Painting with light (and a Raspberry Pi)

Our friends at Adafruit just mailed me something remarkably cool. Click the picture to visit their project pages and learn how to do this yourself.

A ring of fire

Sing along: "And it burns, burns, burns..."

The picture you see above is the result of a Raspberry Pi persistance of vision (POV) project similar to the Magic Wand we featured here a few weeks back, where moving lights are photographed at a slow shutter speed to produce a still image. This one’s more sophisticated and requires a bit more kit (a 3-colour LED rope, hula hoop and bicycle in particular – you can buy all the electronics you’ll need to make your own, including the LED rope, from Adafruit, but you’re on your own for the hula hoop and the bike) – and the results are outstanding. There are instructions and code at Adafruit’s project pages, along with some more pictures.

light python

A python drawn using Python

Phillip Burgess, who put the whole thing together, says: “Total project time, starting from zero Python experience to having a working demo, photographs and a tutorial, was about two days.” Brilliant stuff.

On a related note, Limor “LadyAda” Fried, the founder of Adafruit, is currently up for Entrepreneur Magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year award. Please head over and vote for her; she’s doing simply amazing things for electronics, hacker and maker education, and we’re very proud to know her.


Dmitry avatar

c00L!!!!!!!!!!!!! HerE nothing T0 saY

Darren avatar

Such as shame that awsome companies like Adafruit can’t stock the Raspberry Pi.

Radio techno avatar

I agree, Adafruit and Sparkfun are missing as Raspberry Pi distributors.

Ron avatar

Tron Lightcycle is very cool :)

Bessie avatar

Such a shame that it requires a Facebook account to vote. I intentionally don’t have one, and would have voted for Limor Fried in a heartbeat. :-( She has indeed done wonderful things and thoroughly deserves her success

Radio techno avatar

Same here. I would have voted for Limor but the facebook account requirement is just stupid. Can’t they code a normal login form ?

andy avatar

Very nice. Cool pics, easy to do. Voted :)

James H avatar

Anyone else here find themselves chanting, “Sacred fire, sacred flame” in their heads on that first photo? Or am I one of the few who saw Tom Baker when he was Doctor Who?

BTW, these pics are awesome! Amazing what you can do with this. Perhaps a neat crossover class project with compsci and science?

reiuyi avatar

These things give a whole new meaning to “air banner”

neo sam avatar

there one thing that i dont understand here……can this be seen with naked eyes or does it need a camera???an answer would be really appreciated ….tnx in advance :)

Phil avatar

@ neo sam: not at typical bicycle speeds. But if you can whip the LEDs around faster…or alternately, keep the LEDs stationary but get a person’s eyes to dash across then…one can totally do naked eye images. Google around for “Bill Bell POV”.

liz avatar

But don’t blink too frequently!

Phillip Torrone avatar

Update! No Facebook required now! – Text 170116 to 22333 to vote for Limor “Ladyada” Fried for Entrepreneur of 2012

Rudy Van Nuffelen avatar

Great project. How many LED’s did you use in this project ? Is it just 1 meter or more ?


Daniel Doyle avatar

Does anyone have any idea where you can order the materials to make this project in the uk or Ireland?

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