Archive | FastLED

IoT MQTT Panel Pro Device Prefix

As mentioned in my ‘Getting Started’ post, I create separate ‘devices’ for my different Arduino sketches, such as mqtt-LED, mqtt-fire2012xy, mqtt-mesh, and so on. In addition, I may have more than 1 of each type of lantern displaying at the same time. To do so, I will serialize each lantern (it’s in the code) and using a combo box widget, I can then select one or ALL of each device type and publish that to the broker, which will then get picked up by the subscribing device. I’ll then use another widget to send hue, brightness to other information to the selected devices.

In order to support these multiple device types (aka sketches), I’ll add a device prefix to the topic.

For a fire2012 lantern, the published topic can look like this:

  • fire/lantern
  • fire/hue

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Some ESP8266 and MQTT Examples

Our first example was outlined in “Getting Started withi ESP8266 and MQTT“. This first example uses a sketch called mqtt-LED-synchronous.ino to blink the internal LED. It waits for the wifi initialization, followed by the MQTT initialization to complete before the continuous loop can run.

The second example is called mqtt-LED and appears similar to the first examples, however while the networking and MQTT code are initializing, the loop is running. In addition, if we temporarily lose MQTT connectivity, the sketch will continue MQTT transmission/reception once communications are re-established.

The third example is called mqtt-JSON and adds JSON data exchange to the previous example, allowing for more detailed information to be exchanged between the control panel and the subscribing device.

mqtt-fire is our first example using the FastLED display library. Controls in this example are a combo box, which is used to select from one or more fire enabled lanterns, while the remaining slider controls support brightness, hue, speed, cooling and sparking.

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Getting Started with ESP8266 and MQTT

Being able to control an Arduino remotely really ups our automation game. In the beginning, it was buttons and potentiometers and from there, we graduated to Infra Red remote control.

With the widespread availability of IoT (Internet of Things) functionality, we now have Internet connectivity to our Arduino compatible microcontrollers. One method is to setup our Arduino as a web server, and Jason Coon’s ESP8266 webserver is a prime example.

Another option is a messaging protocol called MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) which provides a lightweight method of controlling IoT devices, and in this case an ESP8266 based microcontroller.

This tutorial goes through the steps of setting up an Android phone and an ESP8266 based WeMOS D1 Mini with MQTT controls to turn the internal LED of the ESP8266 on and off.

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Dusting off the Arduino Cobwebs

As you get older, it takes a bit of time to get back up to speed on things. In this case, I hadn’t been programming the Arduino with the FastLED display library for a few months and I started to get back into it. When I last left, I’d standardized and documented my wiring colours, pinouts and to use either the Arduino Nano or the Pro Micro. So far so good, as it was all nicely laid out for me.

I had a spare Nano kicking around, so I attached it to my USB port, started up the Arduino 1.6.3 IDE and loaded a basic FastLED program. The Nano was recognized as a Com port in the IDE (so I didn’t have clone FTDI issues to contend with), checked the code and started to program it. Despite several attempts, the code never did upload so I put the Nano aside.

Next, I got out a previously used Pro Micro and I immediately encountered driver issues with it. Remembering that I had to use Leonardo drivers, I fiddled around for half an hour with drivers, but never did get it recognized correctly. Let’s toss that aside as well.

Finally, I opened up a brand new Pro Micro, installed it, and saw that it was immediately recognized. At that point, I threw out the Nano and the first Pro Micro (I’m not very sentimental). I then programmed it up, and . . . nothing happened. I re-checked the wiring and the code a couple of times, and again, no LED’s. I then added some debug code for the serial monitor and saw that the Pro Micro was indeed being programmed correctly. I then triple checked the wiring and saw that I’d soldered part of the insulation to the¬†data pin and had no connection. After the insulation was removed and the connection re-soldered, I tried again, but alas, no lights. Things weren’t going well today.

I checked the wiring thoroughly and saw (barely) that the data wire was also sliced halfway down its length, so I cut the wiring below the slice and then soldered that to the Pro Micro. At long last, the LED’s came on as expected and I’m now back (tentatively) in the FastLED environment.

Moral of the story: Check everything. Several times.

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Getting FastLED help

The FastLED community is on Google+.

Before asking the community¬†for support, please remember that they need a reasonable amount of information in order to help. Depending on the issue, here’s some important details to include:

  • What kind of LED’s you’re using.
  • What microcontroller board you’re using.
  • What version of the FastLED library you’re using.
  • What version of Arduino IDE you’re using.
  • What OS you’re building from.
  • A circuit diagram/layout (try using Fritzing to show it).
  • A copy of your .ino file (copy it to www.pastebin.com or gist.github.com).
  • Essentially, give us EVERYTHING in excruciating detail.
  • Provide specifics on how/where it’s all being powered up.
  • That would be pins, voltages, power supply used. . . every . . single . . wire.
  • Try and remove all the superfluous code and minimize the amount of code that exhibits the issue.
  • Oh, and triple check EVERYTHING. Again!
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Costing a FastLED Display Locally

Here’s an approximate cost breakdown if I were to head into some local electronics stores to purchase components for my portable displays:

Miscellaneous items include zip tie, solder, a few sizes of heat shrink tubing.

Then there’s my labour at a minimum of $40/hr and it takes about 45 minutes to build one.

Oh, did I mention all the time I spent learning/developing the coding and techniques?

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