Machine embroidered LED matrix

Our favorite electric textiles expert, [Leah Buechley], put together this machine embroidered LED matrix proof of concept. For the vertical rows, the top thread is conductive, while the thread on the underside (the bobbin) is not. For the horizontal rows, the the thread is swapped and the fabric acts as an insulator between the two layers of wiring. You can see a small brown bunch of thread next to each LED: this is the via to wiring on the backside of the fabric. The matrix is being controlled by a LilyPad Arduino. This is an interesting idea and has the potential to make prototyping wearable projects much faster. Here are two more pictures of the project.

NYC Soldering Championships

[Matt] let us know about the New York City Soldering Championships. They’ll be happening during the Ignite talks on July 29th at 7pm. 25 people will race head to head to assemble a fully functional electronics kit. Participants have to register in advance and are encouraged to bring their own iron. The kit hasn’t been chosen yet so people can’t practice. We hope they at least consider using a few SMD parts just to keep things interesting. Shout out if you’re planning to attend or compete!

[photo: Nick Bilton]

Tennis for Two resurrected

The first video game every created is attributed to physicist William Higinbotham. Tennis for Two is played on an oscilloscope using two controllers. Each one has a knob that controls the trajectory and a button to hit the ball. The fine folks at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories have recreated the game so you can play it on any oscilloscope. An ATmega168 is used to control everything. It takes user input from the paddles and outputs an the X and Y analog signals for the scope. An R-2R style DAC is used for the output stage which gives a 256×256 resolution. Everything is built on top of one of their business card sized project boards-which really shows how useful such a simple board can be. The source code is free and the write up includes plenty of detail. We’d love to see what modifications people come up with since the base game doesn’t even have scoring. There’s a video of EMSL’s system embedded below.

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Turn any motor into a servo with RepRaps new board

[Zach] just let us know about a new board that’s available from the RepRap project. It uses an AS5040 magnetic rotary encoder to measure the absolute position of the rotor of whatever motor you’re using. This is actually pretty damn exciting. Powerful servo motors are expensive, but with one of these, you can use whatever motor you can get your hands on. Big DC motors are cheap, but even used DC servo motors expensive. Best of all, the encoder is open source and you can score a kit version for a paltry $20. Now we can make that 8 horse power servo…