Mobile Spacestate Indicator

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Project: Mobile Spacestate Indicator
State Completed
Members Vicarious, Da Syntax
Description Replace the factory car center console lights with a hackerspace state indicator

I'm the proud owner of a Citroën C1. For a while I've been wanting to replace the orange lights that are installed in my car's center console. At 30C3 I've been given a short RGB LED strip consisting of 8 individually addressable LEDs (WS2812). (Thanks Matt!) Inspired by videos on YouTube where others replaced their center console lights, I decided to create a hackerspace status indicator in my car.



Step 1: Prepare the Raspberry Pi

#!/usr/bin/env python
# coding=utf-8
import json, serial, time, urllib2
ser = serial.Serial('/dev/ttyACM0', 9600)
URL = ""
def get_json():
                con = urllib2.urlopen(URL)
                content =
                hs_json = json.loads(content.decode('utf8'))
                return hs_json
        except IOError:
# print "Network error"
        except ValueError:
# print "Malformatted json"

def print_info(hs_json):
        if hs_json['open']:
# print "Hackerspace is open"
# print "Hackerspace is closed"

while 1:
        jsonret = get_json()

Original sample code is taken from [1]

Step 2: Prepare the Arduino Uno

#include < Adafruit_NeoPixel.h >

#define PIN 6

// Parameter 1 = number of pixels in strip
// Parameter 2 = Arduino pin number (most are valid)
// Parameter 3 = pixel type flags, add together as needed:
//   NEO_KHZ800  800 KHz bitstream (most NeoPixel products w/WS2812 LEDs)
//   NEO_KHZ400  400 KHz (classic 'v1' (not v2) FLORA pixels, WS2811 drivers)
//   NEO_GRB     Pixels are wired for GRB bitstream (most NeoPixel products)
//   NEO_RGB     Pixels are wired for RGB bitstream (v1 FLORA pixels, not v2)
Adafruit_NeoPixel strip = Adafruit_NeoPixel(8, PIN, NEO_GRB + NEO_KHZ400);

// IMPORTANT: To reduce NeoPixel burnout risk, add 1000 uF capacitor across
// pixel power leads, add 300 - 500 Ohm resistor on first pixel's data input
// and minimize distance between Arduino and first pixel.  Avoid connecting
// on a live circuit...if you must, connect GND first.

void setup() {
  strip.begin();; // Initialize all pixels to 'off'

void loop() {
  if (Serial.available() > 0)
    char incoming =;
    if (incoming == 'g')
      setColor(0, 255, 0); //green
    else if(incoming == 'r')
      setColor(255, 0, 0); //red
    else if(incoming == 'b')
      setColor(0, 0, 255); //blue
    else if(incoming == 'p')
      setColor(255, 0, 255); //purple

void setColor(int r, int g, int b)
  for(int i = 0; i < 8; i++)
    strip.setPixelColor(i, r, g, b);;

Original code is taken from [3]

Step 3: Soldering

The RGB LED strip has 3 connections: +5V, DI and GND. Because the short LED strip only has 8 LEDs, it can be powered from the Arduino Uno's 5V directly.

Warnings taken from

Adding a ~470 ohm resistor between your microcontroller's data pin and the data input on the NeoPixels can help prevent spikes on the data line that can damage your first pixel. Please add one between your micro and NeoPixels! We also recommend adding a large capacitor (1000 µF, 6.3V or higher) across the + and – terminals. This prevents the initial onrush of current from damaging the pixels.

Can NeoPixels be powered directly from the Arduino’s 5V pin?

Sometimes. The Arduino can continuously supply only about 500 milliamps to the 5V pin. Each NeoPixel can draw up to 60 milliamps at full brightness. So yes, you can skip the separate DC supply and power directly off the Arduino as long as just a few pixels are used, or more if the colors and overall brightness are low. When in doubt, give the pixels a separate power supply.

Step 4: Installation

Pics or it didn't happen!

RGB LED strip soldered.jpg

Open car center console.jpg

RGB LED strip installed.jpg

Arduino Uno and Raspberry Pi.jpg

Arduino Uno and Raspberry Pi in glovebox.jpg



No network.jpg

Video with two added animations.. a rainbow pattern and knight rider animation: YouTube video

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