Mood lamp/notifier uses neat modular PCB design


Not only does this mood lamp which [J. Sutton] built look great, but we love the modular design he adopted when building the circuit boards.

If you’re building something that is going to sit on your desk for some time it just has to look good. We think that he achieved that, using a small block of oak as the base, and a cloudy white cube of unknown origin as a diffuser. Notice that the different colors are not mixed. There’s a baffle inside the diffuser that keeps them separate as early testing showed any combination of intensities was resulting in nearly the same shade of color.

The part we really like is the modular design of his circuit boards. The project is based around a Teensy++ 2.0 board. He first built a PCB baseboard which feature two SIL sockets to accept the legs of the Teensy. There is a third SIL socket which accepts some long legs from the LED host board, letting it perch on top of the Teensy.

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GUI window manager on an AVR chip


This project is reminiscent of the old days when window managers were an amazing new idea. The difference is that this window-based GUI is running on an ATmega1284 microcontroller. But the behavior and speed of the interface is pretty much exactly what you’d expect if working on an early 90’s home computer. It even uses a mouse as input.

So how is this even possible? The key to the project is a serial to VGA module which handles the heavy lifting involved with generating a VGA signal. We featured one of [Andrew's] past projects which used an AVR chip to generate the VGA signal. But that doesn’t leave nearly enough cycles to implement something like a window manager, not to mention the fact that it got nowhere near the resolution shown here.

He uses a serial mouse with an RS-232 converter chip to interact with the windows. This is best shown in his video after the break. He’s able to generate and interact with new windows. He even implemented a set of rudimentary controls which allow him to adjust the theme of the windows and drive the audio playback feature included on that VGA controller he’s using.

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This piggy bank is our stock broker


[Johna and Justin] are working to take the emotion out of playing the market. They built this piggy bank which automatically purchases stock when your coinage totals the cost of a single share. That’s right, just turn the selector to one of your three chosen stocks (Google, Facebook, and Apple are used in this example) and plug in some coins. The bank counts your money, compares it to the current online stock price, and pulls the trigger if you have enough dough. You can check out a demo clip after the jump.

The hardware is rather simple thanks to Adafruit’s programmable multi-coin acceptor. It handles the cash and it’s pretty easy to interface with the Arduino which handles the rest of the work. It connects to a computer via USB, depending on a PHP script to poll the current price. We dug through the code repository just a bit but didn’t find the snippet that does the actual stock purchase. Whether or not they actually implemented that, it’s certainly an interesting concept.

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