Author Topic: The Great 2019 Christmas Lightshow Sweater Project  (Read 244 times)

Offline Sweaterguy

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The Great 2019 Christmas Lightshow Sweater Project
« on: January 13, 2019, 02:24:07 PM »
New to this board and the world of Christmas light shows.  Seems like you are a good group and maybe a few of you could help me steer clear of pitfalls and mistakes on a little project I am considering…

Alright, I'm done with it.  I'm tired of losing the yearly “Ugly Christmas Sweater” contest at the office to the “Jesus in a Baby Biorn sweater”, the “light up Olaf snowman sweater”, or the “homemade Christmas hearth sweater”.  This year I'm going all out.  I'm going to win this thing, and I'm going to blow away the competition to the point where all future Ugly Sweater Contests seem futile.  (and of course I just find pixels interesting and want to play with them too…)

Christmas Lightshow sweater with speakers and sound.  LED Pixel based Christmas sweater with a led pixel grid matrix across the chest, spiral led pixel strip around arms and led pixel strip around neck, and small speaker.  Budget around $100 plus cost of sweater.

There is an example on Adafruit of a sweater with a light up snowflake here: .  Think this, on steroids…with sound.

I consider myself a pretty handy guy.  If there are tutorials online, I can usually figure it out. I've been reading a lot about LED pixels lately.  I used my Raspberry with a small TV to create a freestanding video slideshow for a party once.  I don’t have any experience with LED pixels, moderate experience with sweaters.

•   Raspberry Pi 3 Model B (already own)
•   Falcon PiCap $35
•   8x32 LED Pixel Flexible Panel – 256 pixels $35.88
•   5m of LED Pixel Strip 30LEDs/m – 150 pixels $18.00 + $13.23 shipping
•   USB Soundcard $9.59
•   Micro Speaker $14.99
•   Power supply 5V 15A $25.99
•   Various wires and connectors
•   Velcro for attaching panel to sweater, thread for attaching strips to sweater
•   Sweater, thick enough to hide some wiring and hardware but thin and porous enough to let light from the LEDs through

Raspberry Pi, PiCap, USB soundboard, and speaker will be attached at belt.  5v Led panel will be attached to chest of sweater with lead going to output 1 of PiCap.  5v Strip will be cut into 3 pieces with two 2m arm sections and one 1m neck section; they will be attached in a string with lead going to output 2 of PiCap.  All hardware will be powered by the 5v 15a power supply connected to the PiCap.  Using 5v so I (hopefully) reduce the chance of electrocuting myself with a bunch of LEDs strapped to my body.  The USB soundcard will be connected to the USB port of the Pi and the speaker will be connected to the soundcard and attached at the belt.

Sequencing will be done with Vixen 3.5 based on the 2015 Johnson Family Christmas Show, I like the slow start followed by high energy of this show and want to burn my coworkers retinas away.  Will edit the audio down to less than 4 min with Audacity.  Plan on using the panel for small individually sequenced snowflakes (like the start of the show), scrolling text, countdowns, fireworks, LipSync, and general crazy light-up thingys.  Arm and neck strings will be used much like arches with lots of chase action and flashes.

1.   Any way to cut costs out of the project?  I’m already over 50% over budget and I haven’t started yet.  Most of the reason I didn’t choose wearable pixels and a true wearable solution was because they are so dang expensive (and I want a bigger show than what that would allow).
2.   I’d really like to have a 32x64 pixel panel that was the same size for my chest.  But at that pitch, it looks like they have to be the Hub-75 type with a 16pin connector.  I don’t think the PiCap would support that where I could run that and a string of LEDs off the same board, and I don’t want to get bigger and strap more onto myself.  Any other solution?  Is the 8x32 panel I have good enough for basic shapes and text scrolling at close range?
3.   Will the panel be light enough to be supported by the sweater, or will I have to strap the panel on my body and put the sweater over it?
4.   The panel is 3mm wide.  Am I going to need to inset it in a fake pec muscle piece to make it not stick out too much?  Would that solve my problem on how to attach it to the sweater?
5.   I think I’m right that I need a USB soundcard to play sound since the PiCap uses the 3.5mm audio ports spot.  Can I play the music synced to the lights with this setup.  Any better/cheaper solutions that would give me a speaker of a quality to play music and fit inside a sweater?
6.   I don’t think I will have any problem with fadeout with the panel designed with one power out and a string of 150 pixels placed (relatively) close together.  Am I going to have to mess with power injection backfeeding the string?
7.   Speaking of power, I am OK using a plug power supply as I don’t plan on roaming the office with the lightshow going, also don’t think I can get the wattage I need even from the largest Lipoly battery they make. Is my power supply big enough?  Adding up the wattage of the LEDs and speaker I’m at 116.8w which at 5v equates to 23.3a (before any leakage), but I’m not expecting all of the LEDs will be on at once.  Also thinking I'm going to have to power down the LEDs in Vixen as 100% white indoors at close range will probably burn some retinas.  Hoping I can get by with 15a supply (15ax5v=75w), as I haven't found anything bigger without going to the bigger computer style power supply and I would like to avoid that.
8.   What am I missing or not thinking of? Anything you would change to be cheaper, cooler, or easier?

Thanks in advance for any help!


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