When POVs first appeared in advertising panels i used to wonder how are the characters diplayed. Seemed like magic. Later on i found out its because of our eyes’ inertia. Where you needed a large number of LEDs to display a message, now you just need to spin a few LEDs. The rotation speed must be fast enough to display at least 10 frames per second, complex graphics may require a higher value between 15 and 30 fps, movies usually have between 24 and 30 fps.
This project will show you with great details how to build such a device. It is not an easy build, it takes a fair amount of tweaking to get it to work but the results can be spectacular. The developers of this project decided on a modular design, putting an emphasis on interactivity. In the end they came up with a very customizable POV that can display images you upload wirelessly and that you can manage in real time.
The microcontroller used is the Atmega644, leds are driven with the MAX6971 IC and Xbee modules provide the wireless serial communication between the POV and the PC from which you upload the image. A GUI written in Java makes this task easy for you.
The LEDs are place on a different PCB than the rest of electronics, this way it can be easily upgraded to a 3D version. The motor part needs some attention because you will have to carefully balance the LED board, you will deal with a lot of vibrations and the speed of rotation can be quite dangerous. Also there will be some tweaking involved when you will build the brushing system to power up the LEDs.
The motor has a separate power supply so that the main PCB won’t pick up noise. A HALL sensor is used to count the rotations and give the position of the LED board. When real time management of the display is not desired, the POV can use the picture stored in its EEPROM.
In order to power it, you will need a 9v power adapter that can deliver at least 1.1A for the electronics boards. Since the motor is powered from different source, you will need to meet your motor’s requirments. The one used in the project had its own 5V/2.5A power supply.
The cost for building this project is a little higher than 50$ and you can further reduce that if you already have some of the needed parts . All schematics and code are found in the project, below you can see the POV in action.