Two RGB sticks daisy chained together, total of 16″.
Archive Page 2
Here’s a quick demo of the RGB high brightness LED driver I’ve been developing. It uses the mbed to generate the PWM dimming signals to the driver, which is driving a 10W RGB LED I bought from DealExtreme (~10V drop on each color at 350mA).
Next time I’ll show using an Arduino to easily control three 700mA Luxeon Rebel RGB LED’s.
I’ve sent out the PCB order for my RGB stick!
I’ve put up a page on the right-hand side with detailed information and pricing for them. They’ll be available in approximately two to three weeks. Initially I only have a limited supply of parts for them, so please comment on the RGB stick page saying if you’re interested in them. This will help me decide how many LED’s to buy.
What would actually be useful product for people? I thought I’d jump onto the Arduino bandwagon and convert my triple 700mA LED driver into an Arduino shield, perfect for driving Luxeon Rebel LED’s and other high power LED’s. I had some extra space on the PCB, so I decided to squeeze in an ATTiny and let it do PWM dimming controlled by I2C. So you can stack a bunch of these shields and let them do all the work.
Of course, this adds quite a bit of BoM cost to the board (the entire bottom part of the board below), but it’s entirely optional. If you just want to drive one RGB LED, then there will be a cheaper version without the onboard microcontroller and associated circuitry populated. The PWM inputs are connected to Arduino pins 9-11, which can do hardware PWM. Here’s a preview while the board’s being manufactured…
Jumper to select between using VIN from the Arduino board or external power jack/terminal block.
More details, schematics, etc, will come shortly. I will publish details on customization for those of you who want to play around with these drivers.
Intended price point: under $50 for sure! Sparkfun must be making a killing off their board…
But what should I call it? RGBHBLEDuino doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue…
Also check out my other RGB LED project, the RGB stick
My board for the RGB HBLED driver using the HV9918 from Iteadstudio came in. I’m pretty pleased with the quality for the price (10 for $28 + shipping). Turnaround time was about two weeks.
Hopefully it’ll work once I populate it. I was testing the HV9918 on a protoboard but the chip kept dying on me inexplicably. We’ll see in the next update.
While waiting for my high brightness LED boards to come, I finally finished up the TLC5947-based board, which I ordered from Sparkfun’s BatchPCB service. I had made the LED holes too small so I had to surface mount solder each LED individually, which took forever.
It uses one TLC5947 per 24 channels, which does 12-bit PWM on each individual channel. All the MCU has to do is shift in 12 bits per channel, and send a latch signal. The PWM clock signal is generated by the TLC5947′s, which makes it a lot easier to use than the TLC5940′s. They can also be chained together. Here’s a video of it in action:
At full brightness it’ll draw about 2A of current. The TLC5947′s get pretty toasty when running them at 5V, but they work just fine at 4V and dissipate much less power.
I need to think of something cooler to display than just a cycling rainbow…
The HV9918 board design’s done! It’s a lot more cluttered than Sparkfun’s board but a lot of the components are optional. When the boards come I’ll determine if input caps for each driver are actually needed. Hopefully it’ll be good enough to drive the Luxeon Rebels I bought.
It was a quick design to test out the chips before finalizing. The boards only cost $28 + $3 shipping to make from iTead Studio. And I get ten of them:
Way cheaper than the American PCB prototyping companies.
I bought a few of these high brightness RGB LED’s from my favorite sketchy site, DealExtreme:
They’ll probably arrive in a few weeks or so. But in the meantime, how do you drive these 350mA LED’s? Sparkfun sells one:
However, they’re almost $50! That’s pretty expensive, considering the LEDs themselves only cost at most $20. DealExtreme sells inexpensive LED drivers but it’s awkward having to use three boards to dim each channel individually. So, I’ve decided to learn about DC/DC converters and make my own driver board. I decided to make it as flexible as possible: be able to drive LED’s in series up to 20V with a wide input range and deliver 700mA. Also, if I could make them low cost then I could potentially sell them too. I considered several driver IC chips and iterated through a design for each of them:
- National LM3402. This seemed like the best chip to use. Very powerful, and pin compatible with the LM3404 for higher currents. I spent a while designing for it but then realized that it operates in a strange mode where the output current isn’t set by one sense resistor, but by the output voltage, inductor, etc. Scrapped.
- ON Semi NCP3065. The next choice. Very cheap, but it was limited to a switching frequency of 125kHz. It was difficult getting it to work for a wide range of input/outputs and still be small. Scrapped
- Supertex HV9918. This chip was a little more obscure than the other ones (ie. not on Digikey), but it seemed perfect for the job. It could do high switching frequencies and appeared simple to use.
Since I basically have no experience with DC/DC converters, I decided to spend a weekend trying to simulate my design as much as possible. But there aren’t any SPICE models for any of these chips, and the design guide was especially sparse for the chip I decided to use in the end, the HV9918. So, I attempted to model the device myself, based on their block diagram and chip specs. I think I was mostly successful:
Blue shows the inductor current, and green shows the LED current. The 0.47uF output capacitor across the LED’s reduces the ripple by quite a lot, from 300mA to 30mA.
The HV9918 offers dimming from both a digital input and also an analog 0-2V input, which is great for relieving the microcontroller from doing the dimming. However, the dimming is highly non-linear below 0.1% duty cycle, as the inductor has to charge up, and the output capacitor has to discharge, so it is not possible to dim smoothly at very low light levels. Also, since this chip uses a high-side current sense, it is difficult to add an op-amp to alter the sense voltage as I had originally planned with the other chips.
When the parts finally come, I’ll see how well my model matches up with the chip itself. I’ll also be testing them at 700mA driving some Luxeon Rebel LED’s.
I’ll be designing my board for the Sparkfun driver mechanical layout so that it is compatible with their LED board/heatsink solution. If there’s demand for them, I’ll try to sell them. My intended price points are $20 for the three-driver version and $10 for the single driver version.
Hi! This is my fourier into the wonderfully exciting world of blogging. I’ll be describing my adventures in electronics prototyping and gadget making. I’m not expecting a wide audience here — I decided to create this mainly for me to keep a history of my projects as reference in the future. Perhaps others interested in creating gadgets will find it interesting too. (I’m really sorry for the pun by the way.)
My goal for this blog is to offer some commentary as I iterate through ideas and designs for my projects. One thing I noticed from trying to figure this stuff out on my own was that information was difficult to find and even harder to put to use. I intend on writing at least some of this to be helpful for a beginner, sharing some mistakes I’ve made and tips that I’ve found out. Hopefully some of the information will be useful someday to someone as a resource.
Note that I’m really just a wannabe EE. They don’t teach us this stuff in the ECE curriculum here at CMU, which is to be expected. However, there was an awesome student-taught course called Gadgetry 101, where they taught us the basics and let us create our own gadget on a PCB. Since it wasn’t an actual full-time class, we didn’t get to learn much in-depth. So, I only have a vague idea of what I’m doing. But there are lots of resources out there, and hopefully I’ve picked up on some good practices by now.
I’ll describe the gadget I made in that StuCo in a later post — it’s a (poorly designed) large RGB LED display. I don’t think the teachers liked me very much for having no idea what I wanted to do and just creating a silly LED array; I’ve heard that they have since discouraged others from doing it. However, I do credit that class for inspiring me to learn more about electronics, more so than the ECE program here has encouraged (although they are trying!)
Anyways, I’ll start first with my current project in my next post. Hint: it’s yet another RGB LED display; I’m not very original.