Luca Schultz's BikeBeamer Turns Your Wheels Into Wi-Fi-Equipped Espressif ESP32-Powered POV Displays

Released under a permissive license, BikeBeamer drives 256 LEDs to display the image of your choice — uploaded to an integrated web server.

Gareth Halfacree
1 month agoDisplays / Art / Lights

Self-described technology enthusiast and cyclist Luca Schultz has turned his preferred mode of transportation in to a mobile monitor — by transforming one of its wheels into an Espressif ESP32-powered programmable persistence of vision (POV) display.

"This is my next generation of bike POV displays with extended functionality, a more polished design and an easier user-experience," Schultz writes of the BikeBeamer, which builds on his earlier bkpvdsply project. "BikeBeamer produces beautiful full-color images and animations right in your bike spokes. Capable of showing over 16.9 million colors in its 70cm [around 27.6"] wide circular canvas, it's sure to look stunning with everything it displays."

The BikeBeamer turns any bicycle into a portable full-color POV display. (📹: Luca Schultz)

The BikeBeamer is based on persistence of vision, the effect whereby rapidly-moving lights "smear" across your view — meaning that a simple LED swung quickly enough will appear to draw a line. Add some more LEDs and control when each is illuminated, and you can make pictures appear — which is what BikeBeamer does, offering a relatively high resolution by using a total of 256 high-brightness RGB LEDs per wheel split across four elements to reduce the rotational speed required for a stable image.

The custom BikeBeamer circuit board plays host to an Espressif ESP32 microcontroller module, which uses its Wi-Fi radio to provide the "beamer" part of the name: a simple web interface that allows you to upload an image and convert it for display on the BikeBeamer. "BikeBeamer is a passion project of mine into which countless hours, not to say weekends went," Schultz says of the project. "I'm really happy with how it has turned out and love the never ending first time reactions of people when driving around with it."

Schultz may offer a "small production run" in the future, the maker has said, priced at €20 (around $22) for a bare PCB, €40 (around $43) for a partial kit, €120 (around $130) for a complete kit, €130 (around $141) to include a case, €250 (around $271) assembled, and €260 (around $282) assembled-with-case.

More information is available on the BikeBeamer website, while the design files and source code are published to GitHub under the permissive MIT license.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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