New here, and a couple questions
Hey everyone, thought I'd join the discussion.
With the COVID-19 outbreak, I have some time off of work, and thought it would be fun to put together some sets that have been sitting in boxes for a while. I developed embedded firmware for my first 6 years out of college and I'm excited to get back to doing some prototyping. I used Lightmybricks prior to finding Brickstuff, which I feel offers a far superior set of tools in terms of plug and play components to build great scenes.
So, currently, I have 2 projects in the pipe-line.
1) My wife and I built the Ewok Village, and I lit it using the Lightmybricks set kit, but will be adding some more to it. I have the set displayed with the Rogue-1 AT-ST, and will be adding some LEDs to the cannons using the LEC for the main blasters, and also adding a spot-light to it's right arm. I'm also interested in experimenting with light effects for Luke's light sabre. Parts are on the way right now. I would eventually like to add a speaker and infrared or radio controller to provide some interactivity with the scene. I have some Ewok chanting .mp3s, as well as the AT-ST blaster sound effects. Here is what I have so far.
2) My next project will be the UCS Slave 1. I'm really excited about this one. The interior can hold a whole lot of controllers. I'm planning on lighting up the engines, and some cockpit lighting, but the weapons on this set are where I think there will be some really neat effects. I have the Machine Gun light effect board on the way and will use that for the quad blasters. The film seems to show these having a very high rate of fire, so I thought this would work well. The concealed weaponry leaves a lot of opportunities - based on scene in episode II where Jango is chasing down Obi-Wan, it looks like there may be additional lasers in the hidden compartment. I haven't decided what color to light the ion cannon (films seem to indicate the discharge is either pink or blue) and not sure what effect I will use for the concussion missiles. If there is space in the cockpit, I would love to add the 0.96' brick screen. Also, I am hopping to add sound, and interactivity through a radio/IR controler. Some magnetic switches on the weapon compartments would also be a cool addition.
I'm also looking forward to applying a brick screen to the Hoth Medical chamber, and I just pre-ordered the Ultimate Falcon lighting kit.
My question is regarding stock issues. I noticed the IR control modules are all out of stock. Any chance that remote control modules, either IR or radio, will be back in stock at some point? Perhaps in May after all the pre-assembeled kits go out? I may end up developing something on my own using an Arduino nano, which should be able to fit inside the Slave 1, but I really like the idea of using some of brick-stuffs plug and play parts for proto-typing.
Hi, thanks very much for your post and for sharing your project ideas. Sounds like you are especially well-qualified to take the lights and sounds to the next level, based on your training in embedded systems!
Here's something to get you thinking: in our newer kits like Hogwarts and the revised kits for Disney and the Falcon (post-November 2019), we have moved to a new modular control system where multiple lights can be controlled by one controller. Basically the idea is to replace the "dumb" adapter boards with "smart" adapters that can take orders from a single central controller. Here's what one of the controllers from the new kits looks like:
As you can see, each board has 9 Pico LED connectors. plus one input and one output plug. As you can see from the black chips on the board, these lights are controlled using the NeoPixel protocol, so if you are fluent in Arduino, the potential is there to take these boards and our connecting cables to daisy-chain your own lighting setup using off-the-shelf Pico LEDs (and your existing lightmybricks LEDs by the way) and control them using Adafruit's standard NeoPixel library. It's really that simple-- connect any Arduino baord to the INPUT plug, connect your LEDs, connect boards together, and address each LED in sequence (1,2,3,4,5...n). Using the NeoPixel library you can control brightness of any LED in the chain.
This approach is heavy on the DIY aspect, which is why we haven't shared it much publicly yet. The adapters and cables aren't available standalone yet, but they will be soon as we roll out the new RF remote control system (to replace the IR remotes).
We've had some delays getting bare boards and components from Asia to get this new system up and running, but once parts arrive (hopefully by the end of this month) we will make the controllers here in the USA and get everything up for sale.
If you're up for tackling the NeoPixel coding yourself and want to experiment, please send us an e-mail (support<at>brickstuff.com) and let us know how many adapters you'd need and also how many connecting cables. I can reply with the details, code snippets needed to make it work, etc. I could sell you the boards and cables now if you'd like.
Once we launch this product line officially, we'll be looking for customers to share their projects and custom code samples, so again if you're up for rolling up your sleeves, you could make some really cool stuff for your setup.
Let me know what you think of this idea-- hopefully it gets your creative coding juices flowing!
Thanks again for sharing with us!
Jeremiah Shue For light strips, unfortunately no. The reason is a bit technical, but the driver chips provide enough current/power for only one LED per output. So if you connect more than one LED to the output, each LED will receive 50% of the normal power. The chip will never give more power than for one LED on each output. So if you connect 10 LEDs, they will still work, but each LED will only receive 10% of the normal power.
The alternative would be to use Pico LEDs where you would have used light strips. Put 2 Pico LEDs in place of one light strip, then connect both Pico LEDs individually to the driver board. That way, each LED gets 100% of its power.
I hope this makes sense.