New Year’s Eve Tree

Just fooling around with cheesy transitions in the video editing program.  At any rate, the New Year’s Eve guests thought the tree was fun, even though (especially since?) the patterns displayed weren’t as subdued as what played throughout the Christmas season.

On a happy note, the waterproof E16 chassis withstood a week of nearly continuous rain, snow, warm and freezing weather between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Thanks, everyone, for your support and comments throughout the year.  It’s been a wild ride for sure.

To be informed when content on this page is added, or to receive super-secret email sales announcements, just enter your name and email address on the top right corner of the page.

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree!

Late last night my amazing wife returned from delivering Christmas goodies to the neighbors.  She held out the five fingers on her right hand and asked, “Do you know what this is?”

Instinctively, I flinched, expecting a heart-stopping, up-close-and-personal demonstration of how cold her hands actually were.  This has happened before.

“That’s how many of the neighbors complained that you don’t have any lights up this year.”

Through an ironic and frustrating turn of events, I’d been too busy to hang or program anything for Christmas 2010.

Fortunately, today’s schedule was totally open.  I found enough inventory in the workshop (an E16 ethernet bridge + 16 strings) to assemble a nifty little triangle tree.  It measures 12′ tall and 11′ wide at the base.

After letting it run for a few hours, I checked the control statistics (the E16 contains an internal webserver which allows for easy field configuration and feedback) and was pleased to see that one point one million Art-Net packets had been successfully received and processed for each of the E16’s four universes.


Stills (click to enlarge):


(Note that YouTube was supposed to swap out the regular audio for a bouncing happy Christmas track.  But I don’t think it’s working for all playback locations.  Do you hear music or just road noise?)

More Video

Mrpackethead presents 84 strings * 42 pixels = 3,528 RGB nodes (10,584 DMX-over-ArtNet channels), synchronized and ready for a summer (down under!) yard party.

Madrix software runs on a quad core 3.4 Ghz Windows 7 beast of a computer.

Video captured with a Canon EOS 7D & 10-22mm zoom lens.

Video clip #2

2010 RGB Nodes – Video Clip Gallery

A collection of clips collected from around the Internet.

mrpackethead’s Comet Star is 5 meters (16 feet) tall and 2.5 meters wide.  Each tube uses 48 DMX channels to control 16 nodes inside a translucent waterproof enclosure.

24 strings (folded in half) makes a 48 x 21 grid of light.  Driven by Art-Net and a pair of E16 controllers.

Finally, the guys over at (makers of some cool software which connects to an ENTTEC Pro USB dongle) sent over this demo clip:

If you’ve done something neat with your controllers and nodes, feel free to send over a link to photos, video clips and project information.

Testing and Shipping

An enormous stack of 8-bit RGB LED Nodes

Though we’ve asked the factory to thoroughly test each string of RGB nodes before shipping them to us, I double-check that each color in each node works properly in our shop before sending them out to our end customers.

In this case, 185 strings of 42 nodes were tested today.

For them to be tested simultaneously (they weren’t, but just for fun…) the following calculations are required:

  • 185 strings x 42 nodes / string = 7,770 nodes
  • 7,770 nodes * 3 channels / node = 23,310 control channels
  • 23,310 control channels / 512 channels per universe = 45.5 DMX universes
  • 23,310 control channels * 21 mA per channel = 489.51 Amps at 5.0V DC

E16 Art-Net Controller, Massive Node Shipment & More

First – and finally! – there’s an enormous batch of node strings en route to our shop.  The factory ended up being about 10 days late with the delivery, but we’re super excited.  This shipment contains 300+ strings of 42 nodes.  About 2/3 are spoken for already, and the factory is making several hundred more strings in addition.

If you’ve placed an order in the past few weeks, this is the shipment we’re waiting for.

225 pounds worth.

Next, a quick preview of the soon-to-be-released E16 Ethernet Node Controller.

E16 Ethernet Node Controller
  • Receives Art-Net 2.0 and (coming soon) E1.31 control data.
  • Input frame rate of up to 44 Hz
  • Drives 16 strings of 42 nodes, using between 1 and 4 universes of data
  • Simple web-based configuration wizard.  Node count, universe number, string start address and more can be set on a per-string basis.
  • Matching 5V / 50A power supply takes up less counter space (!) than the E16 controller itself.
  • Fuse per output for sleep-at-night safety.
  • Built-in test patterns for confirming wiring & string assignments, no ethernet connection required.

Below are a couple screen shots taken from the web-based configurator.

I’ve been playing with an early prototype E16 controller for the past few days and can’t stop smiling.  It’s amazing.

More soon!


RGB Star and Rock Concert Video Clips

First clip comes from mrpackethead in New Zealand, who used attached 60 1-meter RGB tubes to a section of motorized truss.  These tubes are available for hire, by the way.

The track is called “Everybody” by PlanetShakers.. They were actually doing that song, but the audio on my camera was terrible, so I used the original.

It’s downloadable from iTunes, that’s where I got it from.


Second clips is a 47.5″ star with 136 RGB nodes attached.  Video shot in here in our shop.

For the curious, this is an early prototype of a system which will be distributed by Animated Lighting.  Check with them for pricing, availability and more details.

P.S.   Video questions:  This was shot with a Nikon point & shoot camera, tripod mounted, autofocus off.  The camera was perfectly still during recording.  But, the captured image hops all over the place.  No idea why, and it drives me crazy.

It only seems to occur in high-contrast video clips.  Daylight shooting works as expected.

Camera glitch?  Anyone have an idea?

Coming Very Soon: Open Source Controller

Just a quick note before the weekend…  On Monday, August 9, we’ll publish a whole batch of documents, including:

  • Source code for driving last year’s 5 bit nodes and this year’s 8 bit nodes (the control protocol is quite different) based on DMX input.
  • Schematics for a simple 4-string driver system.
  • Eagle & gerber files for a known-good PCB layout.
  • PCBs from the shop shelf – at least 50 pieces – will be available for a nominal fee.

All information will be released under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial license.

Stay tuned!

RGB Nodes & Controllers: Now Available for Pre-Order

We’re thrilled to announce that 8-bit DMX-driven RGB nodes and controllers are now available for pre-order.

Click here for more detail.


(Note also that mrpackethead is working on some amazing demo videos to post this weekend.  You’ll see video, graphics & text on a grid of nodes, plus a bunch of other neat effects.)

Enter your name and email address in the top right corner of this page for instant updates when new content is added.