Category Archives: apa102

Wow Suit V3 – Production Update

Still no word form White Night Melbourne about funding. It would be great to know if they accepted/rejected my idea. I’m leaning to rejected and proceeding none the less.


Above are all the LED panels. You can see the upper right led panel completed with 255 APA102 LEDs. The other panels are currently empty until all the LEDs arrive.


Each panel is composed of a soft felt sheet attached to a firm clear plastic sheet. The LEDs are attached to the plastic side, connected, tested and then all the wires are sealed with felt for cosmetic appeal. I plan on using large velcro pads to attach each panel to the fabric suit.

New Panel Layout for the V3 Wow Suit

Here are 2 video demo of the new panel layout:

This one runs a simple pixel pusher to test each pixels colour and location:

This one runs part of the Wow Suits full software rendering suite:

Each panel consists of 255 APA102 LED Pixels. There will be a total of 12 of these panels, however the panels on the arms and body may be smaller.

Wow Suit V 3 – Production Update

I have used up the last of my APA102 strips from my previous order to make the 1st prototype panel for the 3rd Iteration of the Wow Suit.


This is the panel for the bottom right leg. With this prototype i have 17 strips x 15 Pixels Per Strip totaling at 255 LEDs for one panel. The previous iteration of the Wow Suit had 10 x 16 pixel strips, which were 160 Pixels per block).


I’m trying to get them as tightly packed as possible. The base block is a piece of felt secured to a thin piece of plastic sheet. Its both rigid and flexible enough to adhere to the cat suit Ill be putting this on to.


I have also added a pixel inside the RPI casing as the driver Pixel. This pixel is directly connected to the SPI bus on the RPI and is driven by the RPI’s 3.3v Power Supply. Its the best way to get a reliable signal at very high SPI speeds. I’m essentially using the pixel as a voltage level converter. When driving LEDs, the software ignores pixel 0 and sends a blank pixel to it each render.

The Wow Suit V3 – Building has begun


Above is the brains of the Wow Suit. The Raspberry Pi A+. I have 2, one is a backup in case I step on the 1st :)  For $50 you cant really pass up on this power house. The RPI runs the following stack of software:

I have also placed an order for a body suit, and will be building the 1st panel in the coming days to test out a new layout . Also in the pipeline is 20 Meters of APA102 144ppm LED Strips.

Structured interactivity

I have had long thought sessions about how to make my LED creations interactive. Toying with sensors, buttons, sliders etc… has often wielded “meh” results. In the end, a web/app based approach will probably be best. But how do i make it un-boring? The idea of the Idle render, what is rendered when no interactivity is around, is very important. I had an idea last night about a structured render algorithm that could be made to create really interesting patterns and be structurally interactive.

Most of my render algorithms are very similar, varying slightly in certain ways:

  • Create a color object using an index value starting at 0 ending at “6 x Maximum value of Each LED”
  • Create an X and Y coordinate using either a random number bound to the LED map, or a certain pattern
  • Apply color to a pixel, line, box or circle at X Y co-ordinates
  • render
  • add a delay of d milliseconds
  • apply a canvas shift function of some sort
  • apply a canvas fade function with a fade value f
  • repeat

The above creates some amazingly diverse animations. I plan to write up a simple web interface that allows you to control each step and then send the updates to the MU via wifi.

Here is a rough draft of a web app:


This sends a POST data packet at each change in the interface that looks like this:


Burning Seed 2015

I didn’t think this through

I learnt some very insightful things last weekend, whilst attending Burning Seed 2015. This was my very 1st “burn” ever!

Above is an awesome still shot of me wearing the Wow Suit and the V4 LED Mask Hot glue is not the best thing to use when making complicated electronics used in the Australian outback! Who would have thought ? Whilst none of my creations suffered at all, it was the very 1st thought that ran through my head as i opened my car at 5pm after a 30 sunny day. I met some very interesting people, one awesome gent told me about E6000 which is a solvent glue that solidifies hard permanently. I will be trilling this for my future wearable projects

The best way to test your power usage is to run it in a real world scenario. The wow suit lasts for exactly 6 hours on 4 x 10ah packs. The 5th power pack, which i use to power the RPiA+, was 70% full after the 2nd night of use. I managed to to swap over the 4 LED power packs at about midnight with the help of my bestest friends.

People LOVE to hug at festivals. Why didn’t i think about this one? about every 3rd person who came up to to check out the suit wanted to hug me. “I want a light hug” …. “bright hug me”….”oh my god woooow…can I please hug you”. This is totally awesome, and an absolutely acceptable way to go WOW in my books! No one was denied a hug…well almost no one, there was that one really smelly naked hippy! The suit stood up to the challenge and didn’t break.

Dancing with Jord in the #wowsuit at #burningseed #burningmanaustralia #burningseed2015 #apa102 #raspberrypi A video posted by Elec Dash Tron Dot Org (@wow_elec_tron) on

Test your code over and over! Whilst standing in front of a small crowd of people, suddenly my whole right side went dark….i immediately freaked out…and then 5 seconds later immediately got a wave of relief when I realised I coded the frame to buffer incorrectly whilst shifting pixels! I then stopped looking down at myself in fear of seeing this dreaded bug every 10 minutes.

If you plan to wear almost 2000 very bright animated LEDs on your body, PLAN your evening accordingly. I found myself unable to enter any small covered areas in fear of freaking out the crowd around me. I also stood helpless as hundreds of very munted people drooled over the animations! This i didn’t mind so much, i just wasn’t prepared for it.

LED Mask – V4

I started work on a new version of the LED mask. I recently found a less creepy plastic face mask, and decided to work my magic on it:

First thing to do is to map out the LED arrangements. This is key to how each strip is connected and how the software drives the LEDs. You can see the strip placement markers and the direction of data below.

 wpid-20150919_142458-1.jpg  This is the new mask I found.

It has a kinder, more neutral appearance…

Next I cut up the LED strips and prep them each for placement on the mask. I usually mark out the required length of connector wires on the mask and cut them up, prep them with solder and markers

 wpid-20150919_144719-1.jpg  This is general layout of the mask in 2 dimensions

Finally I connect each strip together in the order assigned in step 1, and the stick the strips to the mask:

wpid-20150920_170734-1.jpg Tada!

And here is a test animation of the new mask in action:

This version uses the NodeMCU V1 module. Great little piece of hardware!

A couple of new pieces

First off we have the lovely pink lady from many a Coco Poco Loco party:

wpid-20150915_114513.jpg This is in fact a very silly looking fiber glass model of a naked lady. It has a base with a normal bulb inside.

The outside is covered in small glass pieces and the inside is covered in jagged fiber glass that cut my arm up pretty badly

I was asked to work my magic and here it is:

I put a strip in the head, onto the bust, all the way up the spine and along the lower parts of the front facing legs. The whole thing uses about 68 LEDs from a WS2812b strip. I used a NodeMCU for this, just for shits and giggles and to see if i could get it to drive WS2812B strips. I used THIS modified NeoPixel driver with the NodeMCU module running at 160Mhz. Note you must use the UART driven library on Pin 4. Here is another example:

Next up is Jords Disco Shoulder Pads

wpid-20150917_230735-1.jpg Disco Pads?

I used a Arduino Nano for this along side a WS2812B LED Strip. The results is hillarious:

My best piece to date in my opinion:

Here are some #discopads please enjoy them #burningmanaustralia #burningseed #ledwearables #arduino #apa102 #ledstrip A video posted by Elec Dash Tron Dot Org (@wow_elec_tron) on

The LED Sphere

I have had this idea in my head ever since i saw these cheap lighting fixtures at Ikea:

These comprise of 2 outdoor lights. the bottoms are hollowed out and fixed together using some screws.

Each half has 182 LEDs arranged in 13 x 14pixel strips.  You end up with a 28 x 13 pixel grid to work with, and for magic to begin.

The sphere is controlled using a NodeMcu clone that runs an ESP8266 core. It easily accepts Arduino code via the latest Arduino IDE so porting my code was relatively simple. The only change required was the FastLED library which isn’t yet supported on the ESP8266 core. The APA102 LED strips can be driven using standard SPI so rewriting the driver was pretty easy. The SPI library for the NodeMcu is even better than the arduino as it has frame based transmition where you can just shoot out a huge buffer of bytes at one go, instead of byte by byte. The performance increase is massive.