Today the color is…

Orange!! 😉

 

Well, it could just as well have been any other color of the 256*256*256 colors these RGB LEDs can produce, but since today is Koninginnedag, Orange was the most appropriate color I could think of for today.

The last 2 days I started with putting these RGB LEDs in the ground, under the gazebo.

Removing the stones to get the 20 meters of cable under the terrace, grit around the poles and putting everything back in place took me 2 days and I’m still not completely done yet; I think I need another afternoon for the ‘finishing touch’.

 

 

Just for fun I made a small beginning with controlling these LEDs from my system by using scenarios or lighting sequences; here’s what the “random” color scenario looks like:

 

I’m also going to use a remote for these RGB LEDs; I still have an old 433 MHz remote with 8 buttons that can be re-used to select the different scenarios. This remote will be attached to one of the poles of the gazebo so we won’t need to go inside to change the lighting.

With the Arduino acting as web-interface to the hardware, my domotica system and this remote I think we can really enjoy these RGB LEDs during those many upcoming long, hot summer nights!

Success and failure

Today I continued with my “RGB LEDs for the gazebo” job; what would those 6 LED spotlights bring, in terms of light? How would it look? Well, here some images:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wanted to see the result before I would start digging holes, laying cables under the pavement etcetera. Based on what I saw after sunset, the conclusion can only be: we have a Go! It’s exactly what I had in mind; which is a big relief actually, cause those 6 LED spotlights were quite an investment. But the result is wonderful, these LED spotlights light up the gazebo just the way I want.

I did have a big issue with controlling those LEDs though.. All the tests I did in my office with the LEDs on the desk next to me never failed. But today, with the LEDs, DMX decoder, Arduino+Ethernet shield+DMX shield outside it didn’t work anymore!? Everything was set up and ready to go, but I couldn’t even ping my Arduino anymore!

My first thought was that the new CAT5 cable of 20m length was broken, or the RJ45 connectors didn’t make good contact; but this was not the case, the cable was OK. Maybe it was the new Gigabit switch I received 2 days ago which hadn’t been used until now? Nope. What is this??

I took the Arduino back to the office, connected it to my PC for power and to the switch. And it worked again, just like it always did… although I did see the LEDs on the Ethernet Shield behave differently. Well, I won’t go into all the details, but eventually I found out that it was the USB connection that made the difference! Without a USB connection, I had to push the reset button on the Ethernet shield to make the shield work. With USB, the Ethernet shield worked immediately. Go figure..

What has USB got to do with a (dis)functioning Ethernet shield?? A lot, so it seems. What is this, a hidden feature? By design? I must have missed the addendum to the manual that says “This shield will only function with your Arduino USB port connected”… After I knew what was causing this problem, it didn’t take long before I found a solution – phew, this issue could have been a real party pooper! I haven’t tried the workaround yet, but I will. Very soon, as in tomorrow first thing!

Here you see me testing some colors, sitting behind my laptop under the gazebo:

 

LED lighting for our gazebo

GazeboDespite all the Domotica stuff going on every day, I was able to find the time to build a gazebo in our garden this summer. I finished this gazebo in late June. Well, not quite; I still have to take care of the lighting. And somehow, everything I build or do in my spare time just has to have a Domotica touch 🙂 This time, it’s the lighting. I could have chosen the easy way and just put a big bright light bulb in the middle for when it gets too dark outside, but that’s too ugly, easy and no fun at all.

So I contacted Marco Versluis of Mood LedLight and he offered to come over and have a look at the gazebo and discuss some options for some nice and good lighting. Although I’m not the type of guy who decorates the entire home inside and outside with flashing lights at Christmas time, I do like to have nice lighting in the garden during the time that it’s dark and we’re still downstairs; an example of this is a previous garden lighting project.

This time we chose to do the lighting with 6 RGB LED spotlights.RGB LED spotlight

At each of the 6 poles of the gazebo there will be a RGB LED spotlight which will light the pole and the inside of the roof. That should be sufficient to give good lighting while sitting under the gazebo on warm nights as well as a nice view from the living room when we’re inside.

OK.. I admit it, I just couldn’t resist buying a DMX decoder for those 6 RGB LED spotlights – so I can produce 256 x 256 x 256 colors, who wouldn’t want that in his back yard? 😉 And of course, these LED spotlights need to be controlled from my Domotica system, otherwise it wouldn’t be much fun, right?

I’m not worried about accomplishing this. I found a Arduino DMX shield that should take care of the DMX encoding. And since it’s an Arduino shield and I have some unused Arduinos here, this will be plug & play, hardware-wise. Developing a sketch to control it all from my domotica system shouldn’t be that hard either.

No, the thing that I’m thinking about most of the time is: what color should these LED spotlights produce? Just pick a color I (ehh, we) like? Neh, too easy. And I certainly don’t like some predictable color scenario that repeats itself every x minutes. Yuck!

Come on, my Domotica system has almost 900 device values, why can’t I create some RGB values out of all that constantly changing data and produce a real geeky lighting? (ah, that reminds me: I need a motion sensor for the gazebo and/or a button to override the geek-lighting scheme with something that’s more moderate and acceptable for non-geeks … 🙂

So basically, I’m looking for “something” that should produce a smooth changing, unpredictable RGB value based on device values originating from our house… There’s enough to choose from I guess… like using door/window open/closed status as bits for one of the 3 RGB bytes, or on/off statuses,  motion detection, total power usage for the R value, water usage for the B value…  well, I’m still thinking what to choose – suggestions are welcome!