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LED Curtain

  I've seen low-budget backdrops at concerts/performances which were merely a few LEDs sporadically placed about a dark curtain, emulating what could be stars - having just a simple flashing & flickering pattern.  I see these and think to myself;  I can totally make that in a jiffy!
  I never had the motivation to actually go about it until recently:  Someone I had met at an event had contacted me wondering if I could build such a thing for a benefit dinner event.  The request was for a large 14ft x 8ft backdrop that would be emulating burning embers.  Perfect, that's exactly like the starry curtains do with white LEDs.  To be flame-like, I'd use red LEDs at the bottom, gradually using orange LEDs in the middle, finishing with yellow LEDs at the top.
  Cool!  Easy.  I don't want to bother with programming or microcontrollers with this, so to get some flickering I thought of using LEDs from electronic tea-light candles.  Also, it would be nice to have a lapping flame effect, I used what is called a shift register to take the flicker of a tea-light LED and "shift" it through 8 distinct sections of LEDs.  That ended up working great, the backdrop has a flowing animation upward, while each distinct group of LEDs has its own flickering effect as well.
The controller: Installed :
Controller Explanation Video:

Working Product:

You may have seen one of my backdrops at:
  • Maker Faire 2014 @ San Mateo County Expo Center, San Mateo, CA
    Sat-Sun 14.05.17-14.05.18
  • Maker Faire 2012 @ San Mateo County Expo Center, San Mateo, CA
    Fri-Sun 12.05.18-12.05.20 (Lapping and Flickering Fire (Condensed))
  • DIFFA's Dining by Design S.F. 2011 @ San Francisco Design Center, San Francisco, CA
    Wed-Thu 11.11.16-11.11.17 (Lapping and Flickering Fire)
    With SF State Interior Design students
Suit design(s), panel design(s), images and content created by and copyright © 2008-2024 Erik Johnson uness otherwise noted.
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