Introducing…. The AstroPixels

After the success of producing the NeoPixel PSI boards, I wanted to do more. I wanted to do a simple, unified set of dome lights for a typical R2. And I wanted to do it as cheaply as possible.

History

For a long time, the de facto standard for logic displays has been the Teecees lighting system. These are built with single colour LEDs and some multiplexing chips to control them all. The drawback to these is that you have to put the correct colour LEDs in the correct place, and it isn’t easy to change it later. The lights are also either on or off, no fading or anything fancy like that.

Rseries at the top, Teecees in the middle, AstroPixels on the bottom.

This was fine, and at the time fairly cutting edge. However a number of years ago along came the rseries lights. These were using the (at the time) newish RGB addressable LEDs, commonly known as Neopixels. These had the benefit of being able to not only change the colours on the fly, but also fade in and out. However, due to the size of the Neopixels, the LED array was a lot bigger than the logic displays, so to get a decently dense layout, a system of holders and fibre optic cables was used. Of course, this gave a look very similar to the original ANH colour wheel system which was very nice!

Along with these there are also many different systems for running the HPs and PSIs. Some which worked in conjunction with the logics, some which were standalone.

Goal

With all the various lighting systems in the dome, you could easily end up with half a dozen different arduinos, with all the associated power requirements, etc. Not only that, if they could accept commands from a central control system then you needed all the communications wiring too.

There was also a need (IMHO) for an intermediate lighting system. Something more up to date than the old, but thoroughly tested, teecees, but not as fancy as the fibre optic effects of the rseries.

So my goal is to make a unified and cheap dome lighting system using full RGB LEDs, manufactured for me so there was no intricate surface mount soldering for me to do. I want to use either an arduino mega or an ESP32 as the central control processor and have it all running with the ReelTwo library.

The system will include the Front and Rear Logic displays, Front and Rear PSIs, and 3 HPs. All for hopefully under £100.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Matt Dunstan

    Hello Darren I live in Australia adelaide.
    Post code 5000 I’m interested in your light kit for r2 ..what’s the cost of your r2 dome light kit ….thank u Matt

      1. Matt Dunstan

        OK thank u Darren for the reply I appreciate all the hard work u do on the lights

  2. Joe

    Hi Darren, will this set merge into my shadow-MD control setup. Many of the Teeces light configurations are triggered by MD. Will Astropixels work similarly.

    1. dpoulson

      Hey,

      A few people have integrated them with marcduinos. There is a firmware with more functionality available that someone has done called astropixels plus too. I’ve not personally tried either option tho.

      It all uses the reeltwo library that allows for serial of i2c commands to be sent to trigger effects.

  3. Joe

    OK Thank you Darren, placed my order today. Appreciate the work you do! Looking forward to getting these setup! I’ll start researching the code. All the best! Joe

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