If you ever want to build something really big, it’s usually best to test your design at a smaller scale first. Doing so will help you address unforeseen complications before you spend a lot of time, money, and energy on constructing the real thing. That’s why makeTVee decided to build this LED Matrix Cylinder, but his small scale test turned out to be a pretty amazing accomplishment in its own right.
This project started when makeTVee began wondering if a matrix of WS2812B individually-addressable, NeoPixel-style RGB LEDs would look good in a cylindrical form. He wants to build that on a very large scale, as a kind of interactive art installation, but rightly decided that it would be best to test the effect on a small version first. The result is the LED Matrix Cylinder, and it’s probably an understatement to say that his scale test was an absolute success.
The structure of the cylinder was designed in Autodesk Fusion 360 CAD software and then laser cut from thin cardboard. That forms a cylindrical tower with 100 individual chambers, each with their own WS2812B RGB LED. A thin paper veneer called microwood was laid over the chambers to diffuse the light. The LEDs are controlled directly by a Raspberry Pi, and can display a number of pattern effects, and even text. With these results, it’s safe to say that makeTVee should go ahead and move onto the large scale project.