideas) then on top of hving some good market research done, you've made some contacts where you've shown that you think they are important and you value their opinion... So you might get more attention when you try to have them review and promote a product eventually.

I really like the idea of adding a remote alarm notification to Android/iOS - this is definitely something I can add in, could even issue a shutdown request from the phone. You're right about the target market, it's mainly case modders/desktop gamers etc. although its just connected through USB ( or maybe a Bluetooth connection at some point) so laptops could make some use of it also, maybe to control their ambient lighting - something I've seen a lot of lately.

I'm going to post some questions over on Overclock.net and some of the other DIY forums to see what they might be looking for in an "all-in-one" type of solution, and see where the bloggers and reviewers hang out so I can get their attention.

Thanks for taking the time to give me some very good advice, it is greatly appreciated!
 

Offline ebastler

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Re: Looking for advice on project - Clear Controller
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2017, 01:48:10 am »
The setup program looks so cool that the actual LCD is actually a bit of a let-down...
Have you considered a display-less version, which sends the information to a smartphone or tablet instead? (Or in addition to the LCD?)
 

Offline _phil

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Re: Looking for advice on project - Clear Controller
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2017, 05:36:10 am »
The setup program looks so cool that the actual LCD is actually a bit of a let-down...
Have you considered a display-less version, which sends the information to a smartphone or tablet instead? (Or in addition to the LCD?)

I was afraid someone would say that. I was thinking of an alternate LCD like a TFT or OLED panel that looks much better, or bluetooth/wifi between the PC and phone. I'm just not sure if people are willing to use their phone for this sort of thing. Maybe if I include more features with the app users would be more inclined - I'll come up with some new ideas for it.

Thanks for the great feedback!
 


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