The flame that does not burn – Open Electronics


Primarily based on Neopixel and a particular ultra-thin Arduino, it simulates the sunshine produced by chimney flames

As yearly, the strategy of the winter season stimulates our creativeness and reminds us that electronics can do loads, not solely concretely (creating automatisms for indoor air-con) but in addition for pleasure and leisure; so listed below are born tasks on the theme with the younger however well-established Halloween vacation, inherited from the Anglo-Saxon custom (and even earlier Celtic …) primarily based on performs of lights and sounds to animate pumpkins, lanterns and so forth, but in addition issues for finish of 12 months festivities, corresponding to technological decorations for timber, homes, store home windows.

Maybe, given the rampant presence of business actions and the Chinese language group, the day will even come when electronics will invent some devices for the oriental “Lantern Competition” now additionally being re-proposed in Italy.

So once more this 12 months we now have created a shiny gadget, profiting from the inevitable Neopixel LEDs and dusting off, for his or her management, our “workhorse” that’s the Arduino-powered enterprise card, specifically the FT1120 Enterprise Card of Open Electronics, which is principally an Arduino Leonardo in enterprise card format, skinny and interactive, however very versatile , a lot so as to mount, if you don’t want to make use of it for the appliance of selection, additionally the Arduino headers to use any shields.

The result’s a really spectacular gadget, which mounted on an appropriate black plastic body displaying internally the form of a flame, with behind utilized a layer of opaque white plexiglass, completely simulates the hearth and might due to this fact develop into an impact for a pub or a bar fashion gothic or slightly ‘darkish and, why not, the guts of a pretend hearth. The flexibility of the mission additionally lets you create totally different shapes from the flame (we’ll see later how), and inserting LEDs right into a pumpkin you may get a shiny gadget for the Halloween occasion, the place from the holes, flames will unfold, illuminating throughout with spectacular results.

In fact, what we are going to get on this case is not going to be an actual flame made to warmth, however it’ll create an environment of digital heat with the appeal of the flame and its swaying that on gloomy days we are going to certainly admire.

In spite of everything, because the “Nomads” sang 50 years in the past, “…the hearth of a hearth shouldn’t be as scorching because the morning solar….” so even the actual hearth could not fulfill you….


Makes use of apart, through which we’re positive we now have little to show you, let’s see what it’s: the system consists of an Arduino Enterprise Card FT1120 that we now have programmed with a sketch that may, by importing an acceptable library, to drive the Neopixel LED strips containing a unique variety of RGB diodes and organized appropriately to type the traditional form of the flame.

Because the Bi-Card FT1120 is an Arduino-compatible controller, structurally just like the Leonardo, for the administration of Neopixel LEDs we relied on the broad availability of libraries churned out for this goal by the group of Arduino builders.

Amongst these accessible on the Internet, to handle the Neopixel strips we selected the favored library Fastled, which we now have modified customizing it based on the wants of the mission; the selection of this library was dictated by the truth that it has significantly simplified the administration of Neopixel LEDs and since among the many numerous demos that integrates gives the flame impact: so with it we now have solved many of the software program design.

Because the library doesn’t help the management of the variety of strips that we wanted to attract the form of the flame (or somewhat, to light up it) we now have modified it to handle a number of channels (strips) so not in collection; to be actual, we now have 5 strips to offer the form of the flame and run in another way from one another and the Fastled has been tailored to handle 5 I/O strains of the Arduino board, that are the digital I/O D8, D9, D10, D11 and D12.

Thus far the Neopixel administration; the firmware, nevertheless, can be chargeable for different duties and particularly for the studying of two of the buttons on the cardboard, that within the authentic mission of the Enterprise Card had been used to activate by way of USB the online browser opening capabilities for pointing to the online web page of the proprietor, the opening of the e-mail consumer and the related Social Networks. Particularly, we use the e-mail button (we are going to name it button 1) and the one to entry the Twitter profile (we are going to name it button 2).

Concerning the capabilities assigned to them by the firmware, they’re as follows:

P2 turns into Button 1 and is used each to activate the system, and when the circuit is working, to alter the impact; the button is the one which within the Bi-Card prompts the opening of the consumer for e-mail;

P4 turns into Button 2, which if pressed turns off the sunshine recreation, bringing the microcontroller to standby; the button is the one to open Social Twitter.

The set may be simply powered from the microUSB connector (which on this circuit is ready to carry effectively over 1 ampere) profiting from the truth that the Arduino Enterprise Card has the pads for the usual Arduino headers, amongst that are these comparable to +5V and floor.

The Neopixel LEDs that altogether the board should drive are 144 and this quantity shouldn’t be random, however it outcomes from a compromise between the specified measurement for the system, then for the flame, and the traits of the merchandise accessible in the marketplace; on this case we determined to acquire the strips from a roll of Neopixel LEDs marketed by Open Electronics (code 2846-1MNEO144 of that counts, actually, 144 neopixel diodes. This can be a strip roll containing RGB LEDs addressable excessive brightness, versatile and weatherproof as a result of it’s characterised by diploma of safety IP67, this characteristic, which may very well be fascinating if you wish to make a gadget to work exterior.

Every particular person LED (SMD5050) integrates the management chip. Every chip communicates with the following by way of a line transferring the knowledge obtained. The space between the LEDs is 7 mm and the strip may be lower to every LED, i.e. every LED may be managed individually, but in addition that from the strip we will make strips of the specified variety of Neopixels.

The ability provide of the strip is normal 5 Vdc and the utmost absorption with all LEDs lit white at full energy is 8.5A, however this situation in our circuit won’t ever come true, as a result of at most we could have an absorption of lower than 1.5 amps.

From the roll it’s important to lower out 5 strips and join them not randomly, however with a sure order which is what the firmware expects; to be actual we now have the next correspondence between the Arduino pin and the variety of LEDs:

D8 drives the 27 Neopixel strip;

D9 drives the 31 Neopixel strip;

D10 drives the 41 Neopixel strip;

D11 drives the 28 Neopixel strip;

D12 drives the 17 Neopixel strip.

You may customise the association of RGB LEDs and likewise the variety of those who make up every portion, for instance to attract the everyday Halloween pumpkin with glowing eyes, however you might want to put arms on the firmware and its library.

By way of firmware, though the Fastled library takes care of many of the duties, the sketch continues to be lengthy to be revealed in full on this article, so we report solely an extract in Itemizing 1 the place you may see the “outline” of the code.

Itemizing 1

#outline STRIP1_DATA_PIN 8 // outline information pins for all 3 LED strips
#outline STRIP2_DATA_PIN 9
#outline STRIP3_DATA_PIN 10
#outline STRIP4_DATA_PIN 11
#outline STRIP5_DATA_PIN 12
#outline pulseff 5
#outline pulsoff 3
#outline NUM_LEDS_1 27 // what number of LEDs in every strip
#outline NUM_LEDS_2 31
#outline NUM_LEDS_3 41
#outline NUM_LEDS_4 28
#outline NUM_LEDS_5 17
#outline FRAMES_PER_SECOND 25 // sooner or slower burning hearth
#outline COOLING 55 // Much less cooling = taller flames. Default 55, instructed vary 20-100
#outline SPARKING 50 //Increased likelihood = extra roaring hearth. Default 120, instructed vary 50-200
#outline BRIGHTNESS 125 //Set international brightness right here. 0-255
#outline FADE 40 //How slowly the LEDs fade to off


In it you may see the directions that outline the variety of LEDs that make up the person strips, that are these to be modified in case you need to change the form and size of the parts of the LED strip; the present values correspond to the default lengths of the strips proven within the drawing on the prime of the web page.

As well as, if you would like (you are able to do it safely) add channels after which strip Neopixel than the 5 supplied, it’s essential to add the relative outline and adapt the sketch, which you’ll be able to obtain from our web site together with the mission recordsdata and drawings to get the flame from plexiglass.


The remainder is all within the mechanical half, that’s to say within the body, which we now have considered you may see from the pictures proposed in these pages (specifically from Fig. 1): it’s a 3 mm thick plexiglass construction made up of:

a slab hollowed out internally based on the form of the flame which is essentially the most superior half (measuring 155×360 mm with the bottom enlarged to 189.4 mm);

an oblong white plexiglass plate of the identical dimensions, utilized behind it in direct contact or spaced utilizing 5 or 6 mm spacers (measuring 1 mm lower than the entrance on both sides);

a black plexiglass base plate of the identical dimensions because the entrance one, to which the LED strips are utilized, gluing them with smooth double-sided tape or silicone sealant, as proven in Fig. 2.

The three plates are joined by the use of 4 units of cylindrical spacer studs and as many 4MA bolts with nut, which in our particular case we selected Allen with cylindrical head, as you may see from the pictures of the prototype.


Additionally in our model, we included a 3D printed enclosure with our 3Drag printer, made from black PLA; it too, just like the plexiglass plates, is bought from Open Electronics. This enclosure was screwed behind the again plate that acts as a help for the Neopixel strips, and has a again cowl with two versatile button covers lower out to press on the P1 and P2 buttons on the Enterprise Card (Fig. 3).

As for the connections, you may take a cue from Fig. 4, the place you may see the wires used for wiring to the LED strips, that are a part of a multicolor strip; word how the wires are stopped by adhesive tape and are available out on the rear from a slot within the plate on which the strips are mounted, in order to facilitate the wiring with the board, which no matter whether or not or not you select to equip it with the container printed in 3D, might be positioned on the rear so as to not intervene with the remainder of the construction, nor with the propagation of sunshine produced by LED Neopixel.


In fact, the kind of casing we thought and proposed in these pages from the pictures is an concept and one in all many potentialities; nothing prevents you from rethinking the construction and even the shape, for instance, simplifying the entire and composing it of solely two rectangular or sq. plates, one backside and one entrance in white plexiglass, which you’ll then apply the black adhesive movie lower out with the form of the hollowed out flame.

In brief, you may let your creativeness run wild, as a result of what issues is {the electrical} wiring; the remainder is customized to your wants.


As for the programming of the system (the firmware) the sketch is loaded as in any Arduino board, within the sense that it’s programmed utilizing the Arduino IDE as if it had been a third-party board; to do that it’s essential to open the IDE (it have to be not less than model 1.6.x) and provides the menu command Instruments>Board>Boards Supervisor with which you’ll entry the menu that summarizes the accessible boards, through which you’ll click on on Arduino Leonardo.


At this level, join the Arduino Bi-Card to the Private Pc utilizing a cable terminating with the microUSB connector, open the COM assigned to it, being understood that in programming it’s essential to not energy the board with different voltage sources, in any other case there could be a battle between the USB energy provide and the exterior one, leading to injury to the board and or the pc.

Now go to open (File/Open) the sketch downloaded from our web site along with the opposite mission recordsdata and click on on the ship button to load it into the reminiscence of the Arduino Enterprise Card.

As soon as loaded, disconnect the cable from the microUSB socket and the circuit is prepared to be used; then join the facility provide connector to the microUSB and press Button 1 to activate the flame: you’ll instantly see the great animation it’s able to, which might be emphasised if the gadget is turned on in a low-light room.


Our Neopixel LED flame is a wonderful gadget for use in lots of conditions, simply achievable and absolutely customizable each underneath the mechanical side (you may change the form and consequently the association of the LED strips at will), each for what it issues electronics; on this respect, as talked about, you may modify the quantity and amount of Neopixel strips and respective LEDs by adjusting the sketch.

Good job!



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