More WS2812 Failures

Even though I’m using what seem to be good-quality parts, one of the WS2812 RGB LEDs in a Glass Tile frame died:

Glass Tile - 2x2 - first WS2812B failure
Glass Tile – 2×2 – first WS2812B failure

It passed the Josh Sharpie Test:

Glass Tile - WS2812 failure - PCB unknown
Glass Tile – WS2812 failure – PCB unknown

After building the third Glass Tile unit, one of the LEDs didn’t light up due to an easily diagnosed problem:

Glass Tile - WS2812 failure - PCB cold solder - as found
Glass Tile – WS2812 failure – PCB cold solder – as found

A closer look:

Glass Tile - WS2812 failure - PCB cold solder
Glass Tile – WS2812 failure – PCB cold solder

Shortly thereafter, the Nissan Fog Lamp developed an obvious beam problem:

Nissan Fog Lamp - failed WS2812 effect
Nissan Fog Lamp – failed WS2812 effect

The WS2812 had the proper voltages / signals at all its pins and was still firmly stuck to the central “heatsink”:

Nissan Fog Lamp - failed WS2812 detail
Nissan Fog Lamp – failed WS2812 detail

It also passed the Josh Sharpie Test:

Glass Tile - WS2812 failure - tape - unknown
Glass Tile – WS2812 failure – tape – unknown

I’m particularly surprised by this one, because eleven of the twelve flex-PCB WS2812s in the Hard Drive Platter light have been running continuously for years with no additional failures.

The alert reader will note the common factor: no matter what substrate the LED is (supposed to be) soldered to, no matter when I bought it, no matter what it’s wired into, a WS2812 will fail.

They’re all back in operation:

Glowing Algorithmic Art
Glowing Algorithmic Art

Although nobody knows for how long …

Obviously, it’s time to refresh my programmable RGB LED stockpile!

Monthly Science: USB Current Testers vs. NP-BX1 Batteries

Having some interest in my Sony HDR-AS30 helmet camera’s NP-BX1 battery runtime, I’ve been measuring and plotting recharge versus runtime after each ride:

USB Testers - Charge vs Runtime
USB Testers – Charge vs Runtime

The vertical axis is the total charge in mA·h, the horizontal axis is the discharge time = recorded video duration. Because 1 A = 1 coulomb/s, 1 mA·h = 3.6 C.

The data points fall neatly on two lines corresponding to a pair of cheap USB testers:

USB Testers
USB Testers

When you have one tester, you know the USB current. When you have two testers, you’re … uncertain.

The upper tester is completely anonymous, helpfully displaying USB Tester while starting up. The lower one is labeled “Keweisi” to distinguish it from the myriad others on eBay with identical hardware; its display doesn’t provide any identifying information.

The back sides reveal the current sense resistors:

USB Testers - sense resistors
USB Testers – sense resistors

Even the 25 mΩ resistor drops enough voltage that the charger’s blue LED dims appreciably during each current pulse. The 50 mΩ resistor seems somewhat worse in that regard, but eyeballs are notoriously uncalibrated optical sensors.

The upper line (from the anonymous tester) has a slope of 11.8 mA·h/minute of discharge time, the lower (from the Keweisi tester) works out to 8.5 mA·h/minute. There’s no way to reconcile the difference, so at some point I should measure the actual current and compare it with their displays.

Earlier testing suggested the camera uses 2.2 W = 600 mA at 3.7 V. Each minute of runtime consumes 10 mA·h of charge:

10 mA·h = 600 mA × 60 s / (3600 s/hour)

Which is in pretty good agreement with neither of the testers, but at least it’s in the right ballpark. If you boldly average the two slopes, it’s dead on at 10.1 mA·h/min; numerology can produce any answer you need if you try hard enough.

Actually, I’d believe the anonymous meter’s results are closer to the truth, because recharging a lithium battery requires 10% to 20% more energy than the battery delivered to the device, so 11.8 mA·h/min sounds about right.

Memo to Self: Trust, but verify.

Glass Tiles: 2×2 Matrix

Start with a single cell holding a glass tile over a WS2812 RGB LED:

Glass Tile - 1x1 cell test - purple phase
Glass Tile – 1×1 cell test – purple phase

A bit of OpenSCAD tinkering produces a simple 2×2 array with square interiors as a test piece:

Glass Tile - 2x2 - PETG strings
Glass Tile – 2×2 – PETG strings

The excessive stringing and the booger in the upper-left cell come from absurdly thin infill tucked into the too-thin walls; Slic3r doesn’t (seem to) have a “minimum infill width” setting and it’ll desperately try to fit infill between two nearly adjacent perimeter threads.

The little support spiders under the LED PCB recesses snapped right out, though, so I got that part right:

Glass Tile - 2x2 - support spiders
Glass Tile – 2×2 – support spiders

The perimeter threads around the LED aperture aren’t quite fused, because it was only one layer thick and that’s not enough.

A quick test with two LEDs showed the white PETG let far too much light bleed between the cells, which was no surprise from the single cell test piece.

Fortunately, it’s all parametric, so a bit more tinkering produced a slightly chunkier matrix with a base for an Arduino Nano and M3 threaded brass inserts for the screws holding it together:

Glass Tile Frame - 2x2 - Arduino Nano base - solid model
Glass Tile Frame – 2×2 – Arduino Nano base – solid model

Those two parts require about three hours of printing, much faster than I could produce them by milling pockets into aluminum or black acrylic slabs, and came out with minimal stringing.

A little cleanup, some epoxy work, and a few dabs of solder later:

Glass Tile - 2x2 - Arduino wiring
Glass Tile – 2×2 – Arduino wiring

An initial lamp test showed the white-ish glass tiles aren’t all quite the same color:

Glass Tile - 2x2 - white color variation
Glass Tile – 2×2 – white color variation

I thought it was an LED color variation, too, but the slightly blue tint in the lower left corner followed the tile.

The blurred horizontal strip across the middle is adhesive tape holding the tiles in place; I was reluctant to glue them in before being sure this whole thing would work. A peek into the future, though, shows it’s got potential:

Glass Tile - 2x2 - first two units
Glass Tile – 2×2 – first two units

They do give off a definite Windows logo vibe, don’t they?

The OpenSCAD source code as a GitHub Gist:

Glass Tiles: Single Test Cell

A single glass tile rests on the ridge around the pyramidal interior:

Glass Tile Frame - pyramid cell
Glass Tile Frame – pyramid cell

The bottom has a cutout for the WS2812 PCB, with some in-the-model support for simplicity:

Glass Tile Frame - pyramid cell - bottom
Glass Tile Frame – pyramid cell – bottom

Which becomes this in real life:

Glass Tile - 1x1 cell test - pyramid PETG strings
Glass Tile – 1×1 cell test – pyramid PETG strings

There’s plenty of PETG hair inside the opening, which seems like a Bad Thing all around.

Cleaning out the worst of the fur, taping a WS2812 LED into the opening, and dropping a white-ish tile in place:

Glass Tile - 1x1 cell test - purple phase
Glass Tile – 1×1 cell test – purple phase

Obviously, JPG compression wasn’t built with a finely textured granular surface in mind:

Glass Tile - 1x1 cell test - blue phase
Glass Tile – 1×1 cell test – blue phase

But it looks really nice in a dim room!

With a physical object in hand, it’s obvious the pyramidal interior adds exactly zero value:

  • Direct rays in the beam from the WS2812 don’t hit the walls
  • Light outside the beam doesn’t contribute much after hitting those irregular walls

So the next pass should be just a hollow box with tweaked tile & PCB measurement: rapid prototyping in full effect!

Glass Tiles: Proof of Concept

Extract some victims from a square foot of glass tiles:

Glass Tiles - as sold
Glass Tiles – as sold

Wire an old WS2812 breakout board (the new ones are much larger) to an Arduino Nano running the Nissan Fog Lamp firmware:

Glass Tile - backlight blue - setup
Glass Tile – backlight blue – setup

Aaaand it looks like this might actually work:

Glass Tile - backlight blue
Glass Tile – backlight blue

The WS2812 “beam” illuminates the 25 mm square tile without too much vignetting at about 15 mm.

The bottom tile is white-ish, the top is gray-ish, and they look different enough to justify using only one color in each array:

Glass Tile - backlight neutral
Glass Tile – backlight neutral

Now, for some solid modeling …

Floor Lamp Height vs. Reach: Plumbing Fitting

The floor lamp with the invisible / non-tactile controls moved to a different chair, where it didn’t have quite enough reach and too much height. Knowing what was about to happen, I spliced a JST-SM connector into the wire inside the tube:

Floor Lamp - base wiring JST-SM connector
Floor Lamp – base wiring JST-SM connector

After trimming off all the extraneous bits, the larger half of the connector (male pins) fits through the tubing and the smaller half (female sockets) barely fits through the bottom bushings.

It turns out half-inch copper pipe fittings (ID = 15.9 mm) almost exactly fit the tubing (OD = 15.7 mm):

Floor Lamp - copper 45° elbow
Floor Lamp – copper 45° elbow

A quick test showed the 45° (actually, it’s 135°, but we’re deep into plumbing nomenclature) positioned the lamp head too high and with too much reach:

Floor Lamp - gooseneck exercise
Floor Lamp – gooseneck exercise

So shorten the tube attached to the head and deburr the cut:

Floor Lamp - tube deburring
Floor Lamp – tube deburring

The 45° fitting is too high and a 90° fitting is obviously too low, so cut a 20° slice out of a 90° fitting:

Floor Lamp - copper 90° elbow - 20° cutout
Floor Lamp – copper 90° elbow – 20° cutout

Cut a snippet of brass tubing to fit, bash to fit, file to hide, buff everything to a high shine, silver-solder it in place, and buff everything again:

Floor Lamp - copper 90° elbow - 20° fill strip
Floor Lamp – copper 90° elbow – 20° fill strip

The 5/8 inch aluminum rods serve to stiffen the fitting, smooth out the torch heating, and generally keep things under control.

Wrap the obligatory Kapton tape around the butt ends of the tubes to fill the fitting’s oversize hole, put everything together, and it’s just about perfect:

Floor Lamp - copper 70° elbow - installed
Floor Lamp – copper 70° elbow – installed

I immobilized the fitting with black Gorilla tape, but it really needs something a bit more permanent. One of these days, maybe, a pair of setscrews will happen.

The additional reach required a little more counterweight on the far side for security, so I added the broken stub of a truck leaf spring. It should be secured firmly to the base plate, but no tool I own can put a dent in those three pounds of spring steel. Maybe it’ll merit a fancy enclosure wrapped around the base?

Halogen H3 Bulb

Peering into the bulb salvaged from the Nissan fog light suggests the scuff on the lens corresponds to an impact mighty enough to disarrange the filament:

Halogen H3 bulb - 1.5 A - light
Halogen H3 bulb – 1.5 A – light

No surprise, as the car completely shattered the utility pole.

The glow draws 1.5 A from a bench supply at 1 V, just to show the filament isn’t lighting up evenly across those gaps. The bulb runs at 55 W from 12 V and would be, I’m sure, blindingly bright, although the heat concentrated in those few coils suggests it’d burn out fairly quickly.

By LED standards, though, you don’t get much light for your 1.5 W …

An underexposed version highlights the filament, just for pretty:

Halogen H3 bulb - 1.5 A - dark
Halogen H3 bulb – 1.5 A – dark

Cropped to 9:16, it’s now a desktop background.