Peel Street Lantern

What is the Peel Street Lantern?
The Peel Street Lantern is the first group project by Hackerspace Adelaide. The idea is based on the $2 million Rundle Lantern, which is a large canvas of LED lights programmable by computer. Our version will be almost identical in resolution, but instead of being locked down by the council, ours will be completely open for anyone to create animations, send messages to it, or even interact with it in real time via either a mobile phone browser or the sensors attached to the lantern.

Why make it?
We were looking for a project that would be suitable for a group to build collaboratively, and we also like pretty lights. So the idea of creating a huge LED Matrix which could be soldered in 8×8 blocks fit quite well.

Parts we’re using.
During our fortnightly hack sessions quite a few of us use Arduino micro-controllers, so we thought we’d design around these as the controllers for the project. Our rough parts list so far includes:

  • Arduino controllers (possibly rainbowduinos)
  • TLC5940 LED drivers
  • 74HC595 shift registers
  • 1,024 RGB LEDs for the display
  • 156 metres of Enameled wire to connect the LEDs & form the structure
  • Lots and lots of solder
  • An xbox Kinect (openkinect) to detect physical interaction*
  • A box running Ubuntu and a web server for live interaction

We’ll update this list as the project unfolds, but for now that’s the basic idea.

For more technical details, see our wiki.

Who’s working on it?
So far we have a group of about 12 Hackerspace regulars who have all contributed to the project. The first stage soldering half of the panels was completed at our inaugural 12-hour hackathon.

When will it be finished?
We’re aiming to finish construction and programming for the launch of the Format Festival, February 12th 2011. Format is an artist run DIY (do it yourself) festival and exhibition space at 15 Peel Street in Adelaide. We run our fortnightly hack sessions out of the Format basement, so thought it would be fitting that we build the lantern for the front of the Format building.

Photo gallery
Some photos of the progress so far.

* Kinect interaction will be added after the lantern is finished.. possibly won’t be completed in time for the launch at the Format Festival.

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5 Responses to Peel Street Lantern

  1. Stan says:

    Holy crap this is cool. Neat website too!

  2. Frank Stillitano says:

    Hey if you guys need some content for this baby, let me know. I created 10 animations for the Rundle Lantern and I don’t reckon they have ever shown them!

    • sighmon says:

      Hi Frank, we’re definitely keen! The plan is to have some clips in a playlist that’ll be shown when people aren’t interacting directly with it, so your content would be great. I’ll send you an email in a sec. Cheers, Si.

  3. fee says:

    give a man $2million and he stops you doing anything and, asks for more money.
    give a collaborative group of hackers absolutely nothing, and they find something supercool to play with, and invite everyone else to come have a go. for free.
    great work guys!

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