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Micro autonomous programmable and automatic lights under arduino Jorge Valencia Alvarez

Abstract—This is a research project aimed at achieving improved performance and capabilities of these small autonomous programmed lighting systems. With a special focus on meeting the needs of artist people and the economic viability of the researched products

to the mass production of these devices. Arduino is the flagship project of the free hardware movement. Very similar in intent to free software. From this initiative to come a lot more or less free hardware as also used in the prototypes called BlinkM.

Index Terms—arduino, blinkm, free, hardware

I. I NTRODUCTION HE Micro Autonomous Systems Light programmable electronic devices are mostly used in the art world, for the most spectacular performance numbers mainly juggling and less to place them in the dress of the actors in plays as well as installations modern artists and integrators of new technologies. The first use of these mechanisms has led to a new artistic movement called processing which is nothing more than a new way to interact with new technologies with artistic elements in the quest to produce prints on the public through new creations technology. They are often lacking in practical application as it seeks above all to generate feelings and usually involves the use of color and sound or movement with artistic intention. Facilities that interact in our way or that produce different sounds depending on our position or body temperature are some of the examples could be cited. Light clothing or objects in theatrical performances are other uses.


Figure 2.

BlinkM models used in prototypes

This has been successful in this field to set up flexible systems with free hardware arduino and derivatives. In the field of these mechanisms there is only one company offering such systems on the market called Aerotech providing the ability to programming color and brightness into a small enough device to use in juggling. All other products in the market are limited to giving random light colors or the best answer to the sound impulses to turn the device as a visual plugin as might be found in any mp3 player. Shortcomings of existing technology

Figure 1.

Mini Arduino Pro used in the prototype II

II. S TATE OF THE ART Within the field of processing technologies developed systems arduino are the most common and flexible. This is because many times a design with a specific functionality is only going to serve a particular show. Companies often refuse care of the needs of this market because every solution has to be very personalized and lack of common use of a product makes the business unprofitable due not be of interest University of León

In all technologies available today, the start signal is always performed manually except Areotech which allows simultaneous boot devices via USB hub.However, and unfortunately the use of this technology even using all the material recommended by them is not a precise technology regarding booting or simultaneity of the release of same, offering sometimes lags a second or more. This is a great disadvantage in shows that are synchronized to the music video or preventing the proper execution of the work, illuminating the actors do when they are still behind the scenes or producing an undesirable feeling of lack of sync on stage. It is possible to do some tricks to work well using some features of the latest hardware revisions, but is not documented and its implementation just is really hard to get a start in sync with the other elements of the show. Another major problem is that the system programmed by Aerotech means of a sequential system that are loaded through the usb available through a java interface that only works in some versions of Windows operating system and for proper operation needs complicated drivers system whose installation is really very difficult. This creates several pitfalls that should be solved with a new system. The need to use


a single computer and only for programming and triggering devices, since any further ancillary facility may impair the synchronicity of the shooting start or the proper functioning of the programming and hinder the detection of hardware drivers. That is, you must have a computer available exclusively for use with this systems that currently exist in the market. The need for this computer is to be a real computer and not virtual machine to guarantee the minimization of latency trigger and the physical discomforts of migration and system support that this entails. In fact, the companies that use these systems always have two real computers with the same hardware already installed to address any eventuality. The loss of accuracy in the execution of programming commands concatenated very long. Typically devices come on stage last half hour.During that time running orders are usually adding a cumulative loss of synchrony due to rounding of its units of measure. Only a quarter of a second is unacceptable in any show synchronized with music. The modification of the chain of events scheduled involves recalculating the subsequent even-cough, with the possibility of failure that this implies and discomfort obtained P ROBLEMS AND NEEDS In summary we have these problems and needs: 1) There aren’t currently on the market Micro Autonomous Systems of Light program offering precision beyond the 5 minutes since the system is triggered, there is currently no guarantee that a total synchronicity once this time. 2) Best of all existing systems, it is very difficult to program and requires the help of a professional or an expert to compose a sequence selected a priori successfully. 3) The recommended trigger system of the currently available products is not precise when shooting more than 8 devices simultaneously. So much so that until the provider has to trick their public videos demonstrations to get the launch sequence matches the music. We can see from this demonstration of the company in the minute 3:20. 4) The price is too expensive. 5) The system is platform, not even work on all versions of Windows operating system. 6) It must run in virtual machines. 7) The battery used is not resistant to shock, which is a big problem if we thought that these systems are intended to be used in the world of show and any accidental bumps or falls can end its useful life.


7) Improves the shock resistance options. 8) Minimum autonomy of one hour at maximum throughput. IV. M ETHODOLOGY Based on the needs described above, the goal we have set is find a system interface to "read" colors like a musical instrument and record the time events as easily as they do with sequencers. This "light" interpretation will run while you see the video or music show with which they will be synchronized autonomous lighting systems, so that the desired light sequence is recorded in sync with the audio, allowing later edition if needed. The record will be transmitted later to the light devices trougth a program with a cross-platform interface becoming permanently programmed. The start of the programming of the devices will be made by physical switch. Not computer needed in the start process. Whether the arrival of electricity or activating a reset button. Other aspects of the other devices on the market are considered adequate for the realization of the prototype and battery charging from the usb and the blurring of the light source through the translucent surfaces illuminated device. We need a system that allows easy command insertion in the system.In our case will produce light. The parameters that must be able to handle the programming interface is temporal, brightness and color. We must be able to allow their programming in real time and also its posterior edition and also to review the implementation of the parameters to preview the final result. A MIDI sequencer meets all these requirements, it is completely standard, you can combine any media type and even those who are not and they all produce output programming in standard MIDI file format After this step we will need a translator commands that allows the system to understand the language of MIDI to BlinkM / arduino as chosen in this case. And finally a hardware, in this case RGB LEDs + programmer BlinkM LinkM/Arduino. PROTOTYPE


In the prototype we has been used an ultra high-performance battery and a LED light assembly only in a beginner club whith this plus a microswitch. The club was chosen because it is the more complex deployment situation of these devices as they must obey strict rules of durability, impact resistance and equilibrium inside the prototype for the proper management of the club. Hardware

III. O BJECTIVES Given the needs identified, the objective of this project is to create a system that: 1) Be very precise in the execution of their programming until the end of battery life. 2) Easy to program and especially aimed at artists. 3) Precise in its simultaneous startting sequence. 4) At an affordable price. 5) Multiplatform. 6) Runs on a virtual machines.

The choice of hardware is mainly due to economic and spacial reasons and varies according to needs. In this case, the most complex possible, which is to perform a juggling club type, we have serious restrictions and technological space. The batteries have to last at least an hour supporting specific consumption ends up according up to 3W depending of LEDs used. We have chosen two types of batteries with the NIMH rechargeable AA standard format as the common use but implemented to optimize the charge through USB and ultraspecialized and ultra-compact lightweight Li-Po 110 mAh to



Sequencer This is a popular apple sequencer called GarageBand. We have chosen this as one of the most popular and possibly be the only one that in itself does not have the ability to export MIDI files, requiring the installation of the freeware utility downloadable at MIDI http://

Figure 3.

Internal of prototipe I, BlinkM & Battery Li-Po

3 7V extracted from the propulsion system of a model aircraft. Of the possible combinations of hardware the most economical and light is RGB LEDs BlinkM + programmer LinkM. The possible combinations could be multiple and will make a first prototype implementation of the combination which seems most optimal. This would allow us to reduce the price of production of the prototype bad bar to just 35 euros per club and would rise to 50 euros with ultra light batteries and Li-Po would come to 40 euros with standard batteries. Both LinkM as Arduino allow us to program multiple devices at once. Figure 6.

Figure 4.

BlinkM Programmer needed for BlinkM only solution

Although Arduino does not have many limitations, is note the same for the LinkM programmer. Schedule 9 simultaneous devices that allows the programmer LinkM seems more than sufficient besides being more comfortable because they are already adapted to the specific device BlinkM. The price of prototype parts including bearings are at sight distance of 200 Pounds item cheaper mass-produced by the companies on the market. With this combination we would get to mass produce a product with a fixed cost on the programmer (LinkM) of 20 euros and that produced by others and would get a cost of production of type juggling club that would not exceed 30 euros in the case of a single LED device.

Figure 5.

LinkM programmer needed for BlinkM only solution

Garage Band Apple sequencer

This sequencer as we can see, synchronize the execution of a video track, the sound of it, and then we have three MIDI tracks that will be the programming of the three light devices of our system. Ease of use is obvious. The color assigned to the high correlation of note is very intuitive. As noted in the figure above, pressing the keys on the keyboard while run the video tour of the rainbow colors as seen on the runway lights mace 1. On the juggling club lights 2 we can see that we have simply run a color off and on and lights on the juggling club we run a simple 3 permanent color with changes of brightness. Value that is associated with sound volume property. The edition is unlimited flexibility. You can stop, move a color or note by changing the height or color, extending its duration in time, and edit if desired brightness with a mouse. Flexibility of execution is also surprising. Although in this case we used a typical MIDI instrument such as piano-style keyboard, there are thousands of devices that could control MIDI note values/color and volume/brightness. An example might be near the surface of an iphone or laptop’s trackpad itself using a simple algorithm of x, y. There are many programs and most of them free and open source software that convert at nearly any MIDI device input interface information from a computer. Very common in use are the converse of signals from the joysticks games that could also be MIDI appropriate for this use by placing the black in the dead of the joystick and producing a chromatic color circle around the lever distance from the center which could transmit the brightness value or others if necessary. MIDI note converter to Arduino/BlinkM color sequences and brightness value We have the two parts necessary for ideal performance. All we need is the communicator mediator between the two


Figure 7.

Iphone with MIDI controler

languages: the standard language and very well know specific MIDI programming and BlinkM or Arduino text programing system.


while the device can emit only one color at a time. Although you can configure your MIDI instrument into the sequencer and say that our instrument is monophonic and thus totally clean overlapping notes programming track would be desirable to implement the converter is also feature in the future. This would totally change the way of programming the converter that would be a simple system of sequential orders dump dump orders be referenced to a timeline and which would be essential to verify the overlap of notes that now occurs. Another problem is that the MIDI specification is incredibly long and although we play a single note many messages are being transmitted simultaneously to the converter has to ignore such as synchronization messages and other typical properties of the instruments that we will not used as modulation or pitch of the note (generally known as Pitch). There are thousands of messages in the MIDI standard that allow almost anything and you have to ignore them when transcribing the commands. Many of them affect note messages of producing an effect modifier. MIDI files are written in hexadecimal, that makes very small arms and load optimized for small devices. It is necessary therefore to make or find some free software that saves us the arduous task of identifying the hexadecimal chains notes and take them out and do some work prior to conversion. In this case we made the software development from an abandoned GPL software the makes easy convert the MIDI signals to Arduino/BlinkM language.

Figure 9.

Figure 10.

Arduino one color programming example

BlinkM Various colors programming example

V. R ESULTS Developed prototypes: •

Figure 8.

MIDI pre-converter output

• •

Although at first seem easy to make a simple translator that certain note is equal to a certain color we will see that it is not an easy task and that is why the system is in beta. In principle manually assign certain notes to certain colors allocated in proportion to suit the convenience of users of different keyboard layouts with more or fewer keys. The first problem we encountered is that the instruments are polyphonic, meaning you can issue multiple sounds at once

• • • • •

It is precise in the execution of their programming until the end of battery life It is easy to program, especially aimed at artists. It is precise in its simultaneous starting sequence. It has a considerable price margin with respect to existing alternatives. It is multiplatform. It can run on a virtual machine Has improved impact resistance compared to previous products Has a autonomy for most than one hour at maximum throughput.


VI. C ONCLUSIONS In conclusion we can claim to have advanced on enabling capabilities previously unavailable on micro-autonomous programmable and automatic lights and extend other undeveloped. We know it is possible to refine this technology much more so far in a precarious state due to lack of commercial interest in investment . We also showed that progress is possible not only the technological aspects but also in the economic optimization of the production of these devices as evidenced by the large price gap distance of a few simple prototypes with respect to manufactured products . VII. F UTURE W ORK 1) Perform a standard plugin type "vst" for displaying colors in the sequencer. 2) Integrate MIDI converter to programming languages in a very comprehensive solution forncreased usability. 3) Develop more MIDI converter features incorporating language commands programmed to interpret events more efficiently MIDI. For now only uses the color command and the delay command. 4) Start with manufacturated prototyping with the three possible combinations Arduino only, BlinkM + Arduino and BlinkM only and determine the appropriateness of technological and economical use of either system. R EFERENCES [1] Jonathan Oxer,Hugh Blemings. Practical Arduino: Cool Projects for Open Source Hardware, 2ž ed. Estados Unidos de América: Ediciones Apress, 2009. 422 p. ISBN 987-1-4302-2477-8 [2] David Miles Huber Smart Home Automation with Linux, 2ž ed. Apress., 2007. 289 p. Estados Unidos, ISBN 987-1-4302-2477-6 [3] VANDYK, J. The MIDI manual: a practical guide to MIDI in the project studio, 2ž ed. United States of America: Apress, 2008. 362p. ISBN 987-0-240-80798-0 [4] Helen Casabona,David Frederick Advanced MIDI Applications, 1ž ed. Alfred, 1988, 50 p. ISBN 0-88284-366-4 [5] SUEHRING, S. Thinking in Java, 4ž ed. Prentice Hall, Canada, 2009. 1463 p. ISBN 0-13-187248-6

Jorge Valencia Alvarez Computer, great promoter of the GNU movement and a lover and friend of literature, music and theater. All my knowledge I have gained mostly self-taught, although I studied drama at the Royal School of Madrid, and the specialty of teaching music at the School of Education at University of León and Informatics at UNED. I am currently pursuing a master’s degree research in cybernetics. I have worked in Telefónica Product Engineering Systems (TSIP) first as a System Administrator and after that as head of international projects in Brazil and later at the National Cancer Research Centre in Spain CNIO. After that I give computer courses on social guarantee program in my hometown of Leon in the Isadora Duncan Fundation. Any contributions to my inputs are always welcome..


Micro autonomous programmable and automaticlights under arduino  

This is a research project aimed at achieving im- proved performance and capabilities of these small autonomous programmed lighting systems....

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