The LED wheel redesign is looking awesome (see the previous post for specifics on the new design). I’m very happy with the new grooved method. Be sure to check out the video clips below the article to see it in action.
We did the first test run this week. It was amazing! We couldn’t get into a darkened room for the test unfortunately, but even in a well lit environment you can see the wheel shining brightly.
Avi Pryntz-Nadworny performed the test drive. Beforehand, I couldn’t be totally sure whether the grooves were going to affect the feel or performance of the wheel. Avi says he didn’t think the grooves made any noticeable difference in the handling of the wheel. That’s one win 🙂
I’m really happy with how everything turned out, although I do have several goals for immediate improvement:
1) One of the LED solder joints broke during the test run. I had been considering filling the LED tracks with epoxy to protect the LEDs from the PVC skin rubbing against and damaging them. And now I will.
2) On this wheel the grooves are the full length of the the tubing, so the ends of the grooves are open if you’re looking into the end of a wheels section. I’m going to mill the grooves a little shorter than the length of each tube to leave a protective lip of metal enclosing the LEDs/solder joints from the end of the tubing. I’ll post pics of that in the next week.
3) Battery Holder: The current battery pack holds only one battery, which lasts about a half hour with the patterns I’ve been running. I want to get well over an hour so that the wheel can be powered on and off to use for several runs between swapping batteries. Two or three batteries would be more than enough. The hurdle here is more batteries=more wires since the cells are run in parallel. More wires are hard to fit into the wheel! I may eventually put the cells in series for a higher voltage and use a regulator to supply a constant 5.5 or so volts. This will probably add even more brightness.
4) Wiring and connectors: This particular prototype requires a lot of snipping and soldering to get the wire harness out completely. I’d like to redo the LEDs and wiring harness so that everything is easily removable in case of damage, or to do an upgrade. The connectors I’m using work well, but I don’t like that the ends hang out when the wheel is disassembled. Sometimes the plugs can get caught inside the tube ends on disassembly, which I worry could also cause damage. I’m dreaming up a way of making integrated connectors that just plug themselves in when the wheel sections are assembled. The connector thing might take a bit longer to develop than these other items.
5) Switches: There are currently 2 power switches on the wheel; one to each side of the battery going to each end of the power bus. The power bus loops around the entire wheel, connected to the battery on both ends in order to even out the brightness of the LEDs throughout the circuit. I’d like to simplify that to a single switch, though that would mean running even more wires past the battery pack in an already tight space. But I’m pretty sure it’ll be doable.
Those are the main things for now. There is a much longer list of things for a bit down the road, but I’ll feel really solid getting some of these improvements made for now. I’m building another LED wheel with many of these improvements in the next week or so. Check back for updates on that 🙂
Some video clips from a quick test run on the grooved LED wheel design yesterday. Lights looked amazing, even during the daytime. Unfortunately we weren't able to get a dark room for this run, but you can see it still shines pretty bright in a well lit environment.The LED strips did shift a bit during the run, causing a data signal loss. I'll be injecting epoxy into the LED tracks to fix that.Should be ready for another run in about a week.Big thanks to Avi Pryntz-Nadworny – Circus Artist for being my test pilot!#cyrwheel#ledcyrwheel#cyrcraft#circus#arduino#led#maker#prototyping
Posted by Jesse Hughson on Thursday, 4 February 2016