Personal Blog – Dushyant
Ramblings . . . .

Digital Pin-Art – WIP

I’m planning to create a digital “pin-art” board – something similar to the photo below.


Though not planning a life-size one. Planned specifications:

  1. 64×64 matrix – 2′ x 2′ dimensions
  2. Transparent acrylic “pins” with black acrylic board – .3 mm pins with a spacing of 10 mm center to center
  3. RGB LEDs behind the display
  4. Wireless connectivity so that new images can be sent to the board

The sheer number of pins – 4,096 of them, creates an extremely challenging problem. Initial thoughts include:

  1. Using a 16 x 16 LED matrix so that 4×4 pins are lit using one LED
  2. Using 64 stepper motors to drive each pin in a row – these steppers would move down the rows fixing each row at a time.
  3. Creating a small program using processing to convert images into 64×64 grayscale image – where the brightness would provide the depth of the pins – brighter the pixel – higher the pin. This would communicate with the display via bluetooth to send the image.

The problems I see with this approach are:

  1. Cannot create animations – once an image has been created – it needs to be reset manually – I was thinking of sticking washers behind each pin and using some kind of electromagnet to reset the display – but have no idea if that would work. The plan now is to use springs on each of the pin and a locking mechanism to fix the pins once they are pushed.
  2. Controlling 64 motors and ensuring their position is correct every time
  3. How to deal with power failures mid-way
  4. Budget – I’m planning to spend ~10k INR ($175)

I’m sure there would be many other issues once I start.

Comments? Thoughts? Suggestions?

One Response to “Digital Pin-Art – WIP”

  • You could use metal pins and solenoid actuators. You could do it on a smaller scale with pins of length say 2 cms and low power.

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