Blinkenlights Stereoscope (recorded by the 25C3).
Behind the scenes of the new light installation
Blinkenlights Stereoscope is the new light installation of Project Blinkenlights, a group that originated form the Chaos Computer Club in 2001. Stereoscope targeted the City Hall in Toronto, Canada and was the biggest and most interactive installation of the group so far. The talk provides insight into how it worked and what technology had been developed to make it all happen.
The Stereoscope project marked a new order of magnitude for the project as the 960 windows and two individual towers of the City Hall in Toronto mean a significant increase in size and complexity compared to the last installation at Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. Also the logistics involved in producing the necessary material, shipping it to Canada and have it set up in around two weeks asked for new solutions.
One of the biggest obstacles in quick delivery has been the extensive cabling that is required to control each lamp individually. Although professional light equipment is in widespread use solving a few of these problems, that equipment is very expensive to rent or buy and still does not solve all problems including tons of wires. So the project decided that it's now time for a wireless solution.
Based on the OpenBeacon electronics design, the group developed a new wireless dimmer that can be communicated with over the 2.4 GHz frequency range. Each dimmer controls a single lamp, automatically adjusting to 120V or 240V power source and allowing for displaying up to 16 different shades of light. The whole system was hooked up to a wired backbone with wireless distribution units called Wireless Matrix Control Units (WMCU) that talk to the lamps on one side and listen to a central server on the other.