Wiring and Coding LEDs

Hello there!

I am doing some notetaking on how to wire and code LEDs. I’m reading a ton of chiefdelphi posts on it but I was wondering if there are any general tips y’all can share with me?

I guess before I would type a response, are you looking for LEDs controlled and wired through the REV Blinkin driver, the roboRIO directly or through a co-processor (Arduino, rPi etc)

Edit: I can speak more to the REV Blinkin Driver and roboRIO methods since our team experimented with both and implemented our first LED system this year.

We’ve tried a few combo’s over the years. The permutation I like the best is Neopixel’s driven by an Arduino, and the RIO sending info about “what pattern to display” over a PWM line.

I2C/SPI work as well, but can take more work to get functional.

Offloading the “graphics” processing from the embedded controller seems like a very good architectural decision, and lets us push the Arduino to have nice smooth high-framerate patterns.

Arduino is a great skill for students to learn, and gives folks a bit more of a rounded experience.

Try to plan strip locations into the design up front, but keep them low priority. Don’t hold up any other development on functional robot things for LED’s.

Use high-count-per-unit-length led strips if you can afford them. They look so much better from a distance. Along the same lines, definitely plan to have a beefy separate 12v-5V regulator to power the strips (Don’t use the VRM if you can avoid it).

I love these diffusers both for protecting the strips, and overall aesthetics.

Choose patterns and designs which reflect your team’s branding. Motion is good for visual interest. Make patterns run fast, smooth, and controlled. It’ll (hopefully) instill subtle ideas in the minds of people scouting your bot.

Use changes in pattern to help communicate things to the driveteam - “ball acquired”, “vision locked”, “I’m sorry dave, I can’t do that”, etc. But don’t communicate things like “I’m going to line up to shoot now!” - that will quickly become a beacon for other teams to know “Come defend me!”

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