Illogical voltage double uses logic

[Jonathan Thomson] just finished writing up his entry for the 7400 logic contest. It’s a voltage doubler that uses a 74HC14 logic chip. Because this is not at all what the chip was meant for–and he’s a sucker for puns–he’s calling it the Illogical Dickson Doubler.

What he’s got here is basically a charge pump built from a set of diodes and capacitors. On the breadboard you see two chips, one is used as a clock signal generator for the other which is acting as part of the charge pump. We’ve seen a string of hacks that misuse the protection diodes on the inputs of logic chips. In fact, [Jonathan's] setup uses the same back power concept that barebones PIC RFID tag did. You may remember in that project the chip was being powered from one of the I/O pins, with the VCC pin not connected to anything.

We’ve embedded a video after the break with shows some voltage measurements, as well as an LED being powered from the doubling circuit.

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Rear window LED display gives other drivers a piece of your mind

rear_window_led_matrix

[Gagandeep] was sick and tired of discourteous drivers on the highway, so he decided that he would put together a display to let them know what he thought of their poor driving skills. He planned on putting the display up in the rear window of his car, so he had to ensure that it did not obstruct his view while driving.

He decided that an LED matrix would be the best way for displaying images and text while on the go, so he got busy constructing a 40×16 mesh grid for his rear window. Using a wooden template to get the spacing and positioning just right, he spent several days soldering the 600+ LEDs to one another. He used 74HC595 shift registers to manage the LEDs in groups of 5 columns, while an ATmega AT89C51 was tasked with generating the text and images to be displayed. All of the ICs were deadbugged in place, helping achieve [Gagandeep’s] desire of keeping his view unobstructed.

While we’re not well-versed on the legality of such a display, it looks great when animated. There are plenty of pictures of the grid in various stages of construction as well as videos of it in action in his Picasa album, so be sure to check them out. If you are looking for code or Eagle files, you can find those here.

Hackaday Links: October 16, 2011

Spinning DNA animation using sprites

[James Bowman] shows a way to use sprites to simulate parts of DNA moving in 3 dimensional space. The animations are driven by an Arduino board and Maple board, which allows a comparison of the processing differences between the two. [Thanks Andrew]

Tiny Pong

This Pong game is so small (translated), you’ll be fighting over who gets a closer view of the screen.

More CNC halftone pieces

[Christian] made a bunch of halftone pictures with a CNC mill. He took the concept from [Metalfusion's] halftone projects and ran with it. He even posted some video of the machining process (turn down your sound before viewing this one).

Most useless machine

[Jumbleview's] take on the most useless machine makes the entire lid shut off this rocker switch, instead of using a separate arm for the task.

7400 rectifier

[Noel] is using a couple of 7400 chips in an unorthodox way to form a full-wave rectifier. They’re not powered, but instead used for the internal diodes. It’s his entry in the 7400 contest.

Discrete logic driving game development

[Caleb] is hard at work on a driving game based on 7400 series logic chips. This will be his entry in the Open 7400 Logic Competition, and it really outlines why this contest is especially tricky.

The concept behind the game is quite simple. You’re the driver of a car (the red dot at the bottom of the display square seen above) and need to navigate the curves in the road as you drive along. It’s the same game as we saw played on receipt paper back in June. [Caleb's] using and LED matrix as the display, and we’re confident that if we grabbed our favorite microcontroller we could have this up and running on an 8×8 bi-color display in an afternoon. But doing it without the crutch of a programmable chip really brings out the clever engineer inside of you.

The circuit seen above is a Logisim proof-of-concept that [Caleb] went on to test on the breadboard. He thought he had everything figured out until he realized that his Data Flip-Flops were very occasionally not powering up in the same state as he predicted. Don’t worry, he found a solution to the problem. But we can’t wait to see what other hurdles he encounters as he pushes on toward completing the project.

Get out the graph paper get started on the new discrete logic contest

Here’s another chance to ply your hacking skills for cash and prizes. Dangerous Prototypes has just announced the Open 7400 Logic Competition. First prize is $100 and a bunch of hacking goodies. But even better is that since it was announced, more sponsors have stepped up to increase the kitty, and the number of entries that will get prizes.

The parameters for entry are wide open. You can design anything you want, with emphasis on originality. Make sure you take plenty of pictures and document the project along the way. Their judging will take into consideration the amount of detail posted about the project (hence the ‘Open’ in the contest title).

Need some ideas to get you started? We enjoyed the useless machine that used a 7400 NAND gate. You could always build a time piece of some sort like this no-microcontroller clock. Perhaps hardware control like this stepper motor driver is more to your liking?

[Thanks Moderboy]

Most useless machine upgrade — now with a button!

There’s a soft spot in our hearts for pointless projects, as long as they’re well executed. [Bertho] really hit the mark with his take on the most useless machine. We’ve seen several renditions of this concept, most of them hinging on a box that will turn a mechanical switch off whenever you turn it on. But this take uses a push button to activate a switch flipping mechanism on another part of the machine.

You can see the drive gears in the image above. The final gear has a small bar which flips a switch to one side or the other. The circuit does this without the need of a microcontroller. A 7400 series NAND gate chip, some passive components, and two mechanical relays are all it takes. At each push of the button, the logic chip trips one of the relays to trigger the appropriate motor direction based on the current state of that switch. You can press the button during movement, but all that will do is delay the inevitable flip of the switch.

Larson scanner using 7400 series logic hardware

[RandomTask] is sharing a Larson scanner he built a few decades ago. These days you can whip one of these up using an Arduino in under an hour. He mentions this, but we agree that for nostalgic purposes there’s nothing like implementing the scanning LED effect using hardware.

Often called a Cylon Eye (after the television show Battlestar Gallactica) or referred to as the lights on the front of Kitt (the car from Knight Rider), the effect doesn’t just involve switching LEDs on and off in the proper order. A true Larson Scanner fades the LEDs as the bright point moves away from them, resulting in a tail that dims over time.

This implementation uses a 555 timer as the clock signal, allowing for speed control through a potentiometer. A counter chip, J-K flipflop, and line decoder all work with each other to address the movement of the brightest light. The fading effect is managed via a capacitor and resistor for each LED. The video after the break shows the pleasing result of this setup.

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