Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Glimmer the LED Mermaid 2.0

Glimmer 2.0 all golden and gleaming
This year has been all about mermaids.

I'm going on Bob and Malena's Mermaid Portfolio Workshop to Centoes in Mexico in just a couple weeks, and I'm working day and night to be sure my LED tail is finished and robust enough to handle international travel and a week of ocean swimming.

Glimmer's new detailing
Glimmer 1.0 was gorgeous.  She was also incredibly heavy, and incredibly delicate and sensitive.  I spent months on development and fabrication and probably even more time on repairs -- it seemed like every time I'd take her off the rack, another light strand would break, which meant another hour of frustration, soldering, gluing, and cursing.   She survived through just two public appearances and about 3 photo shoots before I was ready to chuck the whole tail in the bin.

But cooler heads prevailed, as they will, and I've spent the last month or so cutting her down and rethinking my light strategies and design ideas.  Glimmer 2.0 is lighter, sleeker, and much more robust.  There are fewer lights, but I think the new placement has a lot of impact, and I'm super happy with the finishing details.  She's got jewels and lace just everywhere, and many more sparkles.  What's not to love?

((Warning: geeky bit ahead))

The LEDs are laid out in a matrix pattern (basically a grid) instead of lots of parallel lines.  This basically means the code I was running on Glimmer 1.0 is more or less useless.  Code that looks good on a bunch of parallel strips just doesn't work when it's snaking down one long serpentine pattern, so I had to start pretty much from scratch for the animations.  In doing this, I realize that I have completely leveled UP when it comes to programming in Arduino.

For Glimmer 2.0, I knew what I wanted and was able to figure out how to make it happen.  I am so proud of me, and so grateful to the Fast LED community for  being so helpful and supportive, and for writing such great Arduino libraries.  (srsly, I just discovered a function called "add_glitter()".. if that's not the library for Glimmer, I don't know what is).

My stumbling block now is Android.  I'm using different code and different LEDs and my Android contol app doesn't work worth beans anymore.  It crashes the whole tail pretty regularly.  Grr.  I've been banging on it for 2 days now and getting nowhere, but I do have confidence that I'll at least have something working by the time I leave for Mexico on the 19th.

((ok, geek/off))

So I will have some new photos and video of the new tail soon!  For now, here are a few pics from last year's Mermaid Portfolio Workshop to get you excited.  They certainly get me excited!

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