Neopixel Stoplight

3D Printed Neopixel Stoplight

I had been looking for a STL of a stoplight to print for about a year now. I wanted to use the colors of the stoplight to signal to my younger kids when it was ok to wake up in the morning, and when it was time to go back to sleep. My ideal was that I could use Node-Red running on the home server via MQTT to regulate when the stoplight changed colors. Thingiverse’s search is horrible and you could spend days there and not actually get what you are looking for so I never found one that would work. The other day I was searching for some reference STLs of something and accidentally came across a STL for a stoplight. Not one, but three (two remixed from the other).

The first one looked great, good size and decent design. Except it was designed for LEDs and an ATTiny to drive its sequence. The second was a remix of the first. The third was another remix that extended the back casing. The remixes made things easier to print but still relied on LEDs and an ATTiny of sorts. This was a great starting point for me. I have no problems modifying STLs for my purposes. I like to use Tinkercad, not very good with Fusion 360. I downloaded the files and started my own remix. I took elements from all three versions of the stoplight.

I modified the back case to allow a Lolin v3 to be able to mount to it. Then I had to create a cover for the Lolin. I took the front from the original thing, I preferred its one piece to the remixes four piece but I filled in the slot for the little switch. I used the LED panes/covers from the original, unmodified. This was great, I had a front and back a cover, LED panes and the inlay to hold the LEDs. So I printed it all out and went to work. First things first, I tested the LEDs. Like I thought, the LEDs I have are not the super bright ones and running off of the Lolins 3v they just didn’t have enough brightness to shine through very well. No super bright LEDs but I do have some WS2812 neopixels. I hooked one up to test and yes they were perfect. So I modified the LED inlay to hold three neopixels.

I wanted to be able to control the stoplight via MQTT from my server running Node-Red. I used the neopixel example from Adafruit and the default Pubsubclient example for an ESP8266. Mashed the two together and I was able to change the colors on the fly with no problems. I showed off the stoplight to a friend of mine and he loved it. He wanted one for himself, but he doesn’t have a server or anything that runs MQTT. No problem, the Lolin can handle web GUIs. A quick google for a web server on an ESP turned up a nice little tutorial on how to turn on and off GPIO pins from a web GUI. BAM! I took that code and mashed it up with the neopixel code I already had an I was able to get a nice little web page displayed to change the colors of the stoplight. This is awesome.

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Wanhao i3 32bit upgrade

Maker Select 32Bit Upgrade

I decided to make the jump to 32bit printing. I upgraded from a stock Melzi on a Monoprice Maker Select v2.1 (a rebranded Wanhao i3, Cocoon Create). I had no real reason to other than I wanted something to do and I figured this would be a good project, and as always I’m looking for better prints. So why not? I got a BIGTREETECH SKR 1.3 and five (5) TMC2208 v3.0 UART ready steppers. I pulled the trigger and went all in head first after a single night of research. To be honest though when I started this journey there was not a lot of info for doing this just yet, the SKR was still pretty new. What info I have found came mostly from some facebook groups (BIGTREETECH) I am in and a few YouTube videos. But as I type this there is now tons of info available, just most of seems to be directed towards the Ender printers, yay.

 

Things to note up front:

This guide is a long one, I would read this all the way through first it’ll save you a headache. From what I read the TMC2208s don’t support Linear Advance while in stealthchop. It must be disabled and used as spreadcycle over UART instead if you want Linear Advance. The other option is to use a different driver than a 2208 for the extruder. This would get around the Linear Advance issue. It may also be fixed in Marlin further down the line, who knows.

Getting everything setup including the new programming environment was a pain in the ass, hopefully this “guide” will alleviate some of the pain.

I recommend that you DO NOT buy the TFT35 or any TFT (except maybe the new dual mode TFTs). The dual screens can switch between TFT mode and 12864 LCD mode. The TFTs do not have all the functionality of a regular LCD screen. I ordered the TFT35 at first and after two days I sent it back and got a LCD12864 Graphical display instead. Thats the route I am gonna go. The stock screen on a Wanhao i3 is not compatible with the SKR as far as I have been able to find, unless you rewire the plug. The TFT35 was $32 and the LCD12864 was only $12. Heres a good video showing the TFT35.

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