[bouLED] Drawing on bouLED

During the holidays, I worked (a bit) on displaying an image on bouLED. I first chose the simplest method that came to my mind: the equirectangular projection, used for world maps.

This is a very convenient representation because it’s simple. Storing a rectangular image in memory is straightforward. And, given the position of one LED as a height and an angle around the vertical axis, computing its color is easy: these two values are the actual latitude and longitude.


Computing this angle from the cartesian coordinates, however, involves a trigonometric function, atan2. This is probably the most expensive part of the computation. If we cannot avoid it, we should at least find an efficient implementation of it.

On the other hand, getting the cartesian coordinates of each LED is cheap. The faces of bouLED are flat, so you only need to make additions if you already have the position of the corners of the triangle.
As we chose an MCU with an FPU, using floating point numbers was a no-brainer.

Of course, the first thing I tried to display on the simulation was a world map. Here are the results:

The map is stabilized while the icosahedron rotates
Without the icosahedron rotating
Camera rotating around rotating bouLED

The simulation uses the exact same code as the MCU. On our 400MHz STM32H7, the function that takes a quaternion as argument and computes each LED’s color takes about 10ms to compute. This represents a very small yet sensible lag. The function can still be optimized, but we’ll need to add some smoothing/antialiasing.

Why are the LEDs so big on the gif ? Aren’t they smaller in reality ? Yes they are, but the result is far less convincing with small light points. That means we may need to “smoke” the plexiglass ball to discern the image.

Also, the equirectangular representation makes it easy to draw on the ball, but leads to some distortion. Matthias is currently working on another, possibly faster method.

We should very soon receive the PCBs. By that time, I’ll be playing with the WiFi module.