LEDs, Ping Pong Balls & For Loops

I have good challenge on my plate.  I have to come up with a way to build out an addressable LED matrix (somewhere around 1500 pixels give or take) that will be hung from the ceiling of a large corridor.  The installation needs to have interactive abilities - most likely audio and possibly some motion sensing -  and be able to speak with Max/Msp/Jitter, in addition to having a few analog controls and hard-coded animations.  Originally, pixel strips were on the table, though it seems as though we'll want greater artistic control over the contours of the installation, which led strips wouldn't necessarily allow.  Lastly, it needs to be affordable. :)  

This past week I had been writing simple animations for the neopixel strip on my desk and testing different libraries for communicating with the Arduino algorithms via Max, which was a lot of fun and also really frustrating getting the timing right :).  

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Since it seems the strips are off the table though, I started brainstorming ideas this morning for alternative approaches... 

Hanging lightbulbs is one thing, but hanging a bunch of (cheap) bulbs that you can PWM is another.  Through hole LEDs are perfect for the price and capabilities we want, though diffusing them and housing a bunch of them seems like it'd be a pain.  I hadn't ever tried using ping pong balls, and I was surprised at how well they worked.  The downside is the focal point of the clear LEDs I was using, really stood out on the bottom of the ball.  Either getting diffuse LEDs or sanding them would be an easy fix.   


And while I wouldn't use hot glue on anything 'real', it actually wasn't that bad...


There are a few other things to plan for like which microcontroller we'll end up using, multiplexing circuits, current and power consumption, processing speed, and whether or not this will be fully RGB.  Hopefully, I'll be making an actual small scale prototype later this month.