Syncing two strands of G35 Christmas lights

Lights

For a few years now, the set of Christmas lights most wanted by hackers and makers the world over is the GE G35 color changing set. With 50 individual RGB LEDs controlled by a microcontroller, these light strings can display any pattern of lights with the help of something as simple as an Arduino. The stock light sequences are a little problematic, especially if you’re running more than one string.

[Todd] picked up two G35 strings, and even when they’re turned on at the same time the light sequences slowly go out of sync after a half hour or so. He came up with a great way to make sure these lights stay in sync that requires only a slight modification. To make two light strings stay in sync, it’s simply a matter of disconnecting the data line from one string’s controllers and bridging that connection with the other string.

It’s a very easy modification, but it won’t give you twice as many individually controllable LEDs – for that, you’ll have to use either multiple Arduinos or buy a longer RGB LED strip. Still, having two identical 7×7 LED panels is better than a single panel, so we’ll have to tip our hat to [Todd] for this one.

Cute little amplifier has a tube pre

tube

While you won’t catch us in an argument with an audiophile regarding the sound quality of tube vs. solid state amps, there is a general consensus that tube amplifiers sound much better than their transistorized brethren. Actually building an all-tube amplifier, though, is a bit harder than one built around common ICs – there are transformers to deal with and of course very high voltages. One solution to get the sound of tubes easily but still retaining the simplicity of integrated circuits is a hybrid amp, or a tube preamplifier combined with a solid state power section. They’re easy enough to build as [Danilo] shows us with his hybrid tube amp design (Italian, translation).

[Danilo]‘s design uses two ECC86 for the left and right channels powered by a 12 Volt supply. Each channel is sent through a tube and then amplified by a TDA2005 20 Watt power amplifier. After plugging in a CD player, the result is a clear, warm sound that can put a whole lot of power through a speaker.

Self balancing unicycle built from old scooter

cycle

[Glenn] had an old electric scooter/motorcycle in his garage that had long ago given up the ghost. Without a working battery and motor controller this scooter wasn’t beyond repair, but [Glenn] thought he could use it to build something much, much cooler. What he came up with is a self-balancing unicycle that borrows inspiration from a Segway and other self-balancing robots.

After cutting the drive chain off his scooter, [Glenn] began work on installing a new motor controller and battery. To make this unicycle balance itself, he would need a few gyroscopes and accelerometers provided via an Arduino and Sparkfun IMU shield.

After tuning his PID loop, [Glenn] hopped on his new ride and took it for a spin with the help of a pair of ski poles. It’s much easier to ride than a traditional unicycle and [Glenn] says he’s getting better at riding it.

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