RGB LED setup for light painting

edited December 2013 in BlinkyTape Fun
How are the LEDs setup for light painting? Do I have to cut the LED the strip and arrange in a specific pattern to display the Nyan Cat example? Is it sufficient to simply power up the strip? If so, is it just the visual appeal that creates the painting?


  • BlinkyTape consists basically of 60 LEDs and a microcontroller that operates them, following the currently-loaded firmware.

    While "talking" to the computer to display some arbitrary pattern is possible, what's important is that this firmware allows BlinkyTape to operate independently, without commands from the computer (only the power through USB is needed).

    To set up the BlinkyTape to show an animation / image for light painting, non-programmer people can use PatternPaint to test how it looks and then flash the firmware that contains the image onto the BlinkyTape.
    If you want something more advanced, it's pretty easy to write your own firmware - trust me, it's easier than it sounds - and load it up onto Blinky. Nyan Cat is actually one of the "example" firmwares available.

    All of this is pretty well explained here: http://blinkinlabs.com/blinkytape/

    Hope that helps!
  • XanXan
    edited December 2013
    As for the Nyan Cat example and what creates the painting: you're basically keeping a photo camera with shutter open as you move BlinkyTape (preferably in some diffuser) sideways. As Blinky changes the displayed pattern, it creates a replica of the full picture.

    Basically, with light painting you trade 2-dimensionality of the original image onto 1 dimension of BlinkyTape and 1 dimension of time, and long shutter of the camera allows you to capture a whole interval of time as a spatial dimension, so you've got 2 dimensions again. I hope this almost makes sense :)
  • edited July 2014
    You might enjoy some of my LIGHT PAINTINGs made with Blinkytape: http://www.flickr.com/photos/phr/sets/72157637553377095/

    BTW- for diffusing the image you might want to use plastic; white plastic garbage bags.
  • edited June 2014
    What are you guys using for diffuser tubes? I'd love to get something thin to mount on the back of a recumbent bike and LED paint while riding town. :)
  • Hey!

    We sourced those diffusers in China and have really been struggling with finding a convenient US source.

    The best place might be alibaba.com but often those sales aren't for small amounts or charge a lot of shipping...
  • I was thinking about buying some transparent 1/2" triangular or half-round plastic rods.

    Something like this:

    or this: http://www.tapplastics.com/product/plastics/plastic_rods_tubes_shapes/corner_angle/151

    Sanding those down a bit (to make them more translucent) and zip-tying the LEDS to one side (pointing toward the rod), should make for a great diffuser. The only (minor) problem is that there'd be 1 angle with minimal light output.
  • That seems like it would work fairly well - maybe not 100% ideal but we'd love to see how it comes out!
  • superbrightleds.com has some good options for mounting the strip and adding a diffuser. There is an aluminum housing specifically for LED strips and it comes in a 39.3" length option which is the same as blinkytape: http://www.superbrightleds.com/moreinfo/bar-strip-accessories/klus-b1888anoda--micro-alu-series-surface-mount-anodized-aluminum-led-profile-housing/888/

    There are also diffusers from the same website: http://www.superbrightleds.com/moreinfo/bar-strip-accessories/klus-1547--led-profile-lens,-standard-frosted/890/

    I am planning on buying blinkytape and the products above in the very near future.
  • @ngfill94: Those look like just about the right kind. At that price, I guess we should stock them as well!
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