Vertigo has been an event enjoyed by Washington University engineers for many years. In the beginning, the dance floor only lit up randomly when plugged in. The DJ that has always been part of the event always talks about how great the floor was in the past when it lit up to the beat of the music. Since the floor was first built in 2005 and updated in 2011, all the source code has been lost, and it is unknown how the floor was originally designed to work (Fitzpatrick). All of the software designs and improvements will therefore be original. A revamp of the famous dance floor would add to the excitement of the event and its tradition.

An LED, or Light Emitting Diode, is “a semiconductor diode that emits light when a voltage is applied to it and that is used especially in electronic devices (as for an indicator light)” (Led).

“Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) is an interface bus commonly used to send data between microcontrollers and small peripherals such as shift registers, sensors, and SD cards. It uses separate clock and data lines, along with a select line to choose the device you wish to talk to” (Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI)).

The floor is made up of 32 tiles, each 2-foot by 2-foot in area and 4 inches tall. The frame of the tile is made of plywood, and the top (the part that is danced on) is made of ¾ inch thick acrylic, which diffuses the light from the LEDs so that the whole tile glows evenly rather than having spots of light from each individual LED. Each tile contains 16 RGB LED tiles for 48 total LEDs (16 red, 16 green, 16 blue) per tile. Each tile also has its own 5V power supply to power all of its LEDs as well as the LED driver that will be part of each tile. The tiles are connected to each other by Ethernet in series with each other, a pattern that is called daisy-chaining.

Although much of the current hardware was not changed in the renovation, one major drawback of the previous system is that the 16-bit LED driver could only light up 4 out of 16 of the LEDs at one time, so the dance floor only lit up at 25% of the brightness that it’s capable of. The new design adds more LED drivers to each tile such that maximum achievable brightness of the LEDs is increased.

Another drawback to the previous hardware is that the broken wires and LEDs throughout the tiles kept the dance floor from lighting up to its fullest potential. The new design fixes the broken hardware.

On the software side, since all of the source code was lost, the dance floor LEDs just flashed randomly when plugged in, which is not nearly as exciting to the viewer as if there were some pattern to the LED lighting. This is the main drawback to the previous design and the motivation for the primary objectives of the project. The new design has the dance floor LEDs light up in a pattern that is satisfying to the viewer and more engaging than random flashing.