Alfa LEDs

Alfa Romeo RGB Grill LEDs with Bluetooth

Update (9-12-2022)

I am now selling this for $99 + $4.99 Shipping
-Comes 12V to 5V adapter and 3 feet of wire for wiring to Car’s 12V supply
-Comes with iOS and Android Apps. 
They will ship starting: 9-30-2022
Order from the PayPal buttons below and let me know if you have any questions.

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The Look

I wanted to make my new Alfa stand out from the couple others I’ve seen round rarely. As if the front end of the Giulia isn’t beautiful enough. It seemed like it was a necessary and obvious mod.

The Guts & Brains

I made this 49 LED strip out of SK6812 addressable RGB LED strips. Similar to the common WS2812b strips but brighter and with a true white. Check them out here on amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FVRR4KL/. I also used an Arduino Nano clone that has its own USB to serial chip built-in. Another new key component is the HC-05 serial Bluetooth module. It’s an older V2.0+EDR version of Bluetooth but it has great range. The only downside is that iOS/Apple devices don’t support 3rd party Bluetooth unless it’s made for iPhone/iPad or its the newer Bluetooth 3.0/4.0+LE

The Interface

I wanted to create a menu system and be able to hit buttons to ascii characters to change the light show modes. So far I have the default/power on mode of pure white. Then by Bluetooth you can choose “Demo” to change to an animated demo reel that comes with the LED library FastLED on the Arduino. Then I have added a Knight Rider mode. Even a special Alfa Knight Rider mode that doubles up the “V” in the grill. And finally, I have a “Fire” mode that looks like flames.

There is a menu display when you first connect with a Bluetooth terminal app on Android. I use, “Bluetooth Terminal HC-05”. It lets you assign rows of buttons to macros of strings of text to send to the device. It also allows to to see the available options in the device and you can enter, “H” to see the menu at any time.

The Code

The code is still in progress, feel free to check it out on GitHub. I hope to be updating and completing code so I can add this to my car permanently.

The Bugs & Improvements

I hope to add a few more modes and brightness control very soon. Currently the only bug in the system is the Bluetooth communication is talking to the Arduino over software serial. There are a lot of timer interupts between the FastLED library to control the lights that sometimes (30% of the time) the Bluetooth message to change a mode is missed and a different ascii character comes through. This means you have to enter the command or hit the button a couple, few times. This is easily fixed by changing over to the hardware serial UART. I have not yet done this but feel free to make a pull request for an alternative sketch.

I also have plans to design and print a circuit board to easily house the Arduino, Bluetooth module, connectors for lights and power. I have already 3D printed a couple cases to protect the guts on the road.

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USB Distance Sensor and Software

I have created a simple distance sensing device with an Arduino Mega and an ultrasonic distance sensor to measure up to 5 feet. Also it is communicating to the host computer via USB at 115200 baud which allows for fast data updates and precision.

Below is a mockup of the software to customize and extend the uses of the device. Do anything from scroll through the web with hand gestures or create an invisible tripwire in your room or doorway. You can even use it to count customers entering your store or how many times your front door opened throughout the day.

Use if for real world data analytics or to improve energy efficiency around the house .

I plan to sell my distance device for a low price to get it into people’s hands and to cover my time in the software. I believe the software to this product will create the most value to average customers of all ages. My price point in mind is $24 on a production scale. But if you have a useful idea for this that has distance measuring needs I would create a custom one with some basic software for $50. It can be expanded on and it’s open source so all the code is available online.

Over the weekend my friends and I had a chuckle by creating a tripline to play randomized fart sound effects. Anything someone would grab a beer in the kitchen they would get a new fart noise. Goofy but a good example of the many uses it can serve. My favorite is scrolling through web pages when reading articles online. You can control volume or skip the song on iTunes. My devices is like a one dimensional Leap Motion. A Leap motion can see your hands in 3D and can do endless number of gestures. to control your computer, interface with software or play guys with your hands being the controllers.

Checkout the Store to see if it pops up in the near future. 😉

Goodbye for now.
-Joe

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