Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.


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I have been having a lot of fun playing around with CheerLights.

What are CheerLights? It's a project with devices connected all around the world. When someone tweets a color to the @cheerlights account, the lights on every connected device change to that color.

Last year I rebuilt a fiber optic Christmas tree with cheerlights and stuck a webcam on it. Well, that was fun, but what if someone isn't on Twitter? What if we just want to sit down and play with changing colors? I built a web interface to allow anyone to change a color. You can play with it here. It's kind of glitchy, but it generally works.*

Currently we have a cast resin Edison bulb in place. I'd love to do seasonal objects if I have the time.

(Caution: GeekSpeak ahead!)

This dovetailed into a long-term costume lighting project involving remote control of lights on a costume. What if (for example) I were to wave a magic wand and all of the lights on my dress were to change color? Everything I've worked with involved wi-fi, and if you're at a convention in a hotel, Wi-Fi is not the best idea. I have this issue finally resolved by using a pair of Adafruit Feather boards with radios. 

Since then I've discovered the ESP 32 series of boards. Most of these support both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. There are some cool projects out there to get these boards to talk to each other and avoid using a separate Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection.

Behold! The Electric Flapper Hat!

This requires me to use an Adafruit Bluefruit app on my phone, but once it's connected the hat will go get the CheerLights color and display it. I can wear this in the halls at a convention - or at any place for that matter - and not have to worry about setting up a wi-fi connection and re-programming the board. 

I'll have the Christmas tree back in place soon. In the meantime, I'm working on a few minor code changes.

*Please note the issue with the HTML color picker. That showed up in today's Chrome update. You can still pick a color, at least after a fashion.

Filed under: Technology   Lights         
11/3/2022 10:33:51 AM
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