Building a Shpongletron 3.0 / by Daniel Buckley

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Pixel Pusher by Heroic Robotics (http://www.heroicrobotics.com/)

Pixel Pusher by Heroic Robotics (http://www.heroicrobotics.com/)

Recently I've been spending some time over at Zebbler Studios, helping them pull together their stage design for the Shpongle national music tour starting at Boston's House of Blues Wednesday, Feb 12. The design features custom-built structural surfaces for projection mapping and LED-driven infinite mirrors that serve as a podium and backdrop for the performer. As usual, Zebbler Studios is pushing the limits of what is possible, introducing a relatively new product, the Pixel Pusher by Heroic Robots, into the infrastructure of their stage design. The Pixel Pusher, allows its user to send video data over a 10/100 Mbit ethernet network in order to translate that information into RGB values on up to 8 strips of 240 LEDs per board — although I will say that if you are going to send data to a strip over 120 pixels or so long, you should definitely consider powering it from both ends. You can check out the Pixel Pusher startup guide here (https://sites.google.com/a/heroicrobot.com/pixelpusher/home/getting-started/hr-strip-quick-start-guide)

Individually-addressable RGB LED strip.

Individually-addressable RGB LED strip.

Using the Pixel Pusher library for Processing and the Syphon framework for Mac, we were able to send video straight from Resolume Avenue into the LED strip. 

In terms of fabrication, Zebbler introduced me to a bunch of new techniques that I am hoping to test out on my own including working with one-way and two-way mirrored plexi. They used them on the Shpongletron to create the inifinite mirror effect. Another technique that I observed was to use sand down the surface of the white plexi in order to create a cleaner, less-reflective projection surface. When it came to wiring this whole structure we ran into lots of logistical challenges, but with ingenuity and lots of soldering we were able to come up with some interesting solutions. 

Overall, this project really got me excited to work on some new LED-based projects, especially with the ability to run video directly into the LED's through the Pixel Pusher. Be sure to check out the video below for a preview of Shpongletron 3.0, and if you are in town on Wednesday, definitely check out the show.