LED sequenced or "synchronized" drivers - For a neat project

Thread Starter

Darth Jal

Joined Mar 30, 2017
12
Hi Everyone!

Thanks so much for having me in these forums! I am excited to be here, and am also excited to see all the great things!

I do work on "light sabers" for the Star Wars community, and mostly have done wiring to direct soundboards with maybe a "accent" LED here or there.

However, I am working on a project for a friend of mine, that is going to require ":synchronized" small (possibly 5mm) LEDs blinking in a particular (non-random) order. As you may imagine, in "space control boards", etc. We are also working on a "backdrop" SW themed for our 501st Garrison...and I have been asked to work the electronics part.

So, my question...two part:
1. How can I "drive" about 8 small LED's, 4 of which do not need to blink, and that need to blink in a programmed, sequenced pattern (repetitive)?
2. Can this be done with as small of a footprint as possible, in DC using minimal wiring?

I really appreciate any help to get to the right drivers and items I could wire to to make this happen. It would be a HUGE help!

Thanks Everyone!
Jon
 

Alec_t

Joined Sep 17, 2013
12,162
4 of which do not need to blink, and that need to blink in a programmed, sequenced pattern (repetitive)?
Welcome to AAC.
Did you mean 4 don't blink and the other 4 do?
It's not clear what sequence you have in mind. Can you post a timing diagram?
 
Last edited:

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
12,931
Welcome to AAC!
How can I "drive" about 8 small LED's, 4 of which do not need to blink, and that need to blink in a programmed, sequenced pattern (repetitive)?
That could be done with an astable multivibrator (e.g. 555 timer), and a 4 bit counter. If you're particular about the order of the blinking, you can design your own 4 bit counter that will count in the sequence you want.

It would be helpful if you stated the pattern you wanted for the blinking LEDs.

A microcontroller would give you the most flexibility in a small form factor; but I'm not in the habit of using sledge hammers to swat flies...
 

Thread Starter

Darth Jal

Joined Mar 30, 2017
12
Welcome to AAC.
Did you meam 4 don't blink and the other 4 do?
It's not clear what sequence you have in mind. Can you post a timing diagram?
Well, I don't have one (yet), but here is a synopsis...

The circuit would have 4 green small "accent" (5mm) Green LED's, those would stay on when the system is on, not blinking.

Then, there will be 4 "accent" (same as above) Red LED's that would need to "blink" in a specialized pattern...I will try to get a diagram posted for a more detailed question.

I do apologize, most of what I have done prior is wire directly to "pre-programmed" Sound / light Boards for sabers, I do not have much experience (yet) in actually setting up or programming the circuits. So I do apologize if the question isn't more technical. I am wanting to learn.

Thanks a bunch for looking and trying to help...very much appreciated!

Jon
 

Thread Starter

Darth Jal

Joined Mar 30, 2017
12
Here...I suppose I need to trust, here...

Think Darth Vader's Chest box and belt boxes...the lights on the chest box (the red ones) blink in a "pattern" while the ones on the belt stay on without varying pattern (constant).

I am wanting to have all 3 boxes in one "system" to make it easy for my fellow Vaders...
 

Thread Starter

Darth Jal

Joined Mar 30, 2017
12
Welcome to AAC!

That could be done with an astable multivibrator (e.g. 555 timer), and a 4 bit counter. If you're particular about the order of the blinking, you can design your own 4 bit counter that will count in the sequence you want.

It would be helpful if you stated the pattern you wanted for the blinking LEDs.

A microcontroller would give you the most flexibility in a small form factor; but I'm not in the habit of using sledge hammers to swat flies...
Thank you! I was figuring I would need to do some type of creation to have the particular "pattern" on the sychronized blinkers, this is the part I will need to research and learn. What a great place to do so! Thanks so much for this forum, this will help me accomplish what I am trying to do.

As you can see above, it isn;t something major, but, it does need to be "accurate" with the timing and sync...
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
12,931
I was figuring I would need to do some type of creation to have the particular "pattern" on the sychronized blinkers
A 4 bit binary counter will count in this sequence:
upload_2017-3-30_8-19-26.png
Imagine the 1's turning on LEDs; you've probably seen this pattern in a lot of Sci-Fi movies.
 

Bernard

Joined Aug 7, 2008
5,788
I'm still confused. A repeating pattern can be made with a sequential pulse generator, 4017, diodes & OR gate, or one that I have used, a parallel input shift register to manually, hard wired or dip switch, generate a pattern. An example on: YouTube, Jack Bernard lightning. I call it " Lightning in a Bottle ".
 

Thread Starter

Darth Jal

Joined Mar 30, 2017
12
A 4 bit binary counter will count in this sequence:
View attachment 123646
Imagine the 1's turning on LEDs; you've probably seen this pattern in a lot of Sci-Fi movies.
Thank you Dennis!

That was what I was trying to see about. Assuming all 8 are on the some board...I could "isolate" the ones I want to blink from the ones I don't using this type of programming...correct?

So I would, essentially, do a standard "wiring", and run the 4 that I want to blink in the "sequences" above, and leave the other four on "all 1"s".

Again, I really appreciate the help. I am a novice and trying to learn...but I am so very appreciative of the help...truly am.

Thank you all!
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
12,931
So I would, essentially, do a standard "wiring", and run the 4 that I want to blink in the "sequences" above, and leave the other four on "all 1"s".
You can position the LEDs in any pattern you want. Wire the four that you want always on to the power source with a current limiting resistor for each.

For the four that you want to blink, you can use the LOW outputs to turn them on (less circuitry); and arrange them in any order you want.

With this approach, you'd have 2 IC (one 8 pin, one 14 or 16 pin), 10 resistors, 2 capacitors, and your power source.
 

Thread Starter

Darth Jal

Joined Mar 30, 2017
12
Thanks so much...I'll get to work on the prototype and report back.

I'll keep the project in this thread and get some pics and schematics in, too.

Very helpful...very appreciated! Thank you!
 

AnalogKid

Joined Aug 1, 2013
9,296
There are a *lot* of different ways for an electronic circuit to make LEDs blink. The timing pattern is everything. Think about this from the circuit's point of view. It doesn't care about physical arrangement, only about how bright and how long.

1. For the 4 blinking LEDs, are more than one ever on at the same time?

2. Do they blink in a fixed pattern or randomly? Note, I mean fixed timing pattern. They can be in a straight line, the 4 corners of a box, or a stunted T shape. don't care.

3. Is there a short time between blinks when all LEDs are off (dead time), or does one LED come on the instant the previous one goes off.

Also, what is your skill set / comfort level with soldering electronic components on a breadboard?

ak
 

Thread Starter

Darth Jal

Joined Mar 30, 2017
12
There are a *lot* of different ways for an electronic circuit to make LEDs blink. The timing pattern is everything. Think about this from the circuit's point of view. It doesn't care about physical arrangement, only about how bright and how long.

1. For the 4 blinking LEDs, are more than one ever on at the same time?

2. Do they blink in a fixed pattern or randomly? Note, I mean fixed timing pattern. They can be in a straight line, the 4 corners of a box, or a stunted T shape. don't care.

3. Is there a short time between blinks when all LEDs are off (dead time), or does one LED come on the instant the previous one goes off.

Also, what is your skill set / comfort level with soldering electronic components on a breadboard?

ak
Thank you for the help!
Answers:

1. Yes...depending on which "loop" is being used.
2. The pattern is synchronized in maybe 3 "loops". Three (red leds) are stacked one over the other, over the other. Sometimes the top and bottom are on, middle is off, then middle on, others off, then middle and top, bottom off, etc. I am working on the exact patterns used in the movie. Takes some screen captures, rewinding, pause, etc. Essentially, the "pattern" is fixed...adjusting through the different "looks".
3. Typically...one pattern substitutes the other immediately...with no "delay" between them.

I am trying to replicate the blinking pattern of the Chest Box worn by Darth Vader in the "Original Trilogy" movies, essentially.

Thanks a bunch!
 

Thread Starter

Darth Jal

Joined Mar 30, 2017
12

Here is a short "collage" of the box in action.

Some have done arduino...but I am trying to find the most simple and proficient way to do it. I am combining several "features" into one system.
 

Thread Starter

Darth Jal

Joined Mar 30, 2017
12
P.S. Having looked in every possible scene...

It is like the box above. Total of 9 LED'S (3 in each "slot".

With the pattern above. I am certain that was done with the arduino Nano board.
From what I have seen on the above, due to the patterns and fading, etc...the board was the "only way to go". I would think there may be an easier way.

Again...sorry for any lack of detail...I started research last evening...but am ramping up as fast as I can.

And, yes...I am what I would consider "advanced" at soldering small electronics.

Thanks again!
 

Alec_t

Joined Sep 17, 2013
12,162
To replicate the blinks in the video you will clearly need 9 LEDs (plus the four non-blinking LEDs).
The patterns look to be pseudo-random. Easily done with an Arduino or other micro, but also possible with discrete components.
 

AnalogKid

Joined Aug 1, 2013
9,296
Watching the original clips, it does not look like the three groups of 3 LEDs each are independent. that is, even though each of the three LED groups might have a random pattern, all groups are clocked through their patterns with a single master clock. That they fade both on and off is impressive for its time.

Three pseudo-random patters can be as simple as three lookup tables. But 9 PWM outputs will take some crunchy coding.

ak
 

Thread Starter

Darth Jal

Joined Mar 30, 2017
12
You guys are awesome!

I thought the same thing about it being impressive for it's time, then I thought "ILM" and that was that.

I am going to contain the electronics in the box...but need to have a speaker, amp, etc. In there as well for the voice changer and effects / MP3 loops too.

So...for the experts...with all of this...would I not be in the best position stepping up, doing an arduino application that can run all of it with "modules" for the different functions? In all my reading today (love this site and all the brain power in it)...it looks like that may be the easier (relatively speaking of course) plan of attack to make everything tie together. I am doing fans in the helmet, hearing assist, mp3 loops, mic to voice-changer, etc...

Not trying to complicate...just wanted to see if at that point...I could benefit with the arduino and modules running off the one board. Boy...that escalated quickly! Haha.

Thanks everyone!
 
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