Smart Poi

Smartpoi is open source

I am working towards opening up the whole thing, hopefully I can get some productive feedback this way. However, to make something for yourself is one thing, to share is another. Lets just say the code is not ready to be shared. #messyprogrammer a lot

In the meantime here is a simple POV example on github which will work for esp8266 connected to an APA102 144 strip (36 LED’s only for testing). Don’t forget to add a cap between +5v and GND.


Here is a test board I made up, you don’t need the whole lot, just one of the esp breakouts and the LED strip. Here I have 2 controllers (only one on at a time!) and also a voltage regulator, and accelerometer as well.

In case you are wondering, the Esp-01 is connected to the breadboard by this method:

Simply put, you remove the plastic pin spacers with plyers, and now the pins are bendable to a more breadboard friendly configuration. No soldering needed.

Breadboarding Stage

Test breadboards finished, populated and tested working (with LED’s) here.

First the RF controlled laser (nRF24L01+). couldn’t find any lasers in Fritzing parts 🙂

We plan on controlling more than 10 lasers, so made 4 of these on breadboard for the software test:


Next up is the Bluetooth Controller. This pairs via bluetooth to an Android app which then sends the correct on/off signal via RF to the Lasers.

Currently the signal is sent to all the lasers simultaneously, then they work who it was for according to what was sent. The signal is actually sending RGB codes, in case I want to add RGB in later, so should look like this: 1 255 0 0 means laser number 1 is on (or RGB led set to RED 255 full on).

1 0 0 0 would mean laser 1 off. The last 2 numbers are redundant but I am hoping to re-use the code for RGB LED’s at some point, so a couple of wasted bytes is nothing.


Speaking of wasted bytes, there is another byte for the node (the RF24 Arduino library uses the concept of nodes – up to 6 connected to each signaller)

I wanted to have more than 6 lasers and noticed if you define 2 nodes with the same address they both receive the signal. I am pretty sure that if 100 lasers are defined with the same node address they will still all receive the same signal. Then the software I have written can distinguish which laser is supposed to turn on, by parsing the 2nd argument. I am keeping the node byte for possible multi-setups.

Here is the full transmitted protocol:






– using RED value for on/off on the one laser I have connected on the receiver side.

-soon we will have multi-lasers!

Android Development Overview

For Android I started off using MIT’s app inventor:

This was fun and I had some success with a few projects, however as a touch typist I am always more comfortable using the keyboard. As I was already using the amazing Processing IDE for desktop Java apps,  Processing for Android was the next step:

Of course there is no substitute for the real thing, which is what I am using most often now, Android Studio. Processing for Android provides a handy tool for exporting sketches as they are called, so the transistion is pretty seamless. Android Studio is a huge IDE with bells, whistles, mags and stickers attached. Learning how to use this beast is going to take a long time, especially with Google pulling out the rug (ie changing everything with each new release) every couple of months.





ESP8266 Overview

What can I say about the ESP8266? It’s cheap, powerful and I use it to stream images from my phone to my Smart POV Poi.

Currently I am using the ESP-01 version (above) – I connect the esp-01 to the breadboard by this simple hack:

I also use the very capable D1 Mini for development (below).

The code is all Arduino, with FastLED library for led driving. The only issue with ESP8266 is power consumption, the wifi uses far more power than the Atmega328 for example, however compared to the LED strips (144 LED’s at once) it is negligible.




Smart Poi, a new type of graphic poi+




Does everything those other graphic poi can do plus:
Wirelessly transmit images and patterns direct to your spinning poi
Receive SMS messages direct to your spinning poi
Synchronize instantly with multiple other poi
Timeline and Sequence mode control from Android app
Unlimited number of pictures
Animation and *new* dynamic computer generated patterns
Beat responsive


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