We made it on to a blog at University of California as well as MAKE . A comment on that site raises the point that we were not the originators of this idea. It is not a secret that MIT did this first -- we have a link to their site on the left and have mentioned this wherever appropriate (including the first post of this blog). The reason we've received so much publicity is that our school's media services division released a press release to all of their contacts to get the word out. Unfortunately, even though it was mentioned several times to various interviewers, the press-release appears to lack explicit credit to the students at MIT who pioneered this design. Also, the STL Post-Dispatch photographer did not have the opportunity to conduct an interview and as a result there are several inconsistencies in the photo caption seen in the paper and on cnn.com.
We may not have conceived the original idea but that does not discredit the hundreds of hours we have invested in this project, nor does it tarnish the giant working dance floor we ended up with. MIT, our helpers, Thomas (Germany) and Clint should all be commended for the effort it takes to get something like this going. The fact that, currently, there are only three dance floor projects of this type other than MIT's in progress speaks to the size this undertaking really is.
That said, we have made what we consider design improvements that make our floor uniquely our creation, even if the underlying circuit boards are of the same design. We made ours expressly portable in that two PCB's are integrated into a frame of concert staging that locks to additional frames for stability. We built the floor in an unused room on an upper level of one of the engineering buildings and were able to transport the floor down 4 levels and into the venue for Vertigo without too much trouble. Our custom software package introduces client/server interaction that gives flexibility in operation (like wireless or remote control), an easy-to-use playlist for loading and playing animations (as well as on-the-fly scrolling text) and other features. We also put in time to debug and stabilize power supply issues that result from the PCB design and high amp draw from the LED's.
Our first edition of this floor concept will be used in our lounge's window to entertain passersby, in Computer Science II (CSE132) as a final project for beginning CS students, and, of course, for more parties.
Props to MIT for starting this trend and getting everyone interested!
This is only the beginning for Wash U; we have learned much from the creation of Version 1 of the VDF. Spending hundreds of hours creating it has brought to light many ways to make it more reliable, to make it faster to build, and to create even cooler patterns and interactions.
We will be refining the concept further as time goes by. Stay tuned for the latest!