Glen riding on the Monarch Crest Trail near Salida, Colorado, August 2013.
Glen is not a bragger, but we are impressed through and through with his impressive work history, experience and awesome projects. We are especially grateful when such highly qualified professionals are willing to share their wisdom with all of us!
Glen Akins is an electrical engineer with 20 years of ASIC, FPGA and embedded design experience working on cutting edge applications including DSP, cryptography, networking, RF modulation and demodulation, digital audio, and embedded programming. Glen has worked for big name companies such as Agilent, Cisco and Scientific Atlanta.
Glen has brought his broad set of skill sets to the hacker and hobby space and created some very unique, creative, and educational projects. Glen is an advocate of open source hardware and collaborative design and thus has done a great of amount of work to formalize documentation, create videos and guides for his projects that allows users to re-create, expand, modify and learn from from his current work and projects.
Glen goes to full distance with his projects, not just hacking things together, but hacking them together with style and robustness in mind. In the end Glen’s projects usually have a nicely designed PCB and final enclosure that houses the sick functionality of his projects and gives them a long term home.
For starters have a look at his LED project in action You can follow up with some of the details below and/or on Glen’s Blog with LED panel part #1 and LED part #2 and his Hackaday Writeup!
Recently Glen has been working with 32x32 RGB LED panels to create some very artistic and creative visual panel arrays. In it’s simplest form Glen’s project drives a single or dual panels, which makes for a nice wall mount or desk visualizer. Expanding on upon this, Glen has taken the panels and put them into arrays including a 6x panel cube, 3x2 flat panel array. His project is highly modular and flexible allowing for many more configurations to be easily implemented. Listed is a summary of attributes of Glen’s LED panel project followed by an explanation of some of the features. Note that this is just a summary and for full details see the resources links below to understand the complete scope of the project. If you want to jump right to seeing the project in action see Glen’s project overview on youtube(single panel) or check out his full overview and documentation on his wiki page.
Glen's LED Panel Features
Based on 32x32 RGB 8” x 8” square LED panels from Sparkfun
Driven by a Beaglebone Black and LOGI-Bone FPGA expansion board
The LED panels can currently be configured in 1 to 6 panel configurations
Highly intensive visualization algorithms are driven using the BBB and FPGA to create a seamless visual display on a single panel or array of panels
Highly expandable BBB and LOGI-Bone platform allow for further expansion to enhance and expand the current functionality or to customize the project to fill a specific need
Mechanical fixtures and frames designed that allow for the panels to be place into large panel arrays. Design files and links for ordering are available so you can get your own.
The display controller consists of a BeagleBone Black and a LOGI-Bone FPGA board. Glen has written drivers for the beaglebone and FPGA and migrated libraries to support visualization algorithms including Perlin noise, many types of dynamic patterns and raw images. He has also ported text rendering libraries to display textual messages.
Glen has designed mechanical fixtures and frames that securely fixes the panel arrays together so that they can be used as permanent installations. There is a full parts list and mechanical files in Glen’s project repository and on his wiki page. Additionally there is facility to mount and power the displays with an external off the shelf power supply making this a solid standalone panel system. 3D printed brackets for assembling the cube are in the works and will be uploaded once the dimensions are verified.
Rumor has it that Glen has plans to hang the cubes from the ceiling to add ambient effects to the room. Talk about showing the disco ball how it’s done. As if the cube was not enough bling for one room, there is the option to put up single, dual or a 2x3 flat panel array on the wall for ambient visual effects or textual updates.
The LED panel project is based on architectures that are very expandable, which would allow many new types of applications to be added the this current base project. We foresee potential add-on functions such as bluetooth, or wifi networking to stream twitter, facebook, SMS text, email updates onto the screen. The addition of sensors or ADC inputs would be a nice addition as well. Sensor inputs would allow the system to analyze the ambient surroundings and dynamically change the effects based upon pre-determined standards. These types of functions would make for a great “smart” ambient visualizer. There are, oh so many, directions that this project could take.
We hope to take on some of this project’s tasks and to expand upon this great open source project by Glen. We thank him for his time and efforts in sharing, educating and making this project available to all of us. In “Glen style”, there is full documentation ranging from parts lists, theory of operation, tutorials on how to guides regarding the full implementation. Be sure to check out Glen’s great documentation of this project by checking out his twitter updates, youtube videos, google plus page, blog, code repositories and his project documentation on the ValentFX wiki.
Want to get involved in Glen’s project or other projects? We all have our own strengths and working in groups allows us to share those strengths. Very cool and widely diversified projects can be created when spreading the load of the project across a group of individuals, each with their own specialties and strengths. ValentFX wants to see these type of projects and applications come to fruition and would encourage users to work together to make these projects a reality. You can contact Glen if you would like to get involved in project. Or you can contact ValentFX if you would like to get involved in any of their projects. Have other ideas or suggestions for projects? Do you have a project you would like to get others involved in? Give us an email.