BRITE Energy Innovators

Our Newest LED Lighting & Sensor Project at BRITE

Before I depart on my journey in owning and running my business full time, I have one last blog post I need to write, and this one is about the large hexagon shaped lights that are now on display on the Mezzanine of the building.

Where did the idea come from?
About a year ago Sara Daugherty wanted to do a project that dealt with lights and sensors. I came up with this idea for these large hexagon lights with a certain type of LED strip on the back side that would shine on the wall to give a glowing effect that would respond to the mail being delivered.
How were they built?
The Hexagons
To build them, it was pretty simple. My dad, who’s a woodworker and has his own business (www.pjgwoodworx.com) helped me take 2×4 pieces of wood, plane and assemble them into 3 hexagons. After that, I painted them the same color as BRITE’s trim on the first floor level.
The Circuitry
Now, the fun part, the LEDs! I used WS2812b addressable LED strips so we could do different patterns on them. Every side of the hexagon had a strip of 23 LEDs attached to the back of them all wired together. These LED strips are notorious for something called voltage drop. Voltage drop occurs when, over the length of a wire, the voltage drops due to resistance of a wire. In order to combat this on the hexagon themselves, there is a 5v and ground rail that loops around the entire hexagon with one point of power injection. At the same point of power injection is a microcontroller, specifically the ESP32. The power comes from a 5v power supply mounted in the ceiling with wire coming down feeding each hexagon.
This Wi-Fi microcontroller makes it easy to wirelessly run the lights anywhere in the building. The microcontroller is powered by the same 5v and ground rail the lights are powered by. I then programmed them to connect to the alley lighting controller server so that no BRITE staff has to worry about updating the pattern on the lights.
Once we got them together, we needed a place to put them. This ended up being about a year before we decided on where we could hang them. We finally chose to put them on the stage wall on the mezzanine. This gave the stage a nice on-brand backdrop as well.

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