Know Processing? Please help us with Maker Faire!

Only ten days to Maker Faire as I am writing this! That's why I need your help. Well...I need your help if you like hacking around in Processing, making neat looking graphical effects.

Our major project for Maker Faire this year is an overhead matrix of Chinese lanterns, lit by new versions of our Satellite Modules and a new controller. There will be 128 lanterns laid out in a 16x8 matrix, inside a 20x10 foot canopy. The lanterns will react to music and we'll let the audience select visualizations and hopefully interact in other ways. It's going to look awesome!

However, we're really busy just building the thing. I've gotten the LED code working well, and have tested up to 25 frames per second streaming pixel colors from Processing to an Arduino to control everything, but coming up with neat effects takes more time than we have. Here's one I have made so far:

Therefore...I'm hoping that a few helpful Processing dabblers could download my existing code and try making some new effects. I've wrapped it all up in a matrix simulator as you can see in the Youtube video. Simply draw the effect in the upper 320x160 area, and it will be pixelized in the bottom half. The pixelized area is what will be sent to the LEDs, so I need effects that look good in the pixel area too. I have FFT and beat detection all set up, you just need to hook your ideas into that. Stuff with bright colors, simple shapes, and computationally forgiving will work best. Easy!

Download Processing 1.5:
Download macetrix_sim code:

Once you have some neat effects working, just send the functions you created and any new files you added to . Try to send by May 19th...earlier is better. Make sure to add a comment crediting yourself! I'll figure out how to integrate everything. Then I'll release the full application, and LEDs will be on display at Maker Faire Bay Area on May 21st and 22nd. Stop by to admire your coding handiwork if you're in the area! We'll make sure to take video and post it later.


  • Rodolphe P has sent in a nice rotozoom effect
  • Dean C submitted some bold bouncing squares and zooming hallway effects
  • Marc-Andre F contributed a fire effect and an orbiting suns effect
  • Charlie M sent expanding bubbles, a spectrum analyzer, and a spectrograph

Submitted by Garrett on Wed, 05/11/2011 - 18:07.

Cool, I'll def. contribute a

Cool, I'll def. contribute a few animations to this!

Looking forward to it,

Looking forward to it, thanks!

What's this about a new

What's this about a new Satellite?

New OctoBar which is like 8

New OctoBar which is like 8 ShiftBars together, and a new Satellite with matching plug so you can use standard voice telephone modular cables to hook the LEDs to the OctoBar. Way easier than screw terminals when you have a lot to wire up.

Submitted. This project

Submitted. This project sounds amazing. I'd love to hear more about the setup.

Thanks, your animations will

Thanks, your animations will definitely be running at Maker Faire next week. I'll be sure to post all the hardware information and the final integrated code. Maybe someone can take it off my hands and begin a real open-source matrix control project.

Garret! How does this hook

Garret! How does this hook into the arduino?

Saw your setup at Maker

Saw your setup at Maker Faire - Very cool effect! I noticed that a lot of people took advantage of the "chill space" to take a breather from the rest of the chaos.

I saw a hand-written rough schematic and cost estimate and would love to see a more detailed writeup here on the blog. I did take some pics and videos of the ceiling and will let you know when I get them up on Flickr.

hey garret i just want to

hey garret

i just want to let you know, that i plan to release my matrix control project as opensource project. its pretty advanced (generators, effects, mixer, fader, layouts..) and currently uses pure data as primary gui...

I let you know when its released


hey garret I released my

hey garret

I released my software on github, its called PixelController:

it supports lpd6803 devices and rainbowduinos, but it shouln'd be hard to add new devices.


Hey, considering the fact

Hey, considering the fact that this post was written a long before, I suppose that your project has completed successfully. Can you share a link to the said Maker Faire project? Thank you so much. By the way, it look splendid in the video!
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