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  • Ultimate control over interior lighting

    Hello all -

    In the spirit of the truly out-of-this world uses of a carputer ...
    I'd like to have a ton of 3-color LED's in my interior, and be able to control their brightness, color, and what region of the car they are lighting. The user could put a point on the floorplan of the car, and the computer would interpolate that point with the rest of the car ...

    In other words, if you want the front left of the cab to be red, and the back right to be blue, the computer would make those ends those colors and fade from red to purple to blue in between.

    Theoretically, if the computer could control the brightness and color to each of the 3-color LED's and they were arranged about an inch apart throughout the interior, you could be able to make up any number of lighting effects both practical and decorative that would make these guys green with envy.

    The ideal would be an interface on a touchscreen. I quickly drew up two of the three screens that I have envisioned (the other screen would be controlling lights on the exterior, maybe an LED panel with words, etc) one to make a preset, and the next to select or cycle through (fade from one to the next) presets:



    And yeah I got on the roof to take a picture of my Bug from above. In the left example, a purplyblue color is being placed at the driver's seat at about 90% luminosity. In the right, the user is selecting preset three, which is basically a spotlight for whoever's reading in the back right. I imagine you could also determine how long it takes to go from one preset to another. There are also four spot on/off controls for each seat.
    I think it's pretty self-explanatory and would fit onto a small monitor. I admit freely this would be very hard to program, and I have no idea how it would be done, wiring, programming or otherwise: only that it's theoretically possible...

    But I thought maybe you guys might be nuts enough to go for it.
    You are all guilty of feeding the drug habit I have: obsessing with my car. Damn you!!

  • #2
    This has to be one of the cooler ideas I have seen on this forum.
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    • #3
      I was hoping someone could do something like his for my Varad lights i have on the under body. custom patterns would be great plus after it was mastered i could add on my own led bars with some simple wiring. i hope someone out there would take on a project like this it would be awesome
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      • #4
        Originally posted by impulsenine
        Hello all -

        In the spirit of the truly out-of-this world uses of a carputer ...
        I'd like to have a ton of 3-color LED's in my interior, and be able to control their brightness, color, and what region of the car they are lighting. The user could put a point on the floorplan of the car, and the computer would interpolate that point with the rest of the car ...

        In other words, if you want the front left of the cab to be red, and the back right to be blue, the computer would make those ends those colors and fade from red to purple to blue in between.

        Theoretically, if the computer could control the brightness and color to each of the 3-color LED's and they were arranged about an inch apart throughout the interior, you could be able to make up any number of lighting effects both practical and decorative that would make these guys green with envy.

        The ideal would be an interface on a touchscreen. I quickly drew up two of the three screens that I have envisioned (the other screen would be controlling lights on the exterior, maybe an LED panel with words, etc) one to make a preset, and the next to select or cycle through (fade from one to the next) presets:



        And yeah I got on the roof to take a picture of my Bug from above. In the left example, a purplyblue color is being placed at the driver's seat at about 90% luminosity. In the right, the user is selecting preset three, which is basically a spotlight for whoever's reading in the back right. I imagine you could also determine how long it takes to go from one preset to another. There are also four spot on/off controls for each seat.
        I think it's pretty self-explanatory and would fit onto a small monitor. I admit freely this would be very hard to program, and I have no idea how it would be done, wiring, programming or otherwise: only that it's theoretically possible...

        But I thought maybe you guys might be nuts enough to go for it.

        Ive considered it an am working on it
        but its at the bottom of my list for now
        Co Develper of A.I.M.E.E Automotive Intelligent Multimedia Entertainment Engine
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        • #5
          Sweeeeet. Maybe by the time you finish it, I'll have a carputer actually installed and could work on the graphics skins for you. Please don't consider this to be exemplary of my photoshop work though .. this is 20 mins. My car's budding site is a better example.
          You are all guilty of feeding the drug habit I have: obsessing with my car. Damn you!!

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          • #6
            Theoretically possible? Absolutely!

            Programmable? Sure.

            Financially feasible? I don't know. That is gonna be a heck of a lot of transistors and LEDs, and a pretty complex structure of electronics.

            I'm thinking you break the whole thing down into an X,Y grid, and save the whole thing as an array. Then you would have a color level (R, G, B or whatever the three color LEDs are...) for each point, as well as a brightness. Then send this data to the electronics, and have the "black box" do the work.

            Here's what I am thinking:
            You would need a central microprocessor to do most of the work for you.

            Then, how many different zones are you thinking about having on at any given time? For each zone, you could have a seperate dimmer circuit, maybe PWM, or DAC, or something similar.

            Each of these would connect to the final "switches" that turn on and off each LED. Then you would have the microcontroller turn on and off the LEDs in question, which would then be at the designated brightness.

            The only thing that this would limit would be that the brightness of a given pattern, say the spotlight over the map reading passenger, would need to the same brightness throughout. I was thinking that if you could dreate simple patterns, or even complex ones, it would benice to vary the brightness through the pattern. Like a fading circle would be really cool.
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            • #7
              This is an RGB LED >>>

              http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?...rldID=&doy=4m3

              You need lots of it and probably wont be bright enough. Not gonna be cheap.

              Your best bet is to use coloured lamps, coloured REG, GREEN and BLUE. Place them together to make a large RGB lamp. A diffusing cover is gonna be needed also.

              You will also need to control the brightness of each lamp to produce any colour required.

              20 large RGB lamps place around the car not good enough?

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              • #8
                i know i would b down to do this :-D i got blue led tubes in my car under my dash and above the rear pass seats id like to change colors to resemble mood speed and time of day :-D

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                • #9
                  check out mcubed:

                  http://www.mcubed-tech.com/eng/produkt_features.htm

                  Their lightblaster product seems to be quite advanced. I haven't used it, but I've tried their other products which have proven to be quite good.

                  Of course, i don't think it supports the complexity you're looking for, but it might be worth a shot. It supports CCFL and halogen lights. There are some cool videos of it in action somewhere, but I can't seem to find them at the moment.... perhaps you can google for them?

                  Oh yeah, they also have the ability to pulse w/ the beat of your music I believe.

                  EDIT: Nm, i found the videos. Check em out on Tom's. Personally, I think the string video is really cool.
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                  • #10
                    A consideration of cost and a few logistics:

                    Mounting
                    I was planning on mounting the LED's just below my car's ceiling under the edge of the headliner. I would build and mount a sconce made of custom fiberglass/bondo, and mount the LED's in it. The LED's would be behind the railing made by the sconce, so to make very "ambient" indirect lighting - starting directly at LED's isn't fun. This is the reason behind having four "spot" lights (also probably going to be small white LED clusters), one for each passenger. No real idea how much that would cost, but relative to some of the mods made here, not too much. This is an image of the area I'm talking about in my car:


                    The rear-right spot would be mounted where the circle is, and the fiberglass sconce would be mounted along the edge noted by the arrows.

                    Money
                    According to LSDiodes.com, color LEDs are $1.10 per LED. My head liner is 180 inches all the way around. I'm sure that one LED per 1.5-5 inches is more than enough to provide the light needed, so somewhere between $40-$130 worth of LED's is needed. Wires would cost a bit but can't be more than, what, $25? Even for the good stuff.

                    The really expensive cost here, I imagine, is TIME. The 'black box' components wouldn't be expensive but would take forever. Ditto programming the software to use it. My guess for the total cost, though, is $300. Yeah it is a lot of money but compared to what people put into lighting systems for neon or whatever, and given what this mofo could do...

                    Wiring
                    The sconce itself would also house the massive amount of wiring required to do this. Thankfully each LED would use very little power and therefore very thin wires could be used (er, is that right?). But to have this sort of control over each LED, they must be individually wired to our 'black box,' not daisy chained. I'll admit I'm no electrician but I can't picture a way around that. Would it be possible to use the sconce as a ground for all those, perhaps put a piece of metal through it that the LEDs could ground to, and then ground the sconce to the body of the car? Heh, I guess this is one nice thing about being surrounded by metal in my car ... grounds abound.

                    The Black Box
                    I agree, this is the best way to do it because depending on the number of LEDs, there will be between 108 and 360 (!) wires going out of that box, at one wire for every color of every LED. It seems to me that the processing of color mixing and what colors each LED should display would happen on the carputer itself - the black box would be primarily for getting that signal from the computer to the LEDs.

                    I'm going to guess that the best way to get a computer to control a black box would be through a port that has LOTS of pins, but really when it comes to the making of the black box and such, I'm at a loss. You could probably make a wiring diagram that repeats itself and so essentially make 50 copies of the same circuit one for each pin, but that is as far as I'll guess.

                    This is fun.
                    You are all guilty of feeding the drug habit I have: obsessing with my car. Damn you!!

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                    • #11
                      I just know that by the end of this, my EE friends are going to ignore all my calls. In case anybody's curious, I haven't started actually doing much with a carputer -- but am keen on knowing what I'm doing before I do. Leelu (the car) has to have some other things repaired before she has this fancy stuff done to her.
                      You are all guilty of feeding the drug habit I have: obsessing with my car. Damn you!!

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                      • #12
                        http://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7/...base_id/54796/ :-D i should just mount 4 of those in my car haha... there very bright ive got 6 of them for stage lighting at concerts :-P

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                        • #13
                          Do you really think LED is bright enough to light up the whole car?

                          The controller,

                          Most logical way is to of course connect each LEDs to the main controller unit. As you said lots of long wires are needed.


                          Ill do it something like this >>>

                          Divide the RGB LEDs into 4s. The 4 RGB LEDS have a controller on board. This board consist of a PIC that drives each color of the LED directly using a PWM. The PIC outputs 4x3 software driven PWM to vary the brightnes of the LEDs. The controller uses 2 wires to comunicates to the main controller, the PC perhaps, using I2C bus.

                          The controller have its own address, so you can send a command to that particular set of 4 RGB LEDS only. On top of that you have to define which of the 4 LEDs you want to change colour, then you define how much intensity you want on these RGB.

                          So you send something like this >>>

                          Controller ID > LED ID > RED VALUE > GREEN VALUE > BLUE VALUE

                          For 20 RGB LEDs you need 5 controller of course.

                          As you can see you only need 4 wires going into the PC. The power and the serial control lines can all share.

                          Can be done.

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                          • #14
                            Chris31 - please define:

                            PWM, PIC, I2C bus.

                            If I understand this, would you need 50 controllers for 200 LEDs? I'm going to sic a few of the guys I know who got PhD's in Optics and EE ...
                            You are all guilty of feeding the drug habit I have: obsessing with my car. Damn you!!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by impulsenine
                              Chris31 - please define:

                              PWM, PIC, I2C bus.

                              If I understand this, would you need 50 controllers for 200 LEDs? I'm going to sic a few of the guys I know who got PhD's in Optics and EE ...

                              Ok Ill explain it very briefly

                              PWM = pulse width modulation. Use this techinique to vary the intensity of the LEDs. The output drives the LED directly at a very high frequency, so high that you cant see any flashing. The mark/space determine the intensity of the light. For example, the longer the "on" time of the LED means bright. Less on time, more off time means dim LED. Equal on and off time means medium brightness.

                              PIC = A family of microcontroller made by microchips. www.microchips.com. You program this little chips to do what you want really. Can be done in ASM, BASIC or C. They are cheaps all in one solutions.

                              I2C = A type of serial communications, requiring a clock signal and data.

                              Use google if you want further info.

                              If you really want that much LEDs then you will need to control those LEDs serially as I would have done it. Running 3x200 wires plus common ground is messy. The PWM to drive the LED is much much cheaper rather than going for 200 DACs.

                              No need to follow the I2C bus. All you really want is each controllers with a bank of 4 RGB leds to react when its address is being called. You can increase the number of RGB LEDs per controller to let say 16, this will reduce the controller needed.

                              [PC]=========[0--0--0--0]==[0--0--0--0]==[0--0--0--0]...and so on

                              [PC] - The PC you are using to control the LEDs, notice only 2 wires are needed

                              [0--0--0--0] - 4 RGB LEDs with controller, each controller have its own unique address

                              0 - RGB LEDs

                              == - 2 wire serial bus

                              Power supply not shown

                              Hope that make sense

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