Texas Instruments has managed to invent the funkiest piece of furniture almost completely by accident. The team from TI have created the ultimate Disco coffee-table. Designed as a demonstration project for TI’s MSP-430 microcontroller the project was just a side note until they switched it on.
The project was given the title ‘The RGB LED Coffee Table’ and the plans are available for anyone to make their own. Watching the video you are quickly hypnotised by the wild colour changes and rhythmic beat matching that causes colours to wash over the table in waves. The LED lights used are capable of displaying any of 16 million colours in its palette, and it shows, graduated fade outs being one of the beautiful results.
The top of the coffee table is covered with 128 frosted glass tubes each containing an RGB LED light. The LED’s in each tube are controlled by the clever MSP-430, this allows patterns and beat matching programs to be run on the table. The table top can display animations at 40 frames per second, making for quite fast and smooth animations. The 128 tubes are arranged in a 16×8 grid, not high enough resolution for detailed pictures but plenty enough for a funky coffee table. For the mod’ers out there a Python library is available that allows custom programs to control the table top, want a clock under your coffee cup, write it, upload it to the table and no more questions from the timeless. Instructions and diagrams are available from the LaunchPad site for making your own disco coffee table if the idea grabs you.
LaunchPad is TI’s quick development system built around the MPS-430 microcontroller just like the 430G2553 used in the coffee table which runs at 16mhz, has 16kb of Flash, 512 bytes of Sram and 2 16 bit timers, quite a capable chip. The core of the development kit is the ValueLine controller board, appropriate name, each board is the bargain basement price of $4.30. The board has a socket for the MSP-430 microcontroller, mini-usb port for pc connection and connectors for various expansion boards called BoosterPacks. The BoosterPacks take the off the shelf approach further. Almost zero work is required to add the BoosterPacks to the 430, plug it in and change some of the programming, done. Various handy add-ons are already available including; LCD display controllers with wireless, solar cells, wireless charging modules and touch input kits. The RGB LED Coffee table isn’t the only project offered by the LaunchPad site, LaunchPad Bot is a robot the multiple 430 micro to make the bot scurry about the floor also worth a mention is Music2Go is a portable 16 note sound generator. If your interested in getting into electronics at the soldering iron level this definitely looks like an easy introduction.
TI’s RGB LED coffee table has to be one of life’s wonderful accidents, TI set out to sell its 430 microprocessor and ended up creating the funkiest piece of disco furniture ever which will draw plenty of attention to the 430 naturally enough. This I can say with complete confidence, when Highpants HQ gets a coffee table budget a couple of these bad boys are going in the break room, even if it means a year with a soldering iron and lead poisoning.
Buddha’s Brother out…