Sunday, June 3, 2018

Major LED Cube update

When I created my 8x8x8 LED cube about 8 years ago, I programmed some fairly basic "patterns" into it. I'm only a novice programmer and I was happy with the result but I always imagined I would go back at some point and spend some more time programming some really great patterns.

Then I had some kids and they actually love the cube, and more and more I've been itching to get back and spruce it up with some fancy patterns.

Then around my birthday a couple of months ago I learned a new Raspberry Pi was released and it occurred to me that this would be an awesome platform for a "cube pattern generator" and so I started doing some research and hacking. I investigated replacing the PIC32 all together with an RPi and it's maybe possible but I decided that it was best to leave the PIC32 driving the TLC led drivers, even if the Rpi could do it "as good", there's no way it was going to do it "better". So the alternative is to leave the PIC32 as the drawing device and just feed the "patterns" to it from the RPi.

Before tackling the task of interfacing the two devices, which I knew wasn't going to be a picnic; I decided to test out some things and blow some rust off the old programming skills by building an LED Cube simulator. So I got a raspberry pi pattern generator talking to a LED cube simulator on my PC, to test out that everything worked how I expected, and I thought it would be cool to make one since I did just look for something open source first but couldn't find anything. Now anyone can use the LED cube simulator to make patterns or just "learn" without having to have built a LED cube first. I am hosting it and the pattern generator on github

Fast forward about 4 weeks and I now have the RPi feeding patterns to my actual LED cube and the led cube simulator at the same time! and it's awesome, to see the hardware and software, both of which I created, running in unison is quite cool.

So, I haven't actually got to the part where I create the cool patterns, that will be the next bit after I take a little bit of a break from staring at configuration registers and bit translations!

Here's some media. I will put up some posts detailing some of the technical aspects in the future.

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