Locked Down, Free Range Pixels

Bottles Locked & Loaded

212 Bottle Locks were installed. The only notable thing here was the width of the parts seem to have increase slightly. They still fit but are snugger and a little more difficult to snap in place. The fixture we are using on the miter saw needs checked more often for accuracy.


With all the bottles now locked between the grid planes, the overall stiffness of the panels have increased. We had considered adding braces in the thirteenth row of pixels but at this point we’re holding off on that.


The Network is the Pixel Computer

The idea was always to put the pixel wall on its own network. We started with a NetGear 4-port switch to link the PixelPushers to the controller host hardware. From an Arduino to a Raspberry Pi, and landed on the new CuBox-i4Pro. After attempting to get its wifi card working on ubuntu, which eventually would have required installing custom firmware, and failing to get another USB wifi card to work, we took a shortcut in the whole process. For $20 we grabbed a small Buffalo N150 WCR-GN router and swapped out the NetGear device.

With so many moving parts in this project, adding another layer of network tweaking did delay us. First we moved to a private network in the 192.168.3.x space just in case someone ever plugged this into their actual network. The router is running DHCP so this little box could wreak network havoc in an office building. Then the configurations on the CuBox, PixelPusher, PixelController need updated to handle new IP addresses. Then we missed one, the E1.31 IP, where the pixel data would be broadcast, so the panels were dark for a while.

Why wifi? Open Sound Control. We first learned about OSC through the grid devices at monome.org. PixelController accepts OSC commands and iDevice interfaces have been created for the project. We started cleaning up a UI for iPhone 5 and finished it last night. To complete the circle, now we can join the pixel walls wifi network and control our the wall from an iPhone. This also means we can probably put together a simplified web-based UI (in Angular) that’s served by CuBox so anyone can join the network and control the pixels. That would be useful in meetings.


Here is a quick video from this afternoon of the pixel wall, controlled from an iPhone, running through some presets and color sets. You only see a 16x10 area of the actual 16x25. The “pixels” are the bottoms of Hint Water bottles and are almost 3 inches in diameter. The section shown is 4 feet wide.

What’s next?

The CuBox doesn’t have an analog audio input so we aren’t able to take advantage of the sound active features of PixelController. We ordered a small USB stereo interface we’ll try to run under ubuntu. We don’t need a high-quality mic, just enough to get some beats and hi-hats.