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Software Development: Linux (kernel) development, middleware and networking, Android, embedded systems
Artistic Light Design for events: draught, elaboration, planning, controller programming, live operator

LED-Curtain (DMX/ArtNET-WS2812B-Controller)

In search of a favorable possibility to produce a LED curtain, I finally have found the essential module: A LED stripe whose RGB-LEDs are individually adressable. The LED modules use are of the type WS2812B. 

I found also a distributor for the WS2812B modules itself. They can be soldered directly onto breakout circuit boards:

(Picture: 4 x WS2812B RGB-LED on production stripe; costs: 0,23 Euro per piece)

For a first prototype I assembled two of the WS2812B modules onto one breakout board and connected this to a flat ribbon cable. These two modules together emit light with 8 Lumen as one pixel. 


Connected to the controller and controlled by ArtNET sent from a tablet computer it looks like this:

A small controller (Arduino) together with two Arduino shields (Ethernet and DMX) and my software is able to control every single WS2812B LED in one LED-stripe by processing ArtNET or DMX input.

To be able to put the controller into a 19 inch rackmount case which only occupies one height unit, I designed a small motherboard using the Fritzing software and service for the three Arduino boards to be mounted side by side. This module is able to control 8 different LED stripes. The data output is decoupled from the data output of the processor by a driver unit:

Even this configuration can be quite interesting for many light designers. But I would still like to go on: I would like to produce a curtain of 144 or even 288 LEDs. Which can be controlled directly by the HOG mixing desk using pixel map layers. The list of materials is ready, the costs are calculated and the concept is written. Now I wait for a suitable opportunity to realise this project.

During the development of the LED controller for the curtain (or a LED stripe) I asked myself the question: How can I configure the controller if it is used on the stage? And there I had this idea: Why not using some DMX values as configuration values for the controller? The LEDs of the stripe (or the curtain) can be used as a display for the current configuration. This would eliminate the need for RDM and it is also working via ArtNET. So I programmed a prototype software for that usecase.

A change of the configuration starts always by setting DMX channel 1 to a value higher than 240. The controller is now in the configuration mode: the LEDs are showing the current configuration. Now, one can change for example the default personality. By setting DMX channel 1 back to a value less than 240 the changed configuration is saved.

Here is a short video showing this process:

And this is the current DMX channel assignment:

In the folowing showreel one can see the one-channel personality modes in operation. The pixel mapping mode is not shown:


This picture shows a mockup for the one channel LED controller: 



Connector Meaning
Power Mains switch
Reset switch: hold it down on power on to reset config values
USB connector for software update
ArtNET network input for ArtNET
DMX ON switch to enable/disable DMX
DMX IN input for one DMX universe
DMX OUT output to next DMX device (or terminator)
5 V / 10 A output for 5 volt power to the LED stripe(s)
DATA OUT data output for the LED stripe(s)

Some people asked for a controller that is able to operate 8 different LED strips (or a bigger LED curtain). Here is a mockup for such a LED controller. This controller takes ArtNET as controlling data input only. It has also a big power switching device that outputs 5 volts / 200 amperes to operate all LED devices:



With this controller and the HOG pixel mapping one would be able to operate a LED curtain with 46 x 26 LEDs (16:9). This LED curtain would have a power consumption of 180 watts and would emit a light power of 6300 lumen (color white).

Ich unterstütze:


Don Bosco

Kinderhospitz Bärenherz

Kinderhospitz Bärenherz Leipzig e.V.


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