A Heart for His Girlfriend

[Decino] made a nice LED animated blinking heart box for his girlfriend. That’s a nice gesture, but more to the point here, it’s a nice entrée into the world of custom hardware. The project isn’t anything more than a home-etched PCB, a custom 3D-printed case, a mess of LEDs and current-limiting resistors, a shift register, and a microcontroller. (OK, we’re admittedly forgetting the Fifth Element.) The board is even single-sided with pretty wide traces. In short, it’s a great first project that ties together all of the basics without any parts left over. Oh, and did we mention Valentine’s day?

Once you’ve got these basics down, though, the world is your oyster. Building almost anything you need is just a matter of refining the process and practice. And if you’ve never played around with shift registers, a mega-blinker project like this is a great way to learn hands-on.

Not everything we write up on Hackaday has to be neural nets and JTAG ports. Sometimes a good beginner project that hits the fundamentals with no extra fat is just the ticket. What’s your favorite intro project?

21 thoughts on “A Heart for His Girlfriend

  1. A phenomenal beginners project, Truly sharply done.
    But to be honest I believe the female will never truly appreciate the though and labor put into this.
    And 10 to 1 will probably use it as a shaming tactic if he doesn’t make her another one for the next
    birthday.

    [Editor’s Note: A bunch of people reported this comment as inappropriate. We totally agree that it’s sexist and offensive. But honestly, it says more about the emotional maturity of the original poster than anything else. Valentin, we’re sorry you’ve had such bad relationships and hope you find someone better in the future. You do _not_ know the OP’s girlfriend.]

    1. As a female, educated in science, including electronics, your words do sound a bit rude to me.

      Maybe check your formulation ? Or I may be wrong as a non native English speaker, understanding your words the wrong way :) If so, sorry.

      1. As a native english speaker I agree with your summation; @Valentine wrote that in such a way that it implies that a woman couldn’t possibly care about, much less understand, such esoteric matters as wiring up some LED’s- I’m sure their intention was to imply that after so much hard work the makers partner (regardless of gender, though I assume @Valentine used female because thats what it says in the article above) would not understand how much effort had been expended on their behalf. As it stands it just comes off a little presumptuous and paternalistic. Maybe they’re just gotten out of bad relationship?

        1. I am merely a merely coming of the stories of battered men, And experiences that have shaped my own perspectives. Also, coming to the conclusion that a NAWALT (magical unicorn of a GF) merely doesn’t exist. Or may at first, Just to reveal negative traits subsequently after the marriage knowing in modern western civilization she is in a win-win situation. Essentially, a man sovereignty is sacred though I believe many women are a hindrance to it.

          For the record, I do respect the publisher Mr. Williams for not erasing my comment and allowing me to state my piece.

      2. Full disclosure: made something similar, with more LEDs and animations and proximity sensing, five years ago for the woman who is now my wife. It is running on her bookshelf as I type this.

        It wasn’t _the hit_ that I wished it was — she doesn’t appreciate the tinfoil frame / cap-sense hack as much as I do (it was sooo much work to tweak the sensitivity) — but she knows a loving gesture when she sees one.

      3. Either there are so few women interested in this sort of thing that his comment is pretty accurate and the majority of women probably wouldn’t appreciate the effort or actually lots of women who really would find this interesting in which case I guess we can stop banging on about what a disaster it is that so few women are interested in stem fields even though we are bribing them to be there. Can it really be both?

  2. Nice project sir with the shift register, and 3d printed case, altough the case probably was a bit costy. This my first project idea about 2 years ago for my girlfriend(the main difference beetwen mine and yours is that mine mas simply controlled with a 555 timer. And didnt have a 3d printed case, it was the plain pcb and had a stand from screws covered in heatshrink(simplier to show: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bx-xeDaqbPKWeW5HbnFqTzBUSWc).Aaand it was a nightmare to get it done by xmas. Had to find a laser printer, i screwed up the schematic in Eagle and so in. But the expereinces that i gained worth all the effort. And my gf absolutely loved it, cuz’ it was handcrafted. She wanted at that time to blink them individually. Now i am about to make that happen with the WS2812 and an Arduino Nano, the only problem is she broke with me, about 2 months ago, so i made this one for my mother. And this new project will by my first double-sided pcb manufactured properly in a factory. It will be a real challenge.

  3. Nice project sir with the shift register, and 3d printed case, altough the case probably was a bit costy. This my first project idea about 2 years ago for my girlfriend(the main difference beetwen mine and yours is that mine mas simply controlled with a 555 timer. And didnt have a 3d printed case, it was the plain pcb and had a stand from screws covered in heatshrink(simplier to show: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bx-xeDaqbPKWeW5HbnFqTzBUSWc).Aaand it was a nightmare to get it done by xmas. Had to find a laser printer, i screwed up the schematic in Eagle and so in. But the expereinces that i gained worth all the effort. And my gf absolutely loved it, cuz’ it was handcrafted. She wanted at that time to blink them individually. Now i am about to make that happen with the WS2812 and an Arduino Nano, the only problem is she broke with me, about 2 months ago, so i made this one for my mother. And this new project will by my first double-sided pcb manufactured properly in a factory. It will be a real challenge.

  4. I made something similar to a solar light that but with a personal touch. I coupled together a bunch of solar cells that gave around 5V open circuit voltage. With a low leakage diode in series it charged up a supercap (2.7V 20F, 2 in series). This powered a NCP1400 low power switcher that stepped up to 3.3V. This again powered a attiny2313. The attyiny ran in very low power mode until the comparator detected that almost no light fell on the solar cell. Then it started a small light show with 4 red leds underneath. It turned on and off the lights according in a soft glowing PWM. This happened randomly with the aid of a LFSR. Physically it was was a sandwich of solar cells and a circuit board, the circuit board was elevated above the ground with some few metal wires fashioned as legs. If you put it on light surface, for instance near the window.

    It took me some effort to get the very low power consumption, that way I discovered that the internal comparator of the attiny was quite power hungry compared with a low power comparator from TI. The NCP1400 is pretty cool switcher as it can start from 0.8V but stops at 0.2V, really draining the supercaps as much as possible. If charged up during a sunny day it would work for almost the whole night. Before that I used a maxim chip 756 but it had a higher dropout voltage (0.8V).

    It was well received with the whole “this will run for a very long time as its “batteries” work for a much longer time” and that I filled a bunch of the Flash with “I love you”.

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