The new DotStar LEDs from Adafruit.com just arrived a couple weeks ago and I am the lucky lucky duck who got to play with them.
The cool thing about DotStars as opposed to NeoPixels (Adafruit’s older LED type, and what I used for Glimmer the LED Mermaid and my Isis Wings) is that they are faster.
What does it mean for an LED to be fast? Aren’t they all just light speed?
Well, I’m not really sure. But I think how it works is this: LEDs aren’t just solidly “on”. RGB LEDs like NeoPixels and DotStars have 3 teensy little lights inside, a red, green, and blue. They blink super fast and are able to create loads of different colors.. but even though they look solid to your eyeball, they are blinking slowly enough that when the LED moves quickly through space, you see it as a series of blips rather than a solid line of light.
DotStars fix this. You see a solid line of light. To wit:
So anyway. Me being a light-spinner-type I had to create some LED fans. LED fans are rather hard to come by in the high-end toy world. Everyone is making hula hoops, poi, and staff toys but I’ve only seen one type of LED fan for sale (and I wasn’t that nuts about it).
These, however, I am nuts about.
I’ve written a tutorial and posted it over at Adafruit.com so all you crafty types can make your own LED fans too. It’s got instructions and links and code and stuff.
These fans have 3 modes with the code I uploaded to Adafruit. My personal fans, of course, have far more modes than that.. there is loads of space on the arduino chip for adding more, adding choreo modes where the modes change automatically or at a certain time point, or just picking different colors. The DotStar pixels are so fast that you get a persistence-of-vision effect when you swing the fans fast, with some modes.. I’m currently exploring some of the different stuff they’ll do.
If people want, I may post more elaborate code with more modes etc here at some point. 🙂
Here’s a video and a slideshow. Yay LED Fans!