Etching your own PCBs

When [Adr1an] wrote in to share a link to his PCB etching tutorial he mentioned that he knew we had already covered a ton of these guides. He’s absolutely right, not only have we featured a great number of them, but we also wrote our own quite a while ago. But that doesn’t mean we ignore them when they come in on the tips line. In fact, we read all of them that have something to offer and are pleased to feature the ones that are well presented… like this one!

[Adr1an] went all out with his writeup. He not only covers all of the elements that go into this, but discusses where to purchase them and his thoughts on how he arrived at the choice. He’s using the toner transfer method and prefers Brother branded toner for its coverage and resistance to over-etching. He prints on HP Everday Photopaper, then uses a laminator to transfer to the copper clad board. For this guide he used 2oz copper but prefers 1oz copper as it etches faster. His etchant of choice is Ferric Chloride, which can be ordered as a dry powder. He uses the direct etch method of loading etchant into a sponge an applying that to the board.

The board he makes in the guide looks great, and it only took him 28 minutes!

Beer dispenser talks to customers, announces office parties via Twitter

arnie-intelligent-beer-dispenser

Just about the only thing better than beer is free beer.

Staff at the Arnold Worldwide ad agency are free to imbibe in the office’s lounge area, but a few employees thought that it would be pretty awesome to have their beer stash offered up by a vending machine. Using a grant that the company sets aside for “creative projects”, they built [Arnie], the interactive beer dispensing machine.

The machine was stocked with company-branded brews, and each employee carries an RFID key fob pre-loaded with beer credits. When the urge hits, staff members swipe their fob in front of the machine and select their preferred drink from the large, front-mounted touch screen. [Arnie] speaks with his customers and also uses Twitter to announce parties in the making, when a handful of bottles have been vended over a short period of time.

The project was a great use of money if you ask us, and we think that every office should have one of these babies in-house.

Continue reading to see a short video of how [Arnie] came to be.

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A Trojan Horse full of music

With a Sound + Vision exhibition coming up, the folks over at Seaweed Factory decided they needed something big. Somehow they landed on building a giant pinata that responds to being walloped with a stick by playing MIDI notes. The end result is called the Trojan Chorus. Instead of Greek soldiers, though, the pinata is filled with electronics and candy.

The pinata was constructed out of cardboard and more colored tissue paper than we care to imagine. The horse stands seven feet tall and was built with a little more structural integrity than a normal pinata. Check out the ‘making of’ video for the pinata here.

From what we can tell, the electronics are 24 contact microphones implanted all over the inside of the pinata. Impacts on these contact mics are recorded by a small dev board, transcribed to serial data, and sent to a computer. You can check out the electronics in action right here. A horse neighing MIDI notes may sound fairly weird, but similar setup could be added to make the Trojan Chorus cry out in pain.

[Read more...]

Making a privacy monitor from an old LCD

privacy-screen

[dimovi] had a spare LCD monitor sitting around and thought it would be great to convert it into a “privacy” monitor.

The process is simple enough for anyone comfortable with disassembling electronics. He took apart the monitor’s plastic frame, cutting out the polarized film with a utility knife. Once the film was removed, he spent some time removing the film adhesive from the glass panel using a combination of Oops cleaner and paint thinner.

He reassembled the monitor, which now shines a bright white regardless of what is actually being displayed on the screen. He removed the lenses from a pair of theater 3D glasses, replacing the plastic with the film he removed from the monitor.

Now, [dimovi] is the only one who can see what’s he is doing on his computer, which is just the way he likes it.

While there’s not a lot of magic going on behind the process, we think it’s a neat way to reuse an old monitor.

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