Smart Poi Overview


I started making my own poi many years ago. The first project I made was a single colour version soldered onto stripboard. I used 30 LED’s on each side and an Atmega 328 for the brains. The LED’s had to be charlieplexed together – needless to say that was a lot of work, and I soon moved on to full colour LED strips.

After a brief time trying WS2811/2 LED strips, I discovered the APA102 version, which I am using today. The APA102 strip is a 4 wire protocol, with clock speed wire which means that it can be driven faster – fast enough for POV. For the processor I use ESP-01, Arduino Nano, or D1 Mini. All of these are really cheap, and the Nano and D1 Mini are breadboard friendly for prototyping.

Make your own:

I am going to be going through the steps one by one:

  1. Arduino Nano FastLED PC emulation:
    This is using software on a PC to emulate the spinning poi – without having to actually spin the poi all the time. Very useful for testing.
  2. D1 Mini FastLED PC emulation:
    Same as with the Nano only this time with Wifi!
  3. ESP-01 Easiest poi to make ever:
    I made a no-PCB version of my 36LED Wifi Streaming Smart Poi
    and you can make your own too!
  4. Android App to stream to ESP8266:
    Offload the processing to a powerful smarphone and get so many features like beat reactivity, timeline, computer generated patterns, type in text and have it displayed instantly on the poi
  5. Full smart poi:
    I will share the full PCB – needed for the higher powered version.
  6. Arduino Nano powered Poi:
    Why use the Nano? Well you might have trouble programming the ESP-01. No programmer needed just Arduino and USB cable. I might only get round to documenting this later, the hardware side is really similar to ESP-01 poi but you need 3x alkaline batteries for power.

What do you need for this?

Please if you are going to be following along with the project consider supporting my site hosting charges by purchasing using the links below. These are all products that I have purchased myself and am using right now.

  1. Breadboard:
  2. Arduino Nano (with or without cable):
  3. ESP-01 USB programmer:
  4. ESP-01:
  5. D1 Mini:
  6. Micro USB cable for D1 Mini:
  7. APA102C 1 meter 144px/m LED Strip (very reliable supplier):
  8. thin wire set:
  9. heat shrink tube:
  10. ESP-01 connector:
    Also needed: some resistors, battery holder for 3 x AAA batteries, 3 x AAA NIMH batteries (at least 800 MAH or higher) for powering the ESP-01.

Time to get started!