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Thread: And before we did lasers...we did Light Boxes...

  1. #1
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    Default And before we did lasers...we did Light Boxes...

    Background:

    Back in '73 or so, I had a electrical engineer roommate that worked at TI. One evening he brought home what he described as the coolest thing he couldn't pass up from Neiman Marcus, a posh store in Dallas. He took it out of the bag and plugged it in. It was a white cube, about 10" on a side, solid on all 5 sides except the front, which had square cut-outs in three partitions, front to back. Each cut-out in the next partition toward the back got smaller. All cut-outs were centered on the center line of the box. It started flashing colors in each partition. And it looked very cool. I had to make one, but better. So I did, and this is what it looks like when you play music to it. The color changes are all random.

    As an aside: I saw in another thread where it was discussed on YouTube would take down a posted video if it used commercial music. I've never had YouTube do more than provide an initial warning followed by, "your okay". I do not monetize any of my YouTube posts and maybe that is a factor, nor do I have a lot of "views". So well see from this post what happens.

    Here it is, and I will post another of my laser YouTube vids in Laser Displays...shortly, that ties in with my thread "In the old days...this is what we did"

    So here is light box magic. Doing one with DMX controls would be very cool (and I started building one back in 2017...sigh).

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    That's pretty neat! Reminds me of the lighted dance floors that were so popular in bars and nightclubs in the 70's and 80's. (I even remember one being installed on the wall at the local roller skating rink back when I was in High School!)

    Do you have any pictures of the inside of the box? Trying to figure out how the lights are arranged.

    Thinking that you could re-create this today with some smart LED strip lights arranged in a circle around the inside edge of each "mask" layer. It would be easy to drive them with an Arduino to get a "color organ" effect that followed the music, but it should be just as simple to drive it via DMX. You'd want some sort of a diffuser on the lights of course. And maybe have a translucent plastic layer that extends inward from the mask edge to soften the colors even more? (That plastic would end up being the display surface for the colors seen from the front for each layer.)

    Hmmm. I just happened to purchase a pair of 6 meter smart LED strips last week so I could experiment with them. Should be more than enough! I think this would be a fun little project to try.

    Adam

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    Quote Originally Posted by buffo View Post
    That's pretty neat! Reminds me of the lighted dance floors that were so popular in bars and nightclubs in the 70's and 80's. (I even remember one being installed on the wall at the local roller skating rink back when I was in High School!)

    Do you have any pictures of the inside of the box? Trying to figure out how the lights are arranged.

    Thinking that you could re-create this today with some smart LED strip lights arranged in a circle around the inside edge of each "mask" layer. It would be easy to drive them with an Arduino to get a "color organ" effect that followed the music, but it should be just as simple to drive it via DMX. You'd want some sort of a diffuser on the lights of course. And maybe have a translucent plastic layer that extends inward from the mask edge to soften the colors even more? (That plastic would end up being the display surface for the colors seen from the front for each layer.)

    Hmmm. I just happened to purchase a pair of 6 meter smart LED strips last week so I could experiment with them. Should be more than enough! I think this would be a fun little project to try.

    Adam

    We think alike, Adam. I purchased various LED strips a few years ago and Arduino. Made some progress and then got other priorities to deal with. I'm not sure a diffuser would be required as that is the purpose of the flat-white partitions. The inside of the box is flat-white everywhere.

    In this version the lights are 110VAC RYGB flashing Christmas tree lights, the old style, with self-taping sockets on 110vac zip cord in a corner of each partition. The zip cord is one length, in a spiral-like fashion from the front of the 1st section to the last, finally exiting the box and terminated with a plug. No fuse. (Be careful). Simple, yet elegant.

    I have photos some where, still looking...found them Click image for larger version. 

Name:	LightBox-1.jpg 
Views:	4 
Size:	3.82 MB 
ID:	56690

    Let's colaborate...
    Last edited by lasermaster1977; 06-08-2020 at 06:12.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lasermaster1977 View Post
    We think alike, Adam. I purchased various LED strips a few years ago and Arduino. Made some progress and then got other priorities to deal with. I'm not sure a diffuser would be required as that is the purpose of the flat-white partitions. The inside of the box is flat-white everywhere.

    In this version the lights are 110VAC RYGB flashing Christmas tree lights, the old style, with self-taping sockets on 110vac zip cord in a corner of each partition. The zip cord is one length, in a spiral-like fashion from the front of the 1st section to the last, finally exiting the box and terminated with a plug. No fuse. (Be careful). Simple, yet elegant.

    I have photos some where, still looking...found them Click image for larger version. 

Name:	LightBox-1.jpg 
Views:	4 
Size:	3.82 MB 
ID:	56690

    Let's colaborate...

    I remember building a circuit with filters that I'd plug my stereo speaker wire into and it would flash 3 different colors based on the music. It seems really cool but a little impractical to leave sitting in my room. Jump to now where I don't have things that are a little impractical, I have a things that are a LOT impractical. Once a nerd, always a nerd.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnYayas View Post
    I remember building a circuit with filters that I'd plug my stereo speaker wire into and it would flash 3 different colors based on the music. It seems really cool but a little impractical to leave sitting in my room. Jump to now where I don't have things that are a little impractical, I have a things that are a LOT impractical. Once a nerd, always a nerd.


    What's the saying? "He with the most toys when he dies, wins." I just want to be a contender.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by lasermaster1977 View Post
    We think alike, Adam. I purchased various LED strips a few years ago and Arduino. Made some progress and then got other priorities to deal with. I'm not sure a diffuser would be required as that is the purpose of the flat-white partitions. The inside of the box is flat-white everywhere.

    In this version the lights are 110VAC RYGB flashing Christmas tree lights, the old style, with self-taping sockets on 110vac zip cord in a corner of each partition. The zip cord is one length, in a spiral-like fashion from the front of the 1st section to the last, finally exiting the box and terminated with a plug. No fuse. (Be careful). Simple, yet elegant.

    I have photos some where, still looking...found them Click image for larger version. 

Name:	LightBox-1.jpg 
Views:	4 
Size:	3.82 MB 
ID:	56690

    Let's colaborate...
    Looking back over my notes on a DMX equivalent solution, I concluded that the number of DMX channels required to have the same level of 'programmable' variability as the existing C-7 bulb configuration would be 1 channel of RGB LED's for each existing C-7 bulb, or 4 DMX channels times the number of box baffles. In the case of 5 baffles that translates to 20 DMX channels.
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    If you have any questions about how to wire, control or set up your LED's, I am more than happy to help.

    It is kinda my thing. I work as a Disney contractor for Kiteman Productions. Although with Covid-19 probably not for much longer since the show is not running and has no resume date.

    Jump to 4:00 and then to 7:48 to see my LED's used in the EPCOT Forever night time show on kites.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhRqJCkYQ-U

    Chris

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lazerjock View Post
    If you have any questions about how to wire, control or set up your LED's, I am more than happy to help.

    It is kinda my thing. I work as a Disney contractor for Kiteman Productions. Although with Covid-19 probably not for much longer since the show is not running and has no resume date.

    Jump to 4:00 and then to 7:48 to see my LED's used in the EPCOT Forever night time show on kites.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhRqJCkYQ-U

    Chris
    Very cool kite effect Chris! Thanks for sharing the video and the offer for help. It took me a while to see how the kites were being flown. Great effect!

    I've been reviewing the many, many channel controllers...and there are a ton of them out their. Any recommendations? At a minimum a 5 channel controller could be used, but I see using shorter LED ribbons, 4 per section x 5 sections, or 20 channels max.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lasermaster1977 View Post
    Very cool kite effect Chris! Thanks for sharing the video and the offer for help. It took me a while to see how the kites were being flown. Great effect!



    Thank you for the compliments. The kites are being pulled by wave runners. This gives us the ability to fly in any direction regardless of wind speed or direction.


    I've been reviewing the many, many channel controllers...and there are a ton of them out their. Any recommendations? At a minimum a 5 channel controller could be used, but I see using shorter LED ribbons, 4 per section x 5 sections, or 20 channels max.
    I need to know more about what you are trying to accomplish. I've read all of the posts in this thread and watched the video.
    If you are not committed to DMX control there are a couple other method that are much easier and I believe more versitile.

    1. A simple audio controller for WS28xx LED's. Its called the SP106E. I have one and it works like a next generation color organ. Cheap too.
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/SP106E-Musi...kAAOSw4ChdeNbO

    2. Arduino controller driving the same LED's (WS28xx). It would be based on the Arduino Nano or equivalent. They are only a few dollars. The trick is you will need to do the programming to accomplish what you want, but the sky is the limit.

    If you are not familiar with the WS28xx series of LED's, they are addressable LED's. Some refer to them as smart LED's. With the proper controller the LED's can each be controlled in intensity and color. Typically up to 2048 LED's in a single string. Depending on the length, the strings can be wired in parallel and split multiple times without a data booster.

    I don't want to hi-jack your thread. PM me if you need more info.

    Chris

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lazerjock View Post
    I need to know more about what you are trying to accomplish. I've read all of the posts in this thread and watched the video.
    If you are not committed to DMX control there are a couple other method that are much easier and I believe more versitile.

    1. A simple audio controller for WS28xx LED's. Its called the SP106E. I have one and it works like a next generation color organ. Cheap too.
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/SP106E-Musi...kAAOSw4ChdeNbO

    2. Arduino controller driving the same LED's (WS28xx). It would be based on the Arduino Nano or equivalent. They are only a few dollars. The trick is you will need to do the programming to accomplish what you want, but the sky is the limit.

    If you are not familiar with the WS28xx series of LED's, they are addressable LED's. Some refer to them as smart LED's. With the proper controller the LED's can each be controlled in intensity and color. Typically up to 2048 LED's in a single string. Depending on the length, the strings can be wired in parallel and split multiple times without a data booster.

    I don't want to hi-jack your thread. PM me if you need more info.

    Chris
    I haven't decided what I want to achieve other than programmable lights. SP106E looks like something that would be fun to play with (and I'll probably buy one just to have) but I'm tending toward individual or individual groups within the string of LEDs to be independently programmable. Like I said earlier, I started investigating various ways to upgrade this old light box, time passes, memory fades, so I'm re-visiting this. I've download the WS28xx datasheet, now this is exactly the kind of thing what I want as a light source.

    I have an Arduino Nano that I will need to re-familiarize myself with. My inclination is toward being able to program light sequences to specific pieces of music and easily upload different routines.

    Just watched this YT tutorial on LED strip comparisons and found it terrifically enlightening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnvircC22hU

    Thanks again for the suggestions and insights...feel free to hijack this thread as much as you want, too.
    Last edited by lasermaster1977; 06-10-2020 at 11:38.
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