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Getting started with addressable LEDs

In this guide I will show you what you need for an Audectra project with addressable LEDs, how to connect everything together and how to set everything up in Audectra. In my terminology addressable LEDs are strips or panels with RGB LEDs , where each LED can be controlled individually, like WS2812B RGB LEDs for example. Thus each LED is hereby referred to as a pixel. In contrast to non-addressable LEDs, these typically have at least one data channel, where the pixel information of all subsequent LEDs are pushed through.

Requirements

Lets discuss first what you’ll need for this kind of project. Beside the RGB strip or panel, referred to as target, you will need the following components.

Bridge Controller

This component is responsible for applying the render it receives from Audectra to your target. Currently, Audectra is capable of pushing the render encapsulated in the TPM2 or TPM2.Net protocol down to your bridge controller either over a serial interface or UDP.

You can simply buy TPM2 or TPM2.Net controllers on the internet, generally named “LED Player” or “TPM2 Controller”, if you don’t insist on building one on your own. In this case, you can take a look at our base firmware images in our Github repository. If you need help with this step, you are more than welcome to ask for help in the forums.

Note that each controller comes with a limitation of how many addressable LEDs it is able to control. However, you can easily create multiple patches of addressable strips or panels, hook them up in either one multi-channel controller or multiple single channel controllers, and patch them together to one big project in Audectra later on. I will show you in the guide below, how you can patch up multiple channels together to one project.

Power Supply

Don’t underestimate your power hungry strips or panels! Follow this guide to select the right power supply for your project!

Building the setup

The following illustration shows you roughly how to connect everything up.

Addressable Setup

The host is the PC, where you are running Audectra. The bridge receives the output render, which in this case is single-channel configuration, and applies the received pixel information on the target.

First steps in Audectra

Lets hook up your new target by adding a new client in Audectra and creating a sample project. If you need some help with the user interface, take a look at this guide! Since the exact configuration in the next few steps highly depend on your target or setup, we will consider two 16×16 panels connected to one multi-channel bridge controller and patch them together to one bigger project in this guide.

Adding a new client

Lets start by hooking up our bridge into Audectra. Open the bridge settings by on opening the "Settings" menu in the menu bar and selecting the menu item "Bridges". This will open the "Bridge Settings" dialog.

Bridge settings before adding a new client

Click on "Add" on the right side of the "Bridge Settings" dialog. This will open the "Bridge Wizard", which will guide you through the process. First, you need to specify the connection settings. Note, that these settings depend on your system and configuration.

Bridge wizard - connection settings

Clicking next will allow you to set the channel configuration for your bridge. Like stated above, in this guide we assume that we have a bridge with two 16×16 channels. Click on the "+" button to add a new channel to the channel configuration of your bridge and adjust its dimensions to 16×16. Add a second channel with the same size.

Bridge wizard - channel settings

Follow and finish the bridge wizard to add the bridge. Our bridge should now be listed in the bridge settings dialog.

Bridge settings after adding a new client

Close the "Bridge Settings" dialog, by clicking on the "Close" button on the bottom right corner.

Creating a sample project

With our multi-channel bridge connected and configured, lets create a new project for it. Switch to the projects tab by clicking the third button on the right side of Audectra. This will open the project wizard, which will guide you in creating a new project.

With our bridge connected to Audectra, lets create a new project for it. Open the "File" menu in the menu bar and select the menu item "New Project". This will open the "Project Wizard", which will guide you in creating a new project. Select the project type "Addressable" and click on "Next".

Project wizard - strip or panel

When asked, if you want to create a strip or panel project, select the panel project and click on "Next". In this guide, we want to combine two 16×16 panels together to form a 32×16 pixels project. Thus, we set the project dimensions accordingly.

Project wizard - dimensions

After finishing the project wizard, the new project will be added to the project tree on the left side of Audectra.

Main window after renaming project

Rename the project by selecting it, right-click on it and select the menu item "Rename" in the context menu. You will be able to rename the project in place.

Patching up the project

In this guide, we now have a 32×16 pixels project, but two targets with each 16×16 pixels. In this step, we will configure Audectra to split up the projects output render in two 16×16 renders and push them down to the corresponding channels of our multi-channel bridge.

Select the project, right-click on it and select the menu item "Add new Patch". This will open the "Patching Wizard", which will guide you through the patching process. On the first page of the wizard, select the first channel we've configured earlier on our bridge.

Patching wizard - bridge channel selection

Click next and select "Snake-Lines -> Top Left" as patching mode. Note, that the patching mode depends on your panel configurations.

Patching wizard - patch mode selection

The next page will prompts you to position the patch on the project. Position it at (0, 0), click on next and finish the wizard.

Patching wizard - patch position

Follow the steps above again to add the second patch to the project, targeting the second channel on our bridge and positioned at (16,0) on the render output.

Patching wizard - patch position

After finishing the wizard, you can see the applied render patches in the project tree under "Patches".

Main window after adding patch

Adding a project state

So far we have connected our multi-channel bridge, where two 16×16 pixels panels are hooked up, and configured a new project to push patches of the output render to both targets. Now we need to add a state to our project. Right-click on the selected project and select the menu item "Add new State" in the context menu. This will add a new state, named "State 0", to the project.

Main window after adding and renaming state

Rename the state by selecting it, right-click on it and select the menu item "Rename" in the context menu. You will be able to rename the state in place.

Adding some effect layers

Lets say we want to make a colorful fire visualization, where the intensity of the fire depends on the temporal RMS value. With the newly created state selected in the project tree, click on the "Layers" tab to open the layer configuration for the selected state.

Layers tab before adding effects

Add a new layer by clicking the "+" button under the layer list. This will prompt you with the "Effect Wizard", asking you to choose the effect you want to add to this state. Select the "Fire" effect and click on finish, which will add the effect to your layer list. Rename the layer by selecting it, right-click on it and select the menu item "Rename" in the context menu. You will be able to rename the layer in place.

Layers tab after adding fire effect

Your target should now light up according to what you see in the layer preview. If it doesn’t, check your configuration and setup again. If you need further assistance, don't hesitate to ask for support.

Lets change the color of our fire effect. To achieve that, we open the layer settings by selecting our layer, right-clicking on it and selecting the menu item "Layer Properties" in the context menu. This will open the "Layer Settings" dialog for the selected layer. Scroll down to the color group and change the color according to the following screenshot. The three sliders in the color group correspond to the red, green and blue color values respectively.

Layer settings of fire effect after color changed

Close the layer settings dialog, take a moment and enjoy this awesome fire effect!

Layers tab after changing color of fire effect

To make this fire effect a tad more colorful, follow the steps above to add a new layer of the effect "Color Wheel" and rename it to "Rainbow". Set its blending mode to "Soft Light".

Layers tab after adding color wheel effect

So far, we've achieved our awesome colorful fire visualization. However, there is no binding to the temporal RMS value active yet. Lets change that! Select the fire effect layer and open its layer settings, like described above. Click on the "Bind" button of the "Emission Rate" slider, which will open the expression editor for this setting. Enter the following expression into the expression editor.

Limit(Temporal.Rms, 0.2)

This expression will take the RMS value of your sound output in real-time and limit it to a value of 0.2 for this layer setting. The limitation is necessary to avoid an over saturation of our fire effect (otherwise it might light up just white in the end).

Expression editor for emission rate of fire effect

If you are happy with the preview graph on the bottom of the expression editor, click on "Save" to save the expression. To enable the binding with our defined expression, simply right-click on the "Bind" button beside the slider. This will activate the binding and turn the button green.

Layer settings of fire effect after binding

Close the layer settings dialog. You've successfully created an awesome colorful fire visualization!

Saving the project

Lets save our new project by right-clicking on our selected project in the project tree and selecting the menu item "Save" in the context menu. This will open a dialog, asking you to specify the path and name for your project file. Click on “Save” and you’re done.

The next time you start Audectra, you can load this project by opening the "File" menu in the menu bar and selecting the menu item "Load Project". This will open a dialog, asking you to specify the path and name for your project file. Click on “Open” to load the project.