As you may recall from earlier my earlier Steve and Max’s Awesome Displays blog, my chum Steve Manley and I have been playing with some interesting little rascals we call SMADs.

Each SMAD has 45 tricolor LEDs. To better control the light, we (well, Steve) 3D printed “shells” to go in front of the SMADs. We also added diffusers and facias in front of the shells. We started with 29-segment shells, in which 13 segments have only one LED and 16 segments have two LEDs.

Sad to relate, Steve couldn’t restrain himself from using his 3D printer to also create 45-segment shells in which each segment boasts its own LED. If the truth be told, I wasn’t originally tremendously enthused by this idea because I love the diffused effects that can be achieved with two LEDs in a longer segment. Once I saw the 45-segmnent shells in action, however, I was smitten by the “stained glass” effects that can be achieved.

There are all sorts of things one can do with a SMAD. In my case, I created a couple of pseudo robot heads, each having two SMADs as eyes. One head boasts 29-segment shells, while the other flaunts their 45-segment counterparts.

Pseudo robot head with two 45-segment SMADs (Click image to see a larger version — Image source: Max Maxfield)

In the image shown here, we see the head with the 45-segment shells. In this case, I’m using white to represent the eyeball and black to represent the pupil. I’m going to experiment with different patterns to make it look like the eyes are looking to the left, right, up, and down, etc. Also, to experiment with different color combinations to represent emotions (normal, happy, sad, angry, etc.). I also think I can achieve a blinking effect — so many things to do, but so little time to do them all in (said Max, sadly).

Also, I talked with Steve earlier today, and he suggested creating a new revision of the shells with curved fronts to make them more “eye-like.” He just sent me some preliminary CAD drawings and these curved shells are looking very tasty!

But wait, there’s more, because someone suggested that I create a new head with pan-and-tilt servos associated with each of its SMAD eyes and also pan-and-tilt servos to control the head as a whole. “Holy socks Batman!”

I must admit that I’d vaguely thought of doing something like this deep in the mists of time (well, when I first started work on my existing heads), but I wanted to get something I could play with as quickly as possible. However, now that I’ve seen just how tasty these little beauties appear on a fixed platform, I’m excited to see how they would look if they could move, especially if I can add sensors and get them to respond to my own facial expressions or look where I’m looking or… Oh no! Here I go again… In the meantime, as always, I’d love to hear your comments, questions, and suggestions.