How to make shiftbrite chain? What to buy?


I have been looking for a HOWTO on making a shiftbrite chain

What to buy, Meastro or Arduino and what version? 20-30 shiftbrites…
wiring? , connection boards, for testing on bench first.
How to connect it all?
and what code to make it work?

i have not found all this information, and was wondering if you could help me,
i have not earlier worked with microcontrollers, and not so much electronics.

But i have experience in Java and C#.

suggest me a list of items, and i will buy them :wink:

Regards Reinert


Have you read through the ShiftBrite documentation on Macetech’s site? I think that most of your concrete questions are addressed in there.

Anyway, what I would recommend is the following:

You will need to do some soldering and wiring to get the power into your ShiftBrite chain and to connect everything to the Maestro or Orangutan. Please make sure you understand everything about the instructions before you order, in case there is some thing that you need that I might have overlooked, like a power switch.

As for controllers, the Maestro will get you started, and we have code and wiring pictures online. But writing complicated programs with the Maestro scripting language is challenging. For anything more sophisticated, you will want an real microcontroller, and we recommend the Orangutans - but be prepared to spend a few hours installing all of the necessary drivers and software and trying out some demo programs. What are you planning to build with all of these ShiftBrites?


thanks Paul

wanted something like this.:

A colleague of mine bought the mini maestro and a shiftbrite, i connected them up with power, and tried to get some lights from the shiftbrite. I did not managed to activate the light on purpose (it suddenly became green). The code example was simple, and i did not see clearly what was happening in the code.

I saw a example for shiftbrite with Arduino that look more selfexplanatory. but if you recommend Orangutan i can try that, which orangutan then?

the shiftbrite documentation do not explain how to set it up, just says that you can use for example a mini mastro and shows a code example for arduino.
I do not know what latch , clock and data in does. i am used to use functions in my programming.

If i get this home, i will post in this forum a howto connect each wire, etc …

But if you help me with a simple shoplist i will order today :wink:


Do you have any specific questions about the documentation? There are a few sentences describing each of the I/O lines.

If you have trouble getting something to work with the Maestro and the ShiftBrite, and you want some help with it, please tell us exactly how you connected everything and post your Maestro configuration file!


I dont have it anymore, so i will buy my own… so if you recommend me a controller . i will buy now, ask questions later :wink:

I recommend that you understand what the lines do before you pick your parts. But in general, if you were not able to get the Maestro example working, I would still recommend starting with that and a single ShiftBrite until you do. It might be quite enough for what you want.

By the way, any example written for an Arduino should translate almost directly into an Orangutan program. You might just have to pick different ports if the ones used for the example are used for other things on the Orangutan.



You could go with our Baby Orangutan, which is less than the Arduino Duemilanove and includes motor drivers that could come in handy if you ever want to add motors to this or a future project. If you buy it with a programmer, the cost is only a couple of dollars more than the Arduino Duemilanove. Sample code for using the Orangutan to control a ShiftBrite is available at the bottom of the ShiftBrite product page.

If you want more features out of your controller, you could go with an Orangutan SV-328, which includes an LCD, buzzer, user pushbuttons, a dual motor driver, and more. This board also requires an external programmer; our highest-end Orangutans–the Orangutan SVP and Orangutan X2–do not.

- Ben

I made a shoplist. Will i manage with this?.. any addidtions?

i will buy power supply at home because of your funny american sockets.

Name	                                                                                      quantity	price	tot
#1302 Baby Orangutan B-328 + USB AVR Programmer Combo	                                   1	$31.95	$31.95
#1134 Pololu Carrier with Sharp GP2Y0D810Z0F Digital Distance Sensor 10cm	               1	$6.95	$6.95
#1139 DC Power Adapter Barrel Jack	                                                      1	$0.85	$0.85
#1240 ShiftBrite	                                                                        25	$3.99	$99.75
#1239 6x1 F-F 12" Cable for ShiftBrites and ShiftBars	                                   20	$1.70	$34.00
#1905 0.1" (2.54mm) Crimp Connector Housing: 1x6-Pin 10-Pack	                            20	$0.71	$14.20
#347 350-Piece Wire Kit without Case	                                                    1	$8.95	$8.95
#351 400-Point Breadboard	                                                               2	$3.75	$7.50
#1810 Wires with Pre-crimped Terminals 10-Pack F-F 6" Black	                            1	$2.49	$2.49
#1820 Wires with Pre-crimped Terminals 10-Pack M-F 6" Black	                            1	$2.49	$2.49
Subtotal			$209.13

I notice you’re getting 200 1x6 crimp connector housings (20 ten-packs), but you’re hardly getting any of the wires with pre-crimped terminals that work with this housing. How were you planning on using these housings?

- Ben

I agree with Ben, and I think it is also strange that you list only 20 cables for 25 ShiftBrites. Do you have a wiring plan?

I still think you need to have at least some understanding of the documentation before you order, especially since you tried it once before and failed. It is great that you are enthusiastic about using our parts for your project, but keep in mind that you may find out that these do not work the way you expect or that there is some part you are missing. Anyway, I can’t comment on the distance sensor, breadboard, and wire kits, because I don’t know what you are planning to do with them, but if you have a soldering iron, wire strippers, and so on, AND a power supply capable of supplying say, 2A @ 6V, this should be enough parts to light up at least 20 of the ShiftBrites.


I was thinking use cat5 cable for the housing to make some longer lengths. will that work?

i dont have a wire plan… first plan is to get it to work, have some fun. Just picked the sensor so i could expand it later, maybe put it on my entrance door…

You would need to put your own crimp connectors on the ends of your cat5 wires to use them with the crimp connector housings. We don’t sell the crimp connectors by themselves or any crimping tools (though we are looking into carrying them), so this method probably won’t work so well. You could make your own cables by soldering the wires directly to 1x6 female headers. Also, we should have longer wires with pre-crimped terminals in a few weeks (3’ and 5’), so if you find that the 24" ShiftBrite cables aren’t working for you, you could purchase the longer wires (along with the connector housings) when we have them available and when you have a better sense of what you need.

- Ben

Okay, well that should work, as long as you understand that the cable will not work with the crimp connector housing - you will have to use solder to connect the wires to things. Eventually we hope to make crimp connector pins and a crimping tool available for this purpose.

Please also consider the voltage drop that you will get across long lengths of cable and make sure that you still have at least 5.5V at the ShiftBrites when they are fully on. You might need multiple power supplies along the chain if your lines get really long. Signal propagation will also be a problem at some point, depending on how fast you are toggling the lines.


Ok thanks for all your help, i`ll drop the housings and order a couple more wires,