Scrolling LED matrix, Arduino and GPS...

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triumph5ta
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Scrolling LED matrix, Arduino and GPS...

Postby triumph5ta » Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:26 pm

OK I have more imagination than experience so bear with me, here goes:
I have been asked to create an object for an exhibition which has motorcycles as its theme.
This is my project, The Digital Rebel!
A leather jacket with a design on the back incorporating an LED matrix. Surrounded by studs and skulls natch...
The LED matrix will be hand wired by me. The LEDS will show through little holes in the jacket. I have textile design students to do that, thats the easy bit.
The matrix will be 24 x 8 or maybe 16 x 8
It will be controlled by an Arduino.
The scrolling text will display the names and symbols of six fictional biker gangs, eg "Death Gang London", "Hell Boys Scotland" that kind of thing.
The Arduino will get input from a GPS module.
As the wearer rides around the Arduino gets the latitude and longitude from the GPS and sends output to the LED Matrix telling it which message to display.
There will be a "Panic Button" wired in to the right cuff of the jacket. Pressing this will change the display to "Fluffy Kittens touring club" or something like that.
Yes, its ridiculous I know. But that will not stop me!
Any suggestions for the Arduino code? Do I need another processor?
I have an Arduino Uno and a Sparkfun GPS shield and I have those talking to one another....

triumph5ta
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Re: Scrolling LED matrix, Arduino and GPS...

Postby triumph5ta » Thu Nov 08, 2012 10:53 pm

Can I use the LOL Shield to control LEDs not actually on the shield?
Instead of soldering the LEDS to the board I just run wires from the holes on the board to LEDs?
Adam.

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Re: Scrolling LED matrix, Arduino and GPS...

Postby vimes79 » Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:39 am

Hey Adam.
Thats quite a project you have ahead of you there!

I am not a big coder but I know enough to know that what your planning is possible but will require A LOT of code and quite possibly more than just your Uno just based on how much space the Uno has for holding the program/code.

With regards to the LoL shield... Yes technically it is possible to break the LED's all out onto wires BUT (And i'm saying this as a man who recently spent a very long weekend soldering a LoL shield in its standard setup (and im pretty handy with my soldering iron), its a beast to build and I think everyone here who has built one will tell you the same!) to break it out onto wires will require at least twice as many joints and a hell of a lot more time and a serious amount of patience!!!

One thing I was thinking about the other day while testing out a new Game of Life program to run on the LoL is that you could use long male header pins and have the LoL shield (as is) on one side of an item of clothing or material and the 'duino on the other with the pins holding it all in place and still making the circuit. On a thin item like a a T Shirt for example you could even get away with using the standard pins. If the size of the LoL shield is big enough for you to use then Its not too much of a task to do what you want. If you move away to a customised matrix or modifying your LoL then its going to get harder...

Outside of the LoL shield (because it does this for you) is the problem you're going to hit if you go for a different approach for your display and thats how to Charlieplex it correctly both in code and in the circuit. Charlieplexing although in theory is pretty simple to understand, is damn hard to get right when you go upwards from 12 or so LED's. Its another good reason for sticking with the LoL especially as there is a website where you can design all your animation step by step on a LoL Emulator Shield and it then churns away and outputs your (Basic) Arduino code for running the animation or whatever to copy and paste into your sketch. You can find it here : http://lolshield.falldeaf.com/index.php Hit the Create button to start.

I would say that (if not using my idea to simply push the LoL pins through the material and using the LoL as is) then breaking out the leds from the LoL is the easiest way to go as the hardware, library and most of the programming is already there, its just down to how much time and patience you have to break out the 126 LED's onto wires and then get them set in place neatly. It is do-able but it will be a monster job.

Another option would be to use a premade selectable multi message display like you see in shop windows, the back of Motorway Police cars and other places where a scrolling message is needed. They are easy to program the text into as all the hardware has been connected up and all done for you, so it would just mean plugging into your USB (or sometimes manually using built in buttons on the back of the casing) and setting the different messages and the scroll speeds and so on. Then strip the casings etc away to just the Circuits and LED's, BUT again you hit the issue of how to mount the LED's and any other hardware that it needs. If you did it like that then it would be fairly simple to then use an Arduino with the GPS Shield to Activate the switch or whatever the thing uses to swap messages by activating a relay when the GPS shows as being in a preset area (You would have to find a coder to tell you how to do it, but I have seen similar things done with these GPS shields and breakouts (although never an LED project). I know those LED Display things are available in 12V for cars etc so it would be deciding how to mount the LED's and deciding if you keep them together in whatever board or else is being used in the display already, OR if you again want to break out the LED's one by one and then stitch them into the Jacket in a neat way that looks good and works when displaying the message.

As I said, i'm not a big coder. There are some other guys here who are and may be able to advise on the coding and most likely the hardware too.
Failing that you could hit the official Arduino forums or some of the big Arduino forums around t'internet.

Good Luck! Its an interesting build idea, keep us posted on how you get on.
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triumph5ta
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Re: Scrolling LED matrix, Arduino and GPS...

Postby triumph5ta » Fri Nov 09, 2012 4:40 pm

Alright I take your point about the amount of work involved...
I think the GPS part might just have to remain a concept!
As this will be a static display I could just program about 6 different messages and just cycle through them.
But yeah, its a whole lot of solder....

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Re: Scrolling LED matrix, Arduino and GPS...

Postby vimes79 » Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:00 pm

You could just replace the GPS part of the build with a push switch that cycles the logo that is displayed. It would certainly cut down the amount of code and make the job a whole lot easier as the user can just click the switch when they move from one area to the next.

If you have the patience to do that amount of soldering work then it is certainly do-able by breaking out each LED from a LoL or another 3rd party LED matrix shield that has already been charlieplexed and has a library written for it. The LoL is a good size but I think one company make a slightly larger one I think its one row or column bigger (made by either SparkFun or Olimex). You could wire it up your self from scratch but as I said, C'plexing is a real pain, so its easier to use a pre made device on which the hard work is done for sure.

The more I think about this, the more simpler it seems. I have seen some really bonkers LED embedded clothing using the Arduino Lilypad (http://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/ArduinoBoardLilyPad) and special led's for clothing and even thread that lights up. It all comes down to how many hours you want to put in to it. For examples just look at some of the insanely big LED cubes, coffee tables and displays that have been made using an Arduino as the key...
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Re: Scrolling LED matrix, Arduino and GPS...

Postby phenoptix » Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:22 pm

I was thinking of building a large matrix in the style of these smaller ones http://www.phenoptix.com/products/adafruit-mini-8x8-led-matrix-w-i2c-backpack using the backpack to control them by I2C. Might be a good starting point. Not used any of the GPS stuff as yet but plan to for a bike project, so I can work with you on that. Also for a sew-able Arduino, I'm awaiting the Adafruit Floras which will probably be shipping this week or next. ( I hope to get some in!) The also do a sew-able GPS board and even a kit! https://www.adafruit.com/products/1090

Also love the humour of the panic button!

triumph5ta
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Re: Scrolling LED matrix, Arduino and GPS...

Postby triumph5ta » Fri Nov 09, 2012 6:09 pm

Thanks, just ordered a LOL Shield.
This will be Mark I
Mark II will have the GPS element.

Thanks for the suggestions so far
Adam.

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Re: Scrolling LED matrix, Arduino and GPS...

Postby vimes79 » Sat Nov 10, 2012 4:39 pm

Just checked out the Flora's, pretty cool... Is there anything Adafruit DON'T make/sell??? They really do have the Arduino/Pi/Beagle and general electronics "add on" market well and truly covered! Between Adafruit, Dangerous Prototypes/Seeed and Sparkfun I reckon you could buy or build pretty much any Arduino (or similar) based project you could think up!
I do love Adafruit gear, cant beat it on quality! DP run a close 2nd.

I had thought about those LED Matrix backpacks too as I have a couple that I bought here a few months ago and then changed my design to use a LoL instead. The only downside I can see with those Adafruit back packs is it would be slightly more complicated to wire up your Led's since at least 2/3 of the charlieplexed connections when using the existing matrix block are made within the resin block for you already... You can still see the pattern in which they are wired through the clear resin on the back of them tho so you could copy that but I reckon it would be more work than using the LoL where all you have to do is add the trace leads from each Led solder point and then the Led's as the charlieplexing is all done on the board already.
The thing those backpacks would be useful for is Xmas tree Led lighting! I might get my 2 out and have a play in a bit and see what's what as I haven't used them at all yet.

Good luck with it, the LoL shield (although it takes a while to solder) is a great board/kit and done right your idea will look great when finished. Be sure to come back and post some pics and let us know how it went.
Supporter of Official Arduinos - BeagleBone - RasPi + EVE
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