Fadecandy video updates

I’ve been super busy lately, working on a new installation. I’m excited to document the process more at some point, but for now I have some videos to share with new LED effects I’ve been working on:

Fadecandy on the Making Embedded Systems podcast

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Elecia White on the Making Embedded Systems podcast:

Micah Elizabeth Scott (@scanlime) came to talk about Fadecandy, a really neat way to control smart LEDs (NeoPixel, AdaFruit’s term for the WS2812). The conversation ranged from beautiful LED control algorithms and open source embedded projects to triangle tessellations, art, and identity.

You can get the full podcast on embedded.fm, iTunes, or download the MP3.

Standalone WiFi Fadecandy server

This week, nemik posted a package for OpenWRT that makes it really easy to run the Fadecandy server on a cheap battery-powered WiFi router, the TP-LINK TL-MR3040. I just got my MR3040 in the mail, and I recorded a quick video demo:

(Video on YouTube.)

Nemik writes:

I recently discovered Micah’s awesome Fadecandy USB controller for WS281x LED pixels. One of the things that I like the most about it is its “fcserver” to control LED pixels using Websockets. That is fantastic, but all implementations I’ve seen have people running it on a RaspberryPi or regular PC.

I wanted to create a sort of “stand-alone” and embedded version of this using less expensive TP-Link routers, running OpenWRT. My current favourite of these is the TP-LINK TL-MR3040 but it would work just as well with the infamous WR703n or others; so long as they have USB support.

Read more and download the binaries on Nemik’s blog!


Presentation at GAFFTA Creative Code Meetup VII

I gave a talk at the GAFFTA Creative Code Meetup back in November. It was a brief overview of my recent work including Zen Photon Garden, High Quality Zen, the Ardent Mobile Cloud Platform, and Fadecandy.

It includes a live demo of Fadecandy, starting at 18:43.

Creative Code Meetup VII- Micah Elizabeth Scott from GAFFTA on Vimeo.

Fadecandy Controller available from Adafruit


The Fadecandy controller (initially announced here) is a new USB interface board for making more expressive art installations using the widely available WS2811 “NeoPixel” LED strips. It controls up to 8 strips of 64 LEDs, and it includes a unique dithering algorithm to help you quickly get the best quality color from each of your LEDs.

I’m happy to announce that the Fadecandy controller board is now being manufactured and sold by Adafruit! You can get your own from the Adafruit store.

What can you do with it? Here’s an LED triangle running a Processing sketch based on chaotic gravitational attraction:

Or make something a bit larger! The Ardent Mobile Cloud Platform is a Burning Man project using a Raspberry Pi and five Fadecandy controller boards:

Fadecandy: Easier, tastier, and more creative LED art


I’ve been working on a project lately that I’m really eager to share with the world: A kit of hardware and software parts to make LED art projects easier to build and better-looking, so sculptors and makers and multimedia artists can concentrate on building beautiful things instead of reinventing the wheel. I call it Fadecandy.


Fadecandy isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s an easy way to get started and an advanced tool for professionals. It’s a collection of simple parts that work well together:

  • Firmware that uses unique dithering and color correction algorithms to raise the bar for quality while getting out of the way of your creativity.
  • Open source hardware for connecting cheap and popular WS2811 based LEDs to a laptop, desktop, or Raspberry Pi over USB.
  • The Fadecandy server software, which communicates with one Fadecandy board or dozens. It runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS, and on embedded platforms like Raspberry Pi.
  • The Open Pixel Control protocol, a simple way of getting pixel data from your creative tools into the Fadecandy server.
  • Libraries and examples for popular languages. We have Python and Processing already, with Javascript and Max coming soon.
  • And of course, the LEDs themselves! Fadecandy works with popular WS2811/WS2812 LEDs available from Adafruit, SparkFun, and AliExpress. Each controller board supports up to 512 LEDs, arranged as 8 strips of 64 each.

fadecandy-diagramFadecandy is designed to enable art that is subtle, interactive, and playful, exploring the interplay between light, form, and shadow. If you’re tired of seeing project after project with frenetic blinky rainbow fades, you’ll appreciate how easy it is to create expressive lighting with Fadecandy.

Fadecandy is battle-tested. The firmware was originally developed to run the Ardent Mobile Cloud Platform, a Burning Man project which used 2500 LEDs to project ever-changing rolling cloud patterns onto the interior of a translucent plastic sculpture. It used five Fadecandy boards, a single Raspberry Pi, and the effects were written in a mixture of C and Python. The lighting on this project blew people away, and it made me realize just how much potential there is for creative lighting, but it takes significant technical drudgery to get beyond frenetic-rainbow-fade into territory where the lighting can really add to an art piece instead of distracting from it.


Fadecandy is designed to be really easy to build good-looking effects with. Here’s a really simple example of what you can do with only a few lines of Processing code:

OPC opc;
PImage dot;
void setup()
  size(640, 360);
  dot = loadImage("dot.png");
  // Connect to the local instance of fcserver
  opc = new OPC(this, "", 7890);
  // Map an 8x8 grid of LEDs to the center of the window
  float spacing = height / 16.0;
  opc.ledGrid8x8(0, width/2, height/2, spacing, 0);
  // Put two more 8x8 grids to the left and to the right of that one.
  opc.ledGrid8x8(64, width/2 - spacing * 8, height/2, spacing, 0);
  opc.ledGrid8x8(128, width/2 + spacing * 8, height/2, spacing, 0);
void draw()
  // Change the dot size as a function of time, to make it "throb"
  float dotSize = height * 0.6 * (1.0 + 0.2 * sin(millis() * 0.01));
  // Draw it centered at the mouse location
  image(dot, mouseX - dotSize/2, mouseY - dotSize/2, dotSize, dotSize);

You can help!

Fadecandy is still in its infancy. I’ve been building it as fast as I can, but what it really needs now is community. This is you!

Ways you can help:

Where is this going? I’m currently polishing the software, making examples, and writing documentation. I have a small number of prototype boards at the moment, but my plan is to do a larger manufacturing run soon and retail the boards online. Maybe this will be a Kickstarter, or maybe they’ll show up in popular hobbyist electronics shops. Time will tell, and I need everyone’s help.

Slides from Arse Elektronika 2013

2013-10-02 15.39.19

Arse Elektronika is a yearly conference that focuses on the intersection of sex and technology. It’s almost too San Francisco, but it actually comes from the weird Austrian art group monochrom. And it’s a lot of fun!

This year I was invited to give a talk on my sonar-controlled vibrator. I even won a really weird award for it, the Golden Kleene!

Slides from the talk are now available: