Programming the ESP-01 to control RGB strips via MQTT

Now that I have shown you two different hardware setups for the RGB strips, it is time to talk about the chip firmware and software.

I have chosen to use NodeMCU which uses Lua as the programming language. The good news is that all the functions you need are already there. As a result, even someone like me who doesn’t know Lua can easily write it.

And, thanks to a number of online blogs detailing what is going on, it is mostly copypasting existing code. Mostly this is adapted from the blog of openhardware.co.za. There were a few things unclear, but I suggest looking at it as he has much more verbose documentation.

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Controlling a RGB strip controller.

You can easily find a 5 m RGB LED strip and controller for under $15 on amazon. The controllers have an IR remote and receiver that lets you select (and in more recent versions, program) a number of different lighting options. They are fairly cool, but IR remotes require line of sight and just aren’t as cool as using your phone/tablet/computer.

A simple injection molded case with a few wires sticking out.

A simple injection molded case with a few wires sticking out.

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ESP-01 NFET Board for RGB strips

The ESP8266-01 is a cheap (~$2) WiFi enabled multiprocessor with enough GPIO pins to control three FETs. There are a few tutorials on setting them up that I used, and they are listed at the bottom. I wanted to make a cheap board for controlling RGB LED STRIPS. The components are shown below, and the final result is at the end of this post.

Items in the kit, sans SMD components.

Items in the kit, sans SMD components.

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Building a universal power delivery board for the UNO. Part 1: darlington array

The UNO has some great advantages for people starting out and playing around, but the 5v/40ma output power limit can be a bit limiting without additional circuitry. While the UNO is not intended to drive anything directly, it kind of defeats the purpose if you have to hunt through and source a bunch of stuff to attach to do anything. As a result, there are a number of boards available. However, I wanted to build a board for the uno that had a lot of power control options, which didn’t seem to exist. The first thing I wanted to put on was a Darlington array.

Relevant portions of the board for the Darlington array shown highlighted.

Relevant portions of the board for the darlington array shown highlighted.

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Liquid Ion work pt. 1 The frame

I have been doing some work creating CAD models of a friend of mine’s startup product. I haven’t been able to share any of my work before now because it belongs to him, but he has given me the OK now. I am actually really proud of some of the work I did on this. Some of my drafts are not so great, but I had never modeled an existing product and I learned a lot.

600-slide-composite

This exploded view actually didn’t turn out that badly.

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Work Desk PSU Pt1

Part of my electronics work desk project includes making a power supply setup. I ordered some cheap parts from china to set it up. It puts out 3.3V, 5V, 12V, and a variable voltage.

The green display reads the voltage going into the green plug, or alternatively checks the output voltage of the 3.3, 5, and 12V rails. (More on that in the second part.) The blue display gives the blue (variable) voltage, and  the center display gives you the volts and amps going to/through the two plugs on the left. The two switches control the power supply and accessories, although only on is inserted right now.

Wood is cheap and good for checking fits and sizing.

Wood is cheap and good for checking fits and sizing.

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Fun with GIMP

I’m a big fan of GIMP and Inkscape. I like the knowledge that they will always be there and that if the need arises, I can modify them. I have been interested in writing scrips, and also in generating textures. Below is an end result of a granite texture I generated using gimp and G’MIC.

I know you can't see it, but this is a really nice render of something that looks like granite.

Why use a camera when you can get a similar result with a computer and a 5 hours of free time!

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