Disco Ball powered by Drone Battery and Raspberry Pi

by Wolfie, published

Disco Ball powered by Drone Battery and Raspberry Pi by Wolfie Oct 14, 2016


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I designed and built this Disco ball for this Halloween (2016) specifically for my 12y granddaughter. It is fully autonomous and can run by itself. It can also connect to my WiFi network when she is near the house and it will pick up signals from my light show here. It will run continuously on the batteries specified for up to 4 hours.

The battery boxes (forward and reversed) are designed to fit DJI Phantom 3 LIPo Batteries. The pi Plate will accept a Rasperry Pi 2 or 3 and a piece of perf board from Radio Shack. The perf board is to hold a 74AHCT125 from Adafruit. This is a 3v to 5v level shifter needed as a buffer for the GPIO pins on the Raspberry Pi.

The USBbattery box mesh holds a USB battery pack that powers the Rasperry PI.

I welded the frame using suspended ceiling hangar wire from Home Depot. Its covered in chicken wire and covered with ducttape. The final layer is aluminum duct tape to give it a reflective surface.

The LEDs are 288 5v WS2811 pixels.

The Rasperry Pi is running FPP (Falcon Player). The sequence seen in the video was created in xLights and uploaded to the Pi.

Power for the LEDs comes from two 12/24v to 5v buck converters available from Ebay.

Here is a walkthrough of the internal wiring.

And here is a nighttime test with my 12 and 10y granddaughters wearing it:

List of parts:
Drop Ceiling Hangar Wire: http://www.homedepot.com/p/DONN-Brand-12-Gauge-6-ft-Hanger-Wires-50-Pack-207535/100346201
Raspberry Pi 2 or 3: http://www.mcmelectronics.com/content/en-US/raspberry-pi
2x Drone Batteries: http://store.dji.com/product/phantom-3-intelligent-flight-battery
74AHCT125: https://www.adafruit.com/product/1787
12/24v to 5v Buck converter:http://www.ebay.com/itm/182036212948
6x 50 node WS2811 Pixels:http://www.diyledexpress.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=42_44&products_id=179
2x Foil Tape Rolls: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Nashua-Tape-1-89-in-x-50-yd-322-Multi-Purpose-HVAC-Foil-Tape-1207792/100030120
Perf Board: https://www.radioshack.com/collections/maker-parts-kits/products/general-purpose-ic-pc-board?variant=20332061061
USB Battery Pack - Currently Discontinued. Adapt one of the many others.

Additional supplies:
You will also need a WiFi Adaptor (for model 2), uSD card and a usb thumb drive for the Pi. In addition, you will also need some 14ga wire, wire ties, and heat shrink tubing to cover connections. I didn't list the chicken wire as I had it on hand but you will need some of that as well as a couple rolls of duct tape (we all have that on hand right?)

You will need welding and soldering skills to complete the project.

Software (both free):
FPP - http://falconchristmas.com/forum/index.php?board=8.0
xLights - http://xlights.org/

There are two drone battery boxes for this project. One for each side of the ball.

Cost of the entire costume is around $500 give or take what you have access to and what you must buy.


After you print the battery box you will need two male F connectors (quick disconnects, flat). Insert wire through the holes in the bottom of the printed box. Crimp and solder the wires to the lugs. Apply a dab of hot glue to the base of the connector and pull the wire back through pulling the connector into the hole. Twist to align to the blade openings in the battery.

This should help you visualize the battery box:

Fabricate a small fuse holder using two female F connectors and an ATX 7.5a fuse.

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Very good project
did you share the sequence please ?