Clearance Sale!

Come on down to Crazy Garrett's, the boss is away and the deals are government agents trying to control my mind! Ahem. Well, the deals are real enough...up to 60% off on some products.

The main reason for the sale is that we have some extra inventory of A6281-based products. Back when we started this business in 2008, there weren't many options for controllable RGB pixels...hard to believe today, but a $5 chainable RGB pixel with PWM was a pretty good deal back then. Times have changed, and the A6821 chip has been discontinued by Allegro. So we've decided to move this last batch of inventory out the door where it'll do some RGB blinky good rather than keeping our stock shelves from floating away.

In addition to the ShiftBrite and MegaBrite products, we're also discounting the OctoBrite DEFILIPPI even though the TLC5947 is still available. It's a good chip that can handle up to 30V strings of LEDs with 12bit PWM, but aside from special applications it seems that 5V and 8 bits are blinky enough. We're also discounting all of our 6-pin cables! These are made for ShiftBrites, but are just 6x1 0.1" female header cables...they are pretty useful for many tasks around the lab.

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Submitted by Garrett on Tue, 02/02/2016 - 14:08.

LED Shades at Make: Volume 43 Wearables Meetup

Make recently held a meetup at their new makerspace located in the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. The theme was the celebration of their new volume of Makezine, Volume 43, the Wearables issue. We wish we could have been there, but were thrilled to see this video of our LED Matrix Shades putting in a major appearance thanks to Tenaya Hurst!

Submitted by Garrett on Sat, 01/24/2015 - 01:40.

Deep discounts on ShiftBrites and MegaBrites!

We've put ShiftBrites, Headerless ShiftBrites, and MegaBrite 90's on sale:

ShiftBrite 2.0

The ShiftBrite 2.0 is a redesign of the very first macetech product. It's a bright RGB LED module that uses a simple shift register control method to output 30-bit color. Most RGB LED solutions can only do 255 brightness levels per color; the ShiftBrite can do 1023. It has a sturdy mounting hole pattern, and 6-pin connectors that match our cables for trouble-free mounting, hookup, and maintenance.

Headerless ShiftBrite 2.0

The Headerless ShiftBrite 2.0 is the same as the regular ShiftBrite, except that the headers have been left off for more flexible hookup options. You can solder your own headers (straight or angled), another 0.1" spaced connector, or just use wires. This is a good option for tighter spaces.

MegaBrite 90  Read more»

Submitted by Garrett on Tue, 07/22/2014 - 10:15.

240 Pixel WS2812 Array

My friend Scott randomly dropped by the macetech LLC lab up here in Pullman, WA. He brought a cool thing to show off...a big array of 60px/m RGB pixels using the WS2812 LEDs. It's very bright in person and I was impressed with the matchup of the 60px/m LED spacing and the fluorescent lighting louver grid. I've definitely used the grid in a lot of projects, but never made that connection! His controller uses a custom WS2812 library running on a Digilent chipKIT Max32 with plenty of CPU power to spare.

Submitted by Garrett on Sat, 07/19/2014 - 00:11.

Hacking the RGB Shades

We've got a new article over on Makezine today, showing how I added an audio-detection circuit to both the RGB Shades and the LED Matrix Shades. The result was REALLY cool and finally used the extra pins I'd made available on both designs. Audio detection is just the beginning...I have a few more ideas for sensors to add to LED Shades, and it would be great to see your suggestions. They might make it into another video!

Anyway, head on over the Makezine to see the full article: Hacking the Macetech RGB Shades

Submitted by Garrett on Fri, 07/18/2014 - 23:15.

LED Shades V0.1 Open Sourced

Back in 2012, in the few weeks preceding Maker Faire Bay Area, I was excited about a new secret project. We had the macetech LED Lounge again, but this was a way to take the party with you. Wearable LED slotted shades with a built-in Arduino-compatible controller!

They were a huge hit, both at Maker Faire Bay Area and Maker Faire New York. It was impossible to walk down the street in Manhattan without getting comments and questions every few seconds.

However, the first LED Shades were nothing more than prototypes. They were hurriedly designed. Didn't have much resolution, didn't have folding hinges or cables with connectors, the battery was taped onto the side, and so on. The biggest problem was one that didn't show up for months, but claimed all but one of our prototypes (which still works to this day). The problem was that the LED driver ICs along the top edge of the PCB would crack internally due to flexing stress while being worn.

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Submitted by Garrett on Wed, 07/02/2014 - 23:12.

LED Matrix Shades Have Arrived!

A quick introduction: LED Matrix Shades are a very cool piece of wearable technology that integrates a fully hackable Arduino-compatible processor with an LED matrix you can see through. They are the ultimate attention grabber at social events, and inspires curiosity among technology enthusiasts of all ages. Every function can be reprogrammed by the user, and there are even places to solder your own circuits and sensors.

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Submitted by Garrett on Sun, 06/29/2014 - 00:56.

Maker Faire 2014 and RGB Shades

Kickstarter for RGB Shades:


The big event of the maker movement, O’Reilly Bowl *cough* I mean Maker Faire Bay Area 2014, happened last weekend (May 17th and 18th). As with most words used to describe Maker Faire, “happened” is a little insufficient. It’s a tremendous and complicated event that requires a massive effort from everyone involved…the O’Reilly Maker Faire team, the Maker Shed, the sponsors, the performers, the speakers, the exhibitors, and the event staff. And one more group that I didn’t fully appreciate until this year…the attendees (let’s call them participants). This was the first year at Maker Faire Bay Area that I was not an exhibitor, and instead wandered the exhibits and crowds. It was amazing and exhausting, just as much as if I’d been running an exhibit table.

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Submitted by Garrett on Mon, 05/26/2014 - 14:53.

Dallas Makerspace

Dallas Makerspace Laser Cutter

In the SF Bay Area, I had access to a number of places (TechShop, Noisebridge, Hacker Dojo) to work on projects that weren't appropriate for my garage or a spare bedroom. Tools like engine lathes and laser cutters are expensive to own, bulky, and require the proper infrastructure. It's also good to have a place to meet with like-minded people and share ideas. I just moved to Dallas and hoped to find something similar.

The nearest TechShop is about three hours away, in Austin. So I decided to check out the local Dallas Makerspace.

They seem to hold a middle ground between a typical hackerspace and a corporate-run workshop like TechShop. Hackerspaces usually attempt to remain completely open to the public, and shy away from creating rules whenever possible. This leads to a more intense environment where amazing things can rise from the chaos, but often leads to conflicts and drama. TechShops have a very strong divide between members and employees, and require adhering to a set of rules and certifications in order to use the equipment. Dallas Makerspace seems to have achieved an interesting midpoint where the feeling of members creating the space is still there, but many problems are forestalled by a small set of rules regarding the space, member behavior, and equipment.

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Submitted by Garrett on Sun, 01/12/2014 - 21:58.

LEDs and Tacos: macetech's new home in 2014

Last month, we announced that we'd be moving from California to Texas. I'm happy to report that the move was successful, and macetech is already resuming operations and shipping orders!

Most of the macetech activities are now located in Garland, TX; a city on the eastern outskirts of Dallas. We're hoping that the Midwestern location will improve shipping speeds for more of the USA, while reducing operating costs. We'll miss Foster City's great weather and proximity to Maker Faire, but enjoy some truly excellent brisket taco shops! All without having to give up In-N-Out.

We rented a 26' moving truck and did the driving with the help of our friends Matt and Karl. Our route took us over I-10 to avoid bad weather and some of the it was, the truck struggled to maintain 35mph over some of the steeper hills. The total route was about 1850 miles and took us three days of driving. The only adventures were a radiator leak in the Jeep, and an RV driver at a truck stop who tried to convince us it was necessary to lay one of the fuel nozzles on the ground if we didn't have two diesel tanks. Mostly hours of intense boredom with occasional moments of weirdness.

No Instagram filter there, just an old Polaroid camera and expired film.

We're unpacking the macetech store stock and prototyping lab, and expect to have plenty of new and exciting projects to show off soon. First, the main question everyone has: yes, we'll be making more LED Shades. We'll also be increasing the selection of colors, and have other improvements and variations in the pipeline.

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Submitted by Garrett on Mon, 12/30/2013 - 01:24.