Chromatron is an open source Wifi pixel controller designed to make LED pixel projects easy and fun.
Hi, I’m Jeremy! I’ve designed a toolkit for making art with LED pixel strips, and I’d like to share it with you! Chromatron takes custom designed hardware and feature-packed firmware, sprinkles it with some Python, and serves up a delicious new platform to help you transform your world into a psychedelic dreamscape.
What can you do with it?
Make art with LEDs! At least, that’s what I’m using it for. Here’s some stuff I’ve made with Chromatron:
This is one of my favorites:
Most of my apartment’s lighting is powered by Chromatron as well:
Even my coffee table, because why not?
Why use Chromatron?
Chromatron is packed with features that make LED projects awesome:
– Control up to 300 pixels per Chromatron
– Stream pixel data over Wi-Fi with the Python API
– Run graphics code directly on hardware with the built in FX scripting engine
– Take control with the command line interface: built in device discovery, dimmer controls, pixel setup, and more
– Easy LED wiring via screw terminals
– Open source: I’m releasing everything after we hit our funding goal!
How do you use it?
There’s two main ways: remote control with Python, or local control with FX Script.
Remote Streaming over Wi-Fi
You can stream raw RGB data over Wi-Fi with the Python module. It handles all of the network details, so you don’t need to worry about IP addresses or network ports.
You can also use HSV as well, if that’s your preference. I also plan on implementing Art-Net while the hardware build is ongoing. (I haven’t yet because I don’t personally use it.)
The Python library also gives you an easy interface into device commands, such as loading FX scripts, changing dimmer settings, discovering devices, loading firmware updates, etc. The Python code is what powers the command line interface.
Local Control with FX Script
FX Script is a language based on a simplified Python syntax designed specifically for making LED pixel graphics. It runs directly on Chromatron hardware, so you don’t need to use C or C++. You can set up the compiler to run automatically when you save your script and have it reload your Chromatrons instantly. The ability to get instant feedback is easily 90% of the reason I created FX Script.
Once you’ve loaded your FX program, you don’t need a Wifi connection to run it. It will just start up automatically every time you power on your project. You only need Wi-Fi if you want to change something.
Here’s a quick tour of what it’s like to use Chromatron:
Why am I making this?
I’m a lifelong maker and engineer, and on top of that, I really love making things with LEDs in them. I’ve spent enough time doing LED projects that I feel like I have a good idea of specific challenges to getting things done. Things like accidentally wiring the LED strip wrong and having to unsolder it. Having to recompile your code and then take your project apart to change the LED effects. Needing extra hardware to make LED strips work with anything that’s not a 5V system (which is almost everything these days). Etc. None of these things are that terrible if you’re only doing one project, but if you do a dozen, it’s nice to have better tools. Actually, it’s always nice to have better tools, provided they exist 😉
Read More: Chromatron – Wifi Pixel Controller