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Electronics make my own incandescent display?

Discussion in 'Modding' started by Mr. Roboto, 27 May 2007.

  1. Mr. Roboto

    Mr. Roboto xBurningMikex

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    Well, I'm trying to use a series of incandescent bulbs to display information.

    First job, obviously is build the physical display. it's going to be rather large, so I'll skip that part here, but really what is important and the help that I need is...

    How can I control each light individually, without having the power going through my system? I'm going to have a lot of lights to control, so making a circuit out of the entire display is possible, but at this point, I am really looking for the beginning of the plans. Would this involve a solid-state relay circuit? Would it require one ssrc for every lamp? What sort of interface with my system would control the on/off of each lamp? How expensive is this? Long-term goals are to treat the whole display as if it were an external lcd/vfd, displaying marquee-like information, and/or creating a lightshow. I kind of realize the coding involved, but I really don't know where to start.

    I'm looking at about 2,000watts going through the whole thing at once, so I'm not ready to take a big risk with my mobo.

    I do have a bit of experience. I used to have a VFD display that I modified existing coding to work the way I wanted it to, but that was like 4 years ago, I think. I'm almost at square one, but my willingness to learn and motivation to get working on this project is tops.


    I haven't posted anything here in years, but I'm starting this large art project, so I'm really trying to get ground-roots information right now.

    I'm looking at the possibility of several hundred low-wattage bulbs, so if this requires massive amounts of circuitry and big bucks, I don't know how quickly I would be able to do this.


    Any help you can give would be greatly, greatly appreciated.

    Thanks a bunch!
     
  2. r4tch3t

    r4tch3t hmmmm....

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    So what kind of bulbs are you using? If they are mains powered then relays would be needed. A small circuit connected to the serial or parallel port using a pic should be fine. Then you could have it display a marquee or something when your computer is off as well.
    A relay would be needed for each bulb yes, unless you have some complicated circuitry [edit]Since you are looking at several hundred you should have a flip flop kind of thing so less relays would be needed.[/edit]
    Could you give us a quick sketch of what the overall display would look like?
     
  3. Moriquendi

    Moriquendi Bit Tech Biker

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    Mostly, displays like this are arranged as a matrix with one relay for each column and one for each row so that a lamp is only on when both its column and row are active at the same time.

    The advantages of this are that you need fewer relays and control lines, the disadvantages are that the column relays need to be pretty beefy (they will potentialy carry the current from every lamp in the column at the same time when theyre all on) and brightness is reduced because the lamps that are "on" in the image are not on all the time.

    Solid state relays are expensive and i dont know of any that can deal with mains voltage, if you can us low voltage DC then you can use mosfets in place of the relays which will be much cheaper.

    Moriquendi
     
  4. ch424

    ch424 Design Warrior

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    Yeah, low voltage with MOSFETs rather than relays will make it far easier to control, cheaper, smaller and won't wear out nearly as quickly, as well as allowing you to update the display faster. So basically, MOSFETs for the win. Or Darlingtons...

    Once you've sorted that out (the power interfacing), the control circuitry should be simpler: just a microcontroller with shift registers or latches of some kind.

    Once there are more details, this could take shape reasonably quicky. Sounds like a cool project, good luck!

    :thumb:
     
  5. Cabe

    Cabe What's a Dremel?

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  6. Upriverpaddler

    Upriverpaddler What's a Dremel?

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    There is such a thing as 24VDC incandescent light bulbs.
     
  7. Moriquendi

    Moriquendi Bit Tech Biker

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    You can get incandescent light bulbs for almost any voltage and wattage, they go in everything from car headlights (12v) to torches (anywhere between 1.5v and 12v) to light fittings (240v,110v ac). Finding a suitable low voltage bulb wont be a problem.

    Moriquendi
     
  8. Upriverpaddler

    Upriverpaddler What's a Dremel?

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    I meant a standard household style light bulb. You can get those for 24vdc.
     
  9. Mr. Roboto

    Mr. Roboto xBurningMikex

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    Well, pricepoint is one of my main concerns for the whole deal. I'm working with someone close to me to figure out a diagram and total production costs, but I need to find bulb/socket suppliers for the parts.

    Any ideas on US bulk lighting suppliers?


    The whole idea behind this is evolving a bit more every day, and sadly, construction has not started yet. When it takes a bit more shape, I'll be keeping everyone in the light. I'll be sure to post a project log.

    Thanks for all the help!
     

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