Author Topic: Sequential tail lights  (Read 8394 times)

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Offline Mr. Scram

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #75 on: September 30, 2018, 12:49:04 am »
I've tried to model a version of the initial concept in the Falstad simulator, but unfortunately the shift registers don't come with a reset or power. Resetting them in one go isn't really possible like it is in real life.
 

Offline robjodicarter

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #76 on: September 30, 2018, 12:54:43 am »
I don't understand?
I've tried to model a version of the initial concept in the Falstad simulator, but unfortunately the shift registers don't come with a reset or power. Resetting them in one go isn't really possible like it is in real life.

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Offline Mr. Scram

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #77 on: September 30, 2018, 01:16:37 am »
I don't understand?
I've tried to model a version of the initial concept in the Falstad simulator, but unfortunately the shift registers don't come with a reset or power. Resetting them in one go isn't really possible like it is in real life.

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It's just a generic remark not directly related to your more recent posts. I've tried to model what you initially requested in a simulator, but unfortunately that wasn't quite possible.

If you're looking at programmable LEDs, you'll need a library to have your Arduino communicate with them. Luckily these are readily available. I'd advise you to look at something like the Adafruit Neopixel guide. They'll walk you through the steps needed to get things going. FYI Adafruit branded programmable LEDs are called Neopixels, but they're generally the same as unbranded ones. Make sure you're using the same type though, but that is also touched upon in the guide.

https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-neopixel-uberguide/the-magic-of-neopixels
 

Offline robjodicarter

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #78 on: September 30, 2018, 01:18:49 am »
That is what gave me the idea!!!! Neopixels are great!!! But super expensive. I just have no idea how to code and if I should get a book on it or take classes or?
I don't understand?
I've tried to model a version of the initial concept in the Falstad simulator, but unfortunately the shift registers don't come with a reset or power. Resetting them in one go isn't really possible like it is in real life.

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It's just a generic remark not directly related to your more recent posts. I've tried to model what you initially requested in a simulator, but unfortunately that wasn't quite possible.

If you're looking at programmable LEDs, you'll need a library to have your Arduino communicate with them. Luckily these are readily available. I'd advise you to look at something like the Adafruit Neopixel guide. They'll walk you through the steps needed to get things going. FYI Adafruit branded programmable LEDs are called Neopixels, but they're generally the same as unbranded ones. Make sure you're using the same type though, but that is also touched upon in the guide.

https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-neopixel-uberguide/the-magic-of-neopixels

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Offline Mr. Scram

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #79 on: September 30, 2018, 01:29:05 am »
That is what gave me the idea!!!! Neopixels are great!!! But super expensive. I just have no idea how to code and if I should get a book on it or take classes or?
Luckily for you, Neopixels and the cheaper no name pixels that do exactly the same are very popular and a lot of guides exist online. Have you already read the guide I linked? It shouldn't be too hard to get things working or learn more by following a few guides. We can always help to fill in the gaps.

I don't think you need classes, but learning to program and learn more about Arduinos is a rather rewarding endeavour. Here too many, many resources exist on the internet so it shouldn't be too hard to get going. When you get the hang of it, you'll probably think of a few other things you can do!
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #80 on: September 30, 2018, 02:30:51 am »
... now I just need to find the easiest and best way to control them. I was looking for different types of controllers for the automotive use but I think my best bet is to go with an Arduino uno board. I just don't know the first thing about writing code for this at all.

Baby steps.

The Arduino kit you've nominated has a Tutorial.  I have no idea whether it will be good or bad - but I would suggest you start off by running through that tutorial on your own.  Having been a mechanic, you will have learned how to be logical and methodical - so just step through the tutorial, making sure you understand each step before moving on.  If you get stuck, you can always bring your questions here.

The LED panel you have chosen is not a bad choice.  It has the control electronics for each pixel built in and all you have to provide is power and a signal. 

The power requirements for the LED panel are 5V at up to 4A (when every pixel is at maximum brightness) per panel, so you will need a 12V to 5V power unit capable of 8A or two capable of 4A.  The two unit option would be my preferred solution.  You could keep one close to each panel (reducing the distance 5V has to travel is a good thing).  Also, it might be wise to consider a unit designed for vehicular use, because automotive power isn't renowned for being well behaved.

The signal is a something you won't need to know too much about, since there are routines already written by others that take care of that.  The FastLED library for Arduino seems to be a popular choice.  You only have to worry about passing on the information as to how you want your LEDs to be lit

BUT don't worry about that just yet.  Get your Arduino and run through the tutorial.  Try a couple of programs (the Arduino crowd calls them 'sketches') and then try something simple of your own design.

Don't be tempted to get stuck into the LED panels too soon.  Programming is like learning to drive.  You haven't got your 'L's yet and programming the LED panel is like rally car driving.  Don't try getting ahead of yourself or you might crash and burn.  On the other hand, you might find yourself with a natural talent, in which case all we will need to do is point you in the right direction and you'll take to it like a duck to water.

One thing that you will find is that there are many examples of Arduino programming to be found on the internet.  Developing your Google-fu can prove very useful here.  Some of them are not wonderful and others are truly brilliant.  I'm sure you've encountered similar things in other areas of life, so you will know what I mean.  With programming, though, you can have a progeam that is not written to the best standards - but it will work well enough for the purpose ... and because the ugliness is hidden inside a silicon chip, it can live a full and productive life, devoid of criticism.  Often these shaky lives are in a commercial environment, yet they hang on well enough for their creators to be kept in employment.

The bottom line is - if you find something that works well enough for your needs, you don't really need to rewrite it or polish it up or change it in any way.  It's like a kludge in the engine bay of a car - if it works safely and reliably, just don't look under the bonnet and nobody will be the wiser.


Anyway - for now, just get your Arduino kit, run through the tutorial and see how you go.
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #81 on: September 30, 2018, 02:39:06 am »
Yes, the Neopixels are a bit pricey - but Adafruit provide a one-stop-shop solution by providing panels of consistent quality and support of those panels.  It's a great option for people who have the passion and the cash but are not as proficient in the technical side as others.   That's what you are paying for.

With a little effort on your part, you can get the same result by swapping cash for time.  This also provides you with a more detailed education - which means you will be able to do more on your own.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2018, 02:40:40 am by Brumby »
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #82 on: September 30, 2018, 04:33:18 pm »
Just keep in mind that programming can be a very deep rabbit hole. You might get something working to some extent in a few weeks starting from zero, but it normally takes a couple years of steady practice to really get proficient. There's a reason software developers make good money, it's not easy to do well. Properly testing your code is another discipline in itself.
 

Offline Mr. Scram

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #83 on: September 30, 2018, 05:12:16 pm »
Just keep in mind that programming can be a very deep rabbit hole. You might get something working to some extent in a few weeks starting from zero, but it normally takes a couple years of steady practice to really get proficient. There's a reason software developers make good money, it's not easy to do well. Properly testing your code is another discipline in itself.
There are very few people who do it well, so don't be too daunted. There are plenty of not very competent programmers making good money.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #84 on: September 30, 2018, 06:16:25 pm »
Yes I'm just a little concerned about a total beginner trying to grasp the electronics side and the firmware side all at once while building something that may be a critical safety feature on a road going car. It's certainly possible to do, but it's easy to bite off more than one can chew.
 
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Offline robjodicarter

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #85 on: September 30, 2018, 06:46:37 pm »
The vehicle is an off road vehicle only, it's registered that way. And yes maybe I'm shooting for the moon but I catch on quick, and have a little experience with electronics (DC) side anyway. I think I'll be good I have allot of support here, and I think I'll be good.
Yes I'm just a little concerned about a total beginner trying to grasp the electronics side and the firmware side all at once while building something that may be a critical safety feature on a road going car. It's certainly possible to do, but it's easy to bite off more than one can chew.

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Offline Brumby

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #86 on: October 01, 2018, 02:11:51 am »
Yes I'm just a little concerned about a total beginner trying to grasp the electronics side and the firmware side all at once while building something that may be a critical safety feature on a road going car. It's certainly possible to do, but it's easy to bite off more than one can chew.

Agreed - but if it was a road-going vehicle, I would not be advocating this project, let alone assisting.

Also - the programming rabbit hole can, indeed, be deep, but I am guiding things along a learning path that the OP will, hopefully, be able to traverse.  If he's been a half-decent mechanic, then he will have a logical mind - which is the biggest requirement.  I don't see bringing him up to speed on the basics of programming to be a worry.  Where I see the challenge will be in the best way to store the information about the animations ... but I think we will get there.  Baby steps.


And - yes - there are some very ordinary programmers out in the world making good money.  The stories I could tell......................................................
 

Offline robjodicarter

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #87 on: October 01, 2018, 02:52:53 am »
If I begin with a mega 2560 that should have enough space for now or I can store code on my phone I have a Arduino program on my phone so I can transfer code for it also. Or is that a bad idea?
Yes I'm just a little concerned about a total beginner trying to grasp the electronics side and the firmware side all at once while building something that may be a critical safety feature on a road going car. It's certainly possible to do, but it's easy to bite off more than one can chew.

Agreed - but if it was a road-going vehicle, I would not be advocating this project, let alone assisting.

Also - the programming rabbit hole can, indeed, be deep, but I am guiding things along a learning path that the OP will, hopefully, be able to traverse.  If he's been a half-decent mechanic, then he will have a logical mind - which is the biggest requirement.  I don't see bringing him up to speed on the basics of programming to be a worry.  Where I see the challenge will be in the best way to store the information about the animations ... but I think we will get there.  Baby steps.


And - yes - there are some very ordinary programmers out in the world making good money.  The stories I could tell......................................................

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Offline Brumby

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #88 on: October 01, 2018, 05:14:30 am »
Starting with a Mega 2560 is not a bad idea.  It has 256K of flash memory for storing your program - and since the animations will (for one approach) require storing data for each frame, you might need a bit of storage.

Having such a big (well, for an Arduino) playground will allow you to be less worried about optimisation and allow you to focus on getting something working.  Once you get it working, you can see what resources are being used and you can then look at optimisation if you want.

I use a Mega 2560 ADK board (it has USB host) for my base development platform.  Once I get something new working, I then look at fitting the program into a cheaper/smaller board for implementation.

As for working on an App, that might be OK for you, but I'm too comfortable with a PC, keyboard and mouse - and two 27" screens to consider working that way.  I have no feedback on whether the App is good or not.
 

Offline robjodicarter

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #89 on: October 01, 2018, 11:12:27 am »
What about this? As a kit?
Starting with a Mega 2560 is not a bad idea.  It has 256K of flash memory for storing your program - and since the animations will (for one approach) require storing data for each frame, you might need a bit of storage.

Having such a big (well, for an Arduino) playground will allow you to be less worried about optimisation and allow you to focus on getting something working.  Once you get it working, you can see what resources are being used and you can then look at optimisation if you want.

I use a Mega 2560 ADK board (it has USB host) for my base development platform.  Once I get something new working, I then look at fitting the program into a cheaper/smaller board for implementation.

As for working on an App, that might be OK for you, but I'm too comfortable with a PC, keyboard and mouse - and two 27" screens to consider working that way.  I have no feedback on whether the App is good or not.


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Offline Mr. Scram

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #90 on: October 01, 2018, 11:43:45 am »
If I begin with a mega 2560 that should have enough space for now or I can store code on my phone I have a Arduino program on my phone so I can transfer code for it also. Or is that a bad idea?
I don't think I've ever seen anyone developing using an app, but that doesn't mean it's impossible.
 

Offline robjodicarter

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #91 on: October 01, 2018, 11:58:45 am »
It's an app called Arduino Droid. I won't really use it to write the code but it will be easier to upload the code via phone thru the app.

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Offline Brumby

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #92 on: October 01, 2018, 04:42:16 pm »
... but it will be easier to upload the code via phone thru the app.
Really?

What would you be using to write the code on?
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #93 on: October 01, 2018, 04:49:30 pm »
What about this? As a kit?


That will be more than enough to get you started.  Of course if you get bitten by the Arduino bug, you might find yourself yearning for lots of other extras ... but I'm sticking with the LED exercises you've mentioned.

It should also be more than adequate to drive your two 32x8 panels, but you will still need a couple of buck converters to get the 5V 4A power required by those panels.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2018, 04:51:26 pm by Brumby »
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #94 on: October 01, 2018, 05:02:27 pm »
Here is one example of the sort of power modules I'm talking about that I found on Amazon:
[2-PACK] 5A DC 36V 24V 12V to 5V Regulator Module Buck Converter Voltage Regulator Adjustable Step Down Converter with Heat Sink
by D-PLANET




Adjustable to 5V output with 5A capacity - which is a nice bit of headroom - and $8.99 for the two (plus shipping)

This is not an endorsement of these modules - just the first suitable ones I found on Amazon.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2018, 05:04:50 pm by Brumby »
 

Offline robjodicarter

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #95 on: October 01, 2018, 06:01:52 pm »
I will be using a Toshiba laptop top Windows XP, I know it's old but it's my garage computer. And what should I get to power the boards on the bench?


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Offline Mr. Scram

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #96 on: October 01, 2018, 06:20:08 pm »
I will be using a Toshiba laptop top Windows XP, I know it's old but it's my garage computer. And what should I get to power the boards on the bench?


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A proper power supply is definitely a good tool to have, but any old wall wart should do.
 

Offline robjodicarter

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #97 on: October 02, 2018, 03:16:06 am »
So any 5 volt how many amp? I'll look it up. I'm a big boy. I should be getting all this stuff soon. I will let you know when I get it all. I'll be asking tons of questions I imagine.
Rob

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Offline Brumby

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #98 on: October 02, 2018, 04:13:29 am »
For the very first projects, the Arduino board can run off the 5V it gets from USB.  With this, you will be able to learn how to use the Arduino and get some low power projects running.  I would suggest that once you have run through a few tutorials, you try getting the Arduino to do the original sequential tail light effect you wanted - just using low power LEDs on the breadboard.  This would not be producing bright LEDs that you could use on a vehicle - it would just be a programming exercise in getting the LEDs to do what you want.

The specifications for your 32x8 LED panels put them at just under 20W (at full brightness) each - which at 5V means 4A.  The modules I mentioned can do up to 5A, so they should be able to handle 4A quite comfortably.  However, this is waaaaaaayyyyyyyy more than you can get out of USB, so you will need a separate supply.

For experimentation and bench testing, the normal recommendation is to get a lab-style bench supply that can deliver the volts and amps you will need.  There are a lot of options here, but it will require you to fork out a few dollars.  The up side is that such an acquisition will be an investment in the future and is the equivalent of getting yourself a decent set of combination spanners instead of trying get by with a couple of shifters.  For your needs, a dual output 0-20V 5A adjustable power supply would be my suggestion - but you might also find 0-30V 5A units at a competitive price.  Some of these have a third output, fixed at 5V at an amp or more, which can be useful.  Here is one example On eBay (used) and another On Amazon (new)
These are just the first units I found on eBay and Amazon - but this type of unit is available in many flavours.

Plug packs are another option - but for two lots of 4A, I think you might be challenged to find suitable ones.

However, for your situation and looking at the 32x8 panels, a simple 12V car battery sitting on your workbench would do nicely.  Connect the buck power modules to the battery and the LED panels to the buck modules.  The Arduino can be powered from the USB while being developed, but can then be powered from the battery using the DC barrel jack connection.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2018, 04:30:33 am by Brumby »
 

Offline Mr. Scram

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Re: Sequential tail lights
« Reply #99 on: October 02, 2018, 12:11:11 pm »
So any 5 volt how many amp? I'll look it up. I'm a big boy. I should be getting all this stuff soon. I will let you know when I get it all. I'll be asking tons of questions I imagine.
Rob

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5V might be too little for the Arduino. This is because it has its own regulator on board which will eat up a bit of the 5V you supply it. You may want to look up what voltage regulator drop out voltage is.
 


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