Ok, so I like electronic dance music, more specifically Trance. Unfortunately, the US, it's let's just say... a bit behind in that department. If you ever hear such music on the radio, or even in the street, let me know (for instance, in Australia, I heard great Trance in even a waterslide park of all places, and in Europe you can easily get EDM/Trance on broadcast radio). At least that was very true when I wrote this around year 2000.
With San Francisco and San Jose nearby, I've had some opportunities to see some great EDM/Trance DJs. Back in the early 2000's, they sadly played club music in the US that was nowhere close to the hits they had composed and were known for, but over the years, as Trance started becoming more popular, those DJs finally started playing their good tunes in the US too, and maybe from 2004 on, it's only been getting better.
Since 2004 (it's now 2016), the good news is that Trance has grown quite a following in the US, and places like the SF Bay Area, and while Trance has been declared dead a few times in the last 10 years, it's still going strong here, and we're lucky to have at least one or two big Trance parties per year, so yeah! Trance Family SF is definitely strong in the area, I'm thankful of the friends I made there.
Over time, I've seen many of my favorite DJs across the world, whether it was locally, in New York City, Canada, Australia, and of course Ibiza, and at Halloween 2004, I finally attended some great local parties that proved that you could get the good stuff locally too (even if all the artists came from other countries ). Popsicle Halloween 2004 was really the beginning of great music parties in the San Francisco Area, and thankfully things have gotten even better since then
Another year, another EDC. Weather in Vegas was stupid hot (peaks of 115F/46C). I got another chance to try my new Neopixel shirt/pants combo, although getting all the electronics through security in airports, isn't ideal...
Before the first day started, some locations had small markets where you could buy all the rave gear you could need, for those who didn't come prepared :)
and you could spend hours making your bracelets. I shouldn't make fun because I spent even more hours on my LED shirt :)
More rave gear on site if you needed it:
Getting to the festival grounds has become an increasing problem, moving almost 150,000 people to and from the racetrack in a 3H window, or so, has become a real challenge, despite huge amount of busses (the busses themselves had 3H-ish lines in some places).
those folks made full use of carpooling :)
Most people, including me, took shuttles, which took a reasonable enough 1H to get there and back, but they had stupid lines that could take up to 3H. The picture below is the best possible case scenario I saw one day I got lucky. Some people got close to passing out in the heat, and apparently one person died in line on the way back due to a medical issue that was not addressed timely enough :(
While Insomniac had plenty of busses, the loading was not streamlined enough and included a lot of unnecessary waits, making some lines ridiculously long. One day, I took another line to another hotel just so that I could get back to Vegas and then took a short cab back to my hotel:
Anyway, once arrived at the racetrack, things were good. Pictures of the grounds:
it looks less impresive during the day
You could even get weddings:
Many carnival rides, but the lines were long at most of them0
And the ball pit was a fun place to relax :)
Pictures of people and signs:
bad ass tatoo
Other people were lit up, like me:
I remember this guy from last year, awesome costume and makeup
expensive triple row LED shoes
This year definitely had a nice collection of art cars from burning man:
nicely gave me a tour
Of course, EDC was about lots of great DJs, and lots of great DJs it was:
Ruben de Ronde played an awesome set
Tiesto was back, not playing Trance :)
Another solid set from Above and Beyond
Awesome fireworks again:
Day #3 was sadly shorter for me, great lineup, but not enough sleep and I was too tired to enjoy the end:
After PvD, I lamed out, went back to the airport and flew back home to get some much needed sleep. I still had a great time despite this.
What insomniac needs to fix for next year:
- no VIP lines at many shuttle stops, so basically VIP didn't get you in and out any quicker in many places :(
- streamline the bus loading/unloading to improve throughput
- Lines like the Village loading in front of Luxor, were 2-3H in the sun. That's totally not ok.
What they did great:
- the Trance lineup was solid, even if the stage, Quantum Valley, was a lesser one
- the searches were not over the top (I didn't have to empty every single last pocket of everything)
Sure, it's here: https://github.com/marcmerlin/Neopixel-IR (but go to the end of this page for more details).
So, I have 3 versions of the shirt, let's go through them depending on how complex you'd like to go:
Multi Color LED strip, non controllable
It used a 12V controllable dimmer: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MHKCTLE which can simply change the brightness of the LEDs, which are of a set color. I bought the LED strip in Akihabara Japan, but I'm guessing something similar can be found elsewhere.
they are a flat trip that doesn't really like being bent
all the LEDs are in series, so if the chain fails somewhere, nothing lights up beyond the point of failure (which is why I have extra wires soldered on to make redundant paths and get around breakage
I have had some sections of 3 LEDs where one color died
All of the controllers I tried have a dimming function, but it fails to work when I use the fade dimming patterns, which means they are full bright, suck battery and blind others. I've therefore had to add a 2nd voltage regulator where I can just dim the voltage sufficiently so that the current is then also capped by each color string and therefore the brightness is controlled (you cannot limit the global current fed to the LED controller because you don't know whether it's all fed into a single color, or shared amongst 3).
Of course the last thing is that all the LEDs for a color are in series in a single circuit, so you light up all the reds, or all the blues or greens, or none. You can't turn on one LED individuallly. This is where the next solution comes in.
ESP8266/Arduino Controlled Neopixels
To fix the issue of not being able to have custom multi color LED patterns, where each LED/pixel can be controlled separately, the solution is neopixels (aka WS2811/WS2812/WS2812B). Each LED/pixel is controllable separately, which is done by a computer, in this case the ESP8266 can run my own programs to control all the LEDs.
The ESP8266 is a 3.3V based microcontroller for low power use (good when battery powered) while the neopixels are 5V powered, but thankfully the neopixels can use 3.3V signalling from the ESP8266 while being 5V powered to light up properly. The one thing to keep in mind is that neopixels use some power even if they are not lit. In my case 200 neopixels, take about 120mA when they are off, and 4.5A when they are all lit in white on full brightness.
Neopixels are almost infinitely versatile, instead of having them in single line strips like on my shirt and pants, you can also make display matrices out of them: