Author Topic: The AllPixel - A USB Controller for Programmable LEDs  (Read 5837 times)

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Offline adammhaile

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The AllPixel - A USB Controller for Programmable LEDs
« on: November 10, 2014, 12:52:04 am »



Working with addressable LED strips, we’ve found that the extra components required to communicate with and power these strips complicate designs and limit the options for how they can be used. To get around this, we’ve developed the AllPixel. Think of it as a video card for your LED strips.

The AllPixel is a small device that provides easy USB control of all the major addressable LED strips. It runs on an ATMega32u4 sporting a customized version of the Teensy core. It is compatible with Linux, Mac, and Windows platforms and is capable of driving up to 680 LEDs at high frame rates. A barrel jack simplifies external power connections and optional user-installed parts allow for a variety of hook-up configurations. It currently supports the following chipsets: LPD8806, WS2801, WS2812/WS2811 (NeoPixel), TM1809, TM1803, UCS1903, SM16716.

The AllPixel design and firmware, and the supporting Python library, BiblioPixel, are open source and available on GitHub.

To help get the AllPixel into the hands of LED lovers at a reasonable cost, we’re launching a Kickstarter to help fund an initial run of the boards.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1101128588/allpixel-usb-interface-for-all-your-led-needs/

Please check it out and let us know what you think. And support us, if you’d like :)
Thanks for your time!

Maniacal Labs
(Dan Ternes and Adam Haile)
 

Offline hamster_nz

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Re: The AllPixel - A USB Controller for Programmable LEDs
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2014, 01:04:34 am »
Hi Dan Ternes and Adam Haile,

I'm happy to be backer #1 - hope the kickstarter goes well!
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Offline adammhaile

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Re: The AllPixel - A USB Controller for Programmable LEDs
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2014, 04:28:40 am »
Thanks so much @hamster_nz! So far, so good!
 

Offline hamster_nz

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Re: The AllPixel - A USB Controller for Programmable LEDs
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2014, 08:00:30 pm »
Congratulations on making your funding!

Hope that your stretch goal doesn't involve too much re-engineering :D

PS. A few GPIO pins / pads on the PCB would be nice, just so you can hook in a switch or two....

PPS. You kicktraq looks pretty good (https://www.kicktraq.com/projects/1101128588/allpixel-usb-interface-for-all-your-led-needs/ for  those playing along at home, as Dave says)
« Last Edit: November 11, 2014, 08:03:27 pm by hamster_nz »
Gaze not into the abyss, lest you become recognized as an abyss domain expert, and they expect you keep gazing into the damn thing.
 

Offline adammhaile

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Re: The AllPixel - A USB Controller for Programmable LEDs
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2014, 08:06:41 pm »
Thanks! Can't say too much just yet (we're still nailing down the details - had no idea it would be this quick) but nothing currently planned will involve and hardware redesign. But who knows... our main focus right now is getting it to backers on time. There will be some new features though :) Stay tuned... announcement should be soon.
 

Offline adammhaile

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Re: The AllPixel - A USB Controller for Programmable LEDs
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2014, 12:26:48 pm »
Now I can say something :) We've added new stretch goals with some new features, including new supported chipsets!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1101128588/allpixel-usb-interface-for-all-your-led-needs/posts/1049057
 

Offline zapta

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Re: The AllPixel - A USB Controller for Programmable LEDs
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2014, 03:22:38 pm »
How does it compare to the Blinky Tape?
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Offline Kean

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Re: The AllPixel - A USB Controller for Programmable LEDs
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2014, 03:31:11 pm »
A comparison to FadeCandy would also be useful.
 

Offline adammhaile

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Re: The AllPixel - A USB Controller for Programmable LEDs
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2014, 03:49:30 pm »
@zapta - Blinky tape is more streamlined in terms of just plug it in and go but it's a lot more limited in what you can do with it.

The BlinkyTape is a single strip of 60 WS2812 (NeoPixel) LEDs, soldered directly to the controller board. Power is provided through USB only and you cannot add more pixels to the strip. There is no way to use any other type of LED strip or pixel density. They have a graphical UI for designing animations and a very simple API for coding them directly.

The AllPixel works with 8 different types of LED strips, including WS2812... and soon to be 12 types, if we hit our first stretch goal.
It can handle up to 680 pixels per controller and can provide power either through USB directly (for short runs) or with the on board 5A barrel jack.

We currently have no graphical designer (though we DO have a graphical display simulator) but have an extremely robust and feature filled programming API that is quite mature.

I'm not trying to knock the BlinkyTape... I have one and think it's awesome. Especially for those who want no programming involved. The AllPixel, however, is much more capable, but for slightly more advanced makers.

The FadeCandy is sort of between the BlinkyTape and AllPixel (with a few exceptions).

FadeCandy is also only for WS2812 strips. It can only handle up to 512 pixels but in 8 groups of 64. This is done for the sake of speed... WS2812 is really slow compared to others like the LPD8806 which can be clocked at up to 30MHz, whereas the WS2812 is limited to 800kHz. To get around this, they drive 8 lines at a time.

In practice, the AllPixel is a bit slower than the FadeCandy when updating WS2812 pixels, but my general opinion is that if you really need speed you should use something with a faster clock rate. I can push my 24x24 LPD8806 display at well over 100 fps or more (depending on the animation) with no problem. The FadeCandy also has hardware temporal dithering for a little better color. The AllPixel does not currently, but I'm actually working on that right now.

But the AllPixel can do more pixels (and in one continuous strip for easier wiring) and has built in power input including the ability to power from USB, which the FadeCandy does not. Aside from that, all of the same advantages over the BlinkyTape I mentioned above still apply.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2014, 08:12:11 pm by adammhaile »
 

Offline Kean

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Re: The AllPixel - A USB Controller for Programmable LEDs
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2014, 03:56:32 pm »
Adam, excellent comparison - thanks!
 


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