Super Bowl Halftime LED Show

Reposted from Hackerspace member Liz’s blog

At halftime during this year’s Super Bowl, Daniel chatted me to ask if I was watching it because there was quite an LED show going on.

If you haven’t seen it:

Here is a summary of what I could dig up on the technology and some of my personal opinions about the visual aspects of the show.

How they did it

  • almost 400 of the backup dancers wore LED-equipped costumes
  • the costumes were made of durable silver tricot foil by a dance/costume company called Just for Kix in Baxter, MN
  • each dancer’s costume was outfitted with 300 LED RGB strip lights supplied by Creative Lighting Solutions, LLC in Cleveland, OH… so, over 100,000 LEDs just in the dancers’ costumes
  • velcro was used to affix the LED strips
  • the LEDs on the dancers were set up to produce 3 colors only: red, green or white
  • power was from a 12 volt battery pack with belt controller
  • the dancers manually controlled their lights
  • the cube-heads and the Black Eyed Peas costumes’ electronics were made by Engineering Solutions, Inc in Lehi, UT, under some direction by Creative Lighting Solutions

My opinions

  • Likes:
    • how the combination of the LED strips and the type of fabric in the costumes made the dancers’ entire bodies glow
    • the surrealistic feel when the dancers formed moving arrows
    • the cube-head dancers looked really funky – I think the combination of costumes, dancing and music were more than the sum of the parts there
  • I suppose one could argue that the lights shouldn’t eclipse the singers, but in general I thought the Black Eyed Peas’ costumes could have had some more imagination as far as the LED enhancement goes – color, patterns, patterns in motion, etc. I think there is great opportunity to use all 4 dimensions and color with this fashion / lights / technology mixture.
  • Choreography of the dancers forming hearts and arrows: why not combine these and have the red hearts only at first, then have one-person wide white arrows pierce the hearts… or, make the hearts appear to beat in time to the music (maybe they were supposed to look like they were beating but it looked more like swaying to me).

All in all I thought it was great to see so much wearable tech in the Super Bowl.

More info

Printer Hacking

Reposted from Hackerspace member Ross’s blog

So the other day I was walking home from school and as I was walking by the dumpster I saw an old printer in there. I don’t know why someone was throwing it away but I didn’t care as I had more nefarious plans for it than simply spraying tree skin with black blood. For a long time I’ve been reading about electronics, about hardware hackers and I thought it was time for some hacking of my own. As someone who doesn’t have that much spare cash to throw at buying the components I want I’ve been seriously interested in what other people are throwing away and how I can use it. To that end this printer became my first victim.

Tearing off the plastic case didn’t take too much and it exposed the electronics underneath.

The control board has lots of interesting pieces that I can salvage

Finally I pulled out what I wanted

From just this old printer I pulled out two controller boards of questionable value but fun to see how the circuits workd and two prizes, a stepper motor and two DC motors. Not a bad haul since buying just those motors could have cost up to 30 bucks separately (new of course). After I pulled this stuff out and threw away the rest I realized that the next time I do this I am going to have even more fun trying to build a CNC using the actual physical hardware thought the steppers are usually too weak but it should be fun.