ESPixelStick – An E1.31 WiFi Pixel Controller
What is it?
A cost effective solution for driving a universe of pixels via E1.31 over WiFi. The controller itself fits in 1″ thin wall PVC to enable embedding with the fixture its controlling.
From a hardware perspective, the ESPixelStick is a pixel driver motherboard for the ESP8266 ESP-01 WiFi module. It provides proper power regulation for the module, a 5V tolerant programming interface, 5V buffer drive for the data line, configurable 5V/12V pixel support, fusing, and power connectors suitable for 5A of current.
From a software perspective, it is an E1.31 sACN (Streaming ACN) pixel controller that connects over a standard (802.11g/n) WiFi network. The firmware is open source and developed in the ESP8266 Arduino environment. It provides a web based configuration front-end and currently supports WS2811 / WS2812 pixels. The web based configuration is mobile friendly and makes configuration a breeze, thank to John Lassen’s web framework.
How do I use it?
Pixel and power wiring is straight forward and simple. Just make sure to set the jumper to 5V or 12V based upon your power source. The programming interface consists of 3 wires: Ground, Serial Transmit, and Serial Receive. Using a USB to serial breakout, simply connect the grounds together, T to TX on your adapter, and R to RX on your adapter. Any USB to serial adapter that exposes the Ground, TX and RX connections should work, provided your system has the drivers for it. CP2102 and FTDI (legit) based adapters shouldn’t require drivers to be loaded if you’re on Windows.
Flashing and Configuration
Flashing is done via the Arduino IDE with the ESP8266 board add-on. You’ll need to have the board powered as no power connections are made via the programming connection. To enter flash mode, reset the ESPixelStick using the RESET button, while holding down the PROG button – <Press PROG><Press / Release RESET><Release PROG>. At the top of the ESPixelStick sketch, you can define your default ssid and passphrase for your WiFi access point. The ESPixelStick will report its status and IP via the Arduino Serial Monitor as it connects to your network. Further configuration can be done via the web interface once the ESPixelStick is connected to your network.
Making it flash lights!
If you’re new to lighting control or DMX, I recommend doing a little reading on E1.31 – sACN (Streaming ACN) which is the “DMX over Ethernet” standard. diychristmas.org and doityourselfchristmas.com are excellent resources to get you started in lighting control. Vixen 3 and xLights are two free and open source applications I recommend looking at to get you started in sequencing. Both are actively being developed and offer different angles on light sequencing.
Here are 4 modules being tested (one attached to each pixel column), driven by Vixen 3
Where can I get it?
Kits are sold out for the 2015 season, but more will be available in early 2016.
Latest Firmware: https://github.com/forkineye/ESPixelStick/releases
Latest V1 Manual: ESPixelStick Assembly and Usage