Fish Guts - Wearables

Second Prototype of our WiFi Wearables
Second Prototype of our WiFi Wearables

This year we want to build light up blinky clothes that automatically synchronize their colors and blink patterns with Discofish when the user is in range of the fish.

The goal is to design a simple and low cost wireless receiver and LED controller so that camp members can build the example design into their own outfits or toys, connect up the LEDs and have them instantly start blinking along with the fish! We might also build a few jackets or vests just to prove our design and give them out to campmates. We're still in the initial design phase.

So how does it work?

The image at the top of the page shows an early prototype that's receiving color information from the laptop behind it over UDP Wi-Fi. For now, the transmitter is just sending RED, GREEN, RED, GREEN, etc. but in the future that will be the color stream from the fish scales visualizer software. The Feather Huzzah board is jamming along, changing its test LED back and forth between red and green. Success! This calls for a beer.

So here's where Fish Guts get icky for some. The fish has an existing computer system that takes the music audio as an input, runs that through a standard visualizer and generates a pixelated video output that's mapped to the scale lights. An existing Wi-Fi access point allows us to use our smartphones to change the colors of the fish scales or scroll words across the scales, as if they are a giant computer display (which they are).

Dmitry has built a small program that connects to the scale pattern computer and transmits color information over UDP. He chose UDP over TCP/IP because UDP doesn't require handshaking and allows for packet loss. On the playa, there might be packet loss. Just maybe.

Our prototype receiver is an Adafruit Feather Huzzah, which is a $10 Wi-Fi/microprocessor board that uses the ESP8266 Wi-Fi module and has more than enough GPIO to run lighting control. One challenge is that the Feather Huzzah operates at 3.3V and is not 5V tollerant, so some level conversion is required to communicate with 5V LED lights, like the 60LEDs/m NeoPixel strips.

Open source software coming soon. I hope.

Source Code

Posted 2016/03/09, 6:00PM

by Keg

Article summary:

The Fish Guts series will detail the technical workings of one of the Discofish subsystems. Several possible topics include:

  • Autonomous Driving Capability
  • Sound System
  • Scales and Searchlight
  • Flamethrower
  • Vehicle Awareness or, "How I learned to quit worrying about whatever I just ran over and learned to get on with my life"
  • On-board Draft Beer
  • Fabric and Creative Design
  • ???