New Kickstarter encourages you to sculpt with RGB LEDs and a Raspberry Pi, Arduino, DigiSpark and Wemos

Alex Eames (from RasPi.TV and has run several Kickstarters and his new one looks to be his best yet.

His new campaign is called RasPiO Inspiring. It is a new system for ‘sculpting with RGB LEDs’ and is made up out of several different geometric shapes with a standard 10cm side length, covered in ultra-bright APA102 RGB LEDs and housing a standard solderable connector. This makes it easy to combine them into other 2-dimensional or even 3-dimensional shapes. To start with, Alex is offering a ‘straight-8’ (stick), a triangle and a circle, together with the Raspberry Pi driver board, along with some bundles. If the campaign does well, he plans to expand the range with a semi-circle and a square. Who knows where else he could take it? Letters? More shapes?

The really interesting part for me, apart from the new shapes (I really like the triangle), is that the Inspiring family can be driven from a Raspberry Pi (via a driver pHAT), an Arduino, an ESP8266 (for example, the Wemos) or a DigiSpark. This means that you can drive your shapes and sculptures from something very small (like the Digispark) to something larger (like a Pi 3). With the launch of the Raspberry Pi Zero W (which is compatible with Inspiring, as are all 40-pin Pis), the idea of an Internet of Things blinky riot of colour becomes possible. He’s even written a Python library for the Raspberry Pi to make it easy to get started and there’s an existing library called FastLED for the other platforms.

There are lots of other uses for bright LEDs, of course, and he identifies some of them on the Kickstarter campaign page.

  • Light Pyramid
  • Mood light
  • Internet Clock (NTP)
  • TV simulator security device
  • Persistance of vision project
  • Natural light alarm clock
  • Controllable light source for macro photography/videography
  • Christmas or other holiday decorative lighting
  • Eye-catching wearable

Obviously, though, being a Kickstarter he needs your support to make it happen. Alex is currently offering the following pledges:

  • Earlybird Pyramid (three triangles, driver pHAT, jumpers and headers) – £40 (rising to £50 in a couple of days)
  • Earlybird Bundle (four straights, 2 triangles, 2 circles, driver pHAT, jumpers, headers and a Raspberry Pi Zero W) – £75 (rising to £76 in a couple of days, without the Zero W)
  • Straight 8 (stick, driver pHAT, jumpers, headers) – £10
  • Triangle (triangle, driver pHAT, jumpers, headers) – £20
  • Circle (circle, driver pHAT, jumpers, headers) – £20
  • NTP (Internet-connected) Clock with Pi Zero W (as per the Circle, but adding in a Pi Zero W) – £30

The kits do need some soldering, however this is expected to be well in the range of most abilities. There’s never been a better time to start learning if you don’t already – those Zero W headers won’t solder themselves!

I’ve already pledged for a Pyramid and am really looking forward to getting it. Alex has a proven track record on Kickstarter, and I have no doubt that he’ll manage this one well and deliver on time.

So, head over to Kickstarter and take a further look and, if you like the look of it, make a pledge! The campaign video is below:


6 comments for “New Kickstarter encourages you to sculpt with RGB LEDs and a Raspberry Pi, Arduino, DigiSpark and Wemos

  1. I don’t like this project personally. Why?
    1. RPi is not a googd controller for chained LEDs – it is quite good explained on AdaFruit website. RPi (and another not real time systems) require a separate uC to supply the correctly timed signals. I personally use STM Cortex uC for my RPi led controllers.
    2. Delivery in September – for such a simple PCB with some LEDs and capacitors. Another people deliver quicker complex designs like drones. Why does Alex need 6 months for it.

    • Hi Piotr. Let me address some of your concerns as I’ve spoken to Alex on this subject.
      1. I believe that on the Adafruit site, they are talking about their Neopixels. These use _slightly_ different technology to do the timing and you’re correct, the timing is tricky with these. However, the APA102, which Alex is using, is a lot less ‘fussy’ about the timing and can be driven using the Pi’s SPI bus which gives enough of an accurate signal to work. As you can see from the campaign video, the three-sided pyramid (which is being driven by the under-powered Zero) is having no trouble. To be honest, Alex wouldn’t use the Pi to do it if the Pi wasn’t up to it – he’s got more pride in his products. The product also works with non-Raspberry Pi boards, so if you’re not sure that the Pi can handle it, you are at liberty to use Arduino, ESP8266 or DigiSpark. It’s also worth pointing out that the technology for doing this is being used on a few Pimoroni Pi products, such as the Blinkt, with no problems.
      2. From what Alex has told me, this is to allow a) time for Kickstarter to clear the funds. b) time for him to be out of the country during August. c) time to spare for any problems with bulk manufacture. d) a bit more leeway should the product take off and leave him with a huge fulfilment burden. In the past, he’s tended to deliver early, too, so it’s entirely possible that the items will be available earlier. It should also be pointed out that, although some products do deliver quicker, most Kickstarter campaigns deliver _late_ and annoy the backers by being so.

    • Piotr, are you the person for the following Kickstarter?

      I have backed the adc-dac Kickstarter above and also this new Kickstarter from Alex.
      I have also previously backed a number of Alex’s Kickstarters and appreciate that he is realistic on his delivery as well as provides updates during time between pledging and delivery.
      In the video as part of the campaign Alex shows these LEDs working with the Raspberry Pi and the other boards he has committed to support.

      Also, as Michael Horne has said look up the APA102. They’re not timing based so work great with the Raspberry Pi using SPI control. Adafruit call them DotStar

  2. Hi. I am Piotr from hugeone, but the above post is not mine, but I’ve found in my inbox two followup messages. Strange.

    I am the creator of the universal zero board indeed.


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