This is fantastic! Ian, is this yours? If so you should market the light kits! Or at least share the source...
I have a Blade 350QX and my Phantom 1 that don't see much air time, would love to do this to one or both.
The lights are indeed reactive. They have different animation modes which I control from the RC. Stick inputs are shown on the LEDs as well. Flight mode, status warnings are also shown as needed.
A Teensy micro-controller uses a NAZA CAN library to listen to the CAN bus for RC stick positions, flight mode, altitude, battery data, etc. I blacked out the stock LEDs so had to replicate all their status functions e.g. low battery, low satellites, no RC, etc. A direct PWM input from the spare channel on the Futaba RX allows me to control the animation mode. The LEDs are then driven using a library called FastLED.
@ianwood, I think there are laws out there about being too smart. You're leaps and bounds above my abilities and available time. I envy your curiosity and abilities to tinker and build around this platform. Please tell me you're going to invest in a Solo...if not I may start a fund raiser to see what you could do with that platform.
If the SOLO is all it's cracked up to be, I'll be picking one up. I really like the idea of programming a detailed mission to automate getting shots. And it sounds like it will have a healthy amount of developer community support.
Anyway, if you guys are inspired, check out the links I shared. It's a bit of a steep learning curve but if you've done some coding, it's not too hard. It's pretty cool what you can do. The two libraries are essential parts of it. I only implemented what those guys created. They did all the heavy lifting.
The next version of the drone UFO will have better/more animations and will have more feedback to the animations based on speed, altitude, distance, pitch, roll, etc.
I haven't put it to mischievous use yet i.e. terrifying friends and family. Waiting for the right opportunity...