Wireless Lightbars 3

Filled under: Electronics

Date posted: October 20, 2010



Lightbars 3 are prototype lightbars using my next generation Wireless Lightbar Controller.

They consist of two 4 foot long wood planks with four independently controlled RGB sections per bar for a total of eight RGB channels.

The lightbars are a custom fabrication for specific placement and due to a tight deadline everything was made on the fly so this post will be a bit thin.


The Base Station.

The lightbars are wirelessly controlled by this Base Station seen on the right.

On the left is the backup wired controller. It connects to the parent lightbar by a standard RJ45 Ethernet cable.


Inside the Base Station.


The underside. A little messy, but it gets the job done.

Due to the time constraint and the excess of through-hole components laying around it was quicker to just solder everything up on the fly vs. taking the time to machine a circuit board. The MCU is a PIC24K20. There is a MRF24J40 breakout board behind the main board just like the breakout board seen in the next picture.


Inside the main bar houses the ACC (Advanced Color Controller) and a MRF24J40MA breakout board.  Both boards were machined on my CNC router. example

The board on top is the ACC using a PIC18F24K20 MCU clocked at 64MHz and it contains the color changing firmware. The bottom board is the MRF24J40MA breakout board that communicates to the ACC via UART and is connected to the MRF24J40MA by the SPI interface. The next generation lightsbars will have both boards combined into a single board which will eliminate a MCU.

The second lightbar also has a child MCU installed and takes commands directly from the primary ACC via UART.


The MRF24J40MA rocks the socks!

The MRF24J40MA supports Zigbee, MiWi, and proprietary  protocols right out of the box. In this setup the firmware is bareboned  and only to receives broadcasted non-addressed packets without ACK. During an outside range test, successful communication was able to be retained at a distance of ~210 feet.


This is the PONSHOP store front located downtown Fredericksburg, VA where the lightbars are installed.



OK, that’s it for now. I will take better pictures when I have the lightbars back in my possession.