Making a QR clock bigger, cheaper, and better


With the massive response and blog cred from his QR Code clock, [ch00f] felt it was time to step up his game and update his design to a proper commercial product. His new QR clock is bigger, brighter, cheaper, and in every way better than the old version, but these improvements came at a cost.

The LED matrices [ch00f] used in his earlier, smaller version weren’t very aesthetically pleasing. He wanted the lights to shine a brilliant white, and also be somewhat attractive when not illuminated. The 8×8 LED arrays [ch00f] picked up from Futurlec had a disgusting yellow coating on each LED that turned light emitted by the blue LEDs inside to a brilliant white. This simply wouldn’t do for a commercial product with [ch00f]‘s name on it, so he turned to the one place in the universe where everything was for sale:

After some trials and tribulations with component manufacturers in China, [ch00f] had the perfect LED matrix; not too expensive, very good quality control, and something that looked really good when both unpowered and illuminated.

Now that his boards are being spun up, [ch00f] hopes to sell his QR clock on Tindie. Each 24×24 LED matrix should cost less than $100, a pretty good deal if you ask us. He’d like to know if anyone out there has any feature requests, to which we can only say he should get rid of the PCB border. Tiling a few of these displays and controlling them via serial would be much cooler than a QR Code clock.

MSP430 Launchpad Game of Life shield

[100uf] built an LED matrix shield for the MSP430 launchpad. His goal with this design was to have it play Conway’s Game of Life. It does just that, as you can see in the clip after the break. But it’s just waiting to learn some more tricks. After he tires of watching the cellular automaton he can try his hand at making some LED pendant animations.

As you can tell, the board was made in his home workshop. It’s not etched, but milled using the CNC machine shown in this image gallery. This is a single-sided PCB, which works well enough for the surface mount components and the downward facing pin sockets. But we wonder how difficult it was to solder the legs of that 8×8 LED matrix. It does have plastic feet at each corner that serve as standoffs to separate the body from the copper layer. But it still looks like a tight space into which he needed to get his iron and some solder.

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Pumpkin Tetris inspired by our own LED Jack-o-lantern

The kids (or maybe their parents) are going to be lined up at [Nathan's] front porch to get their turn at playing pumpkin Tetris. That’s right, he built a game of Tetris into a real pumpkin. We thought this looked quite familiar when we first saw it and indeed he was inspired by our own LED Matrix Pumpkin from two Halloweens ago. We love seeing derivative works and [Nathan] definitely make few great improvements to the process.

The matrix itself was wired in very much the same way we used, but he added an additional 58 LEDs to nearly double the size of the display. He used a paper grid and power drill to make room for the holes, but improved the visibility of the lights by sculpting square pixels in the skin of the fruit. But how does one control the game? The stem of the pumpkin is actually a joystick. One of the most innovative parts of the physical build was to use drywall anchors on the inside to mount the joystick hardware.

Don’t miss a demo video after the jump.

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Electronic demon costume is surprisingly unnerving

[Phil] over at Adafruit crashed last Sunday’s Show and Tell with an amazing demon costume that includes a voice changer and animated LED matrices for The Eyes and mouth. He just posted how he built this costume, but you’ve really got to Watch the video to see how awesome this build is.

Every demon needs a scary voice, so [Phil] repurposed his Arduino-based voice changer for this build. By being able to adjust the pitch of the demon’s voice with the turn of a knob, [Phil] goes from growling from the pits of hell to a demon with just a slightly annoying voice.

The Eyes make use of the Adafruit I2C LED matrix backpack. The eyes are wired to the same I2C address to prevent derping, but the three red mouth LED matrices are capable of displaying anything that fits on an 8×24 LED matrix.

The electronic portion of this build is mounted to a piece of plexiglas, which is in turn mounted to a mask [Phil] picked up from a craft store. Not really the best option considering the Halloween stores are now open for the year, but it does its job.

A Morphsuit – a spandex bodysuit – completes the build along with a few demon wings and horns. During Adafruit’s Show and Tell, [Phil] had electronic parts scattered all over his desk. To turn this into a costume, he’ll be mounting a small battery-powered speaker in a chest piece and stuffing all the electronics in a fanny pack.

It’s a very, very cool build that really steps up the game for Arduino-powered costumes. Check out the video after the break.

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Battling most useless machine gets an expressive upgrade

We suppose the only thing more useless than a most useless machine is giving it an emoticon face. But that’s exactly what has happened with this project. But you’ll want to seen the whole thing, as the presentation involves much more than an angry box that can shut itself off.

This is the second iteration of the angry box. As we saw about 18 months ago, it will eventually get fed up with you turning the switch on and freak out by driving itself all over the desk. This version starts off with a rather pleasant face drawn on the red LED matrix which takes up the front side of the enclosure. It will nonchalantly flip the switch to the off position after first being activated. But if you insist on turning it back on things get angry rather quickly. This is shown in the video after the break. But if you can get past the horrible machine translation there are some build details to be had in this post.

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USBPIC controls just about anything

Over the last few years, [Michael] has been developing a PIC microcontroller board. He calls his project USBPIC, and with the addition of a few FET drivers, H-bridges, and LED drivers his homemade dev board can handle just about anything thrown at it.

[Michael]‘s board is build around a PIC18F2455 microcontroller with both an In Circuit Serial Programming header and support for a USB port included. Instead of going for a modular format where the board can expanded through shields or expansion cards, [Michael] decided to make three different versions of the USBPIC.

The TRANS USBPIC includes eight FETs for switching off high current devices totaling 32 Amps. The MATRIX board has twice as many outputs as the TRANS board, but uses ULN2803 or UDN2982 chips for driving smallish-current devices. Finally, the HBSW board takes a TRANS board and replaces four FETs with a an L298 H-bridge chip for driving two DC motors.

For what [Michael] lost in modularity, we think he gained a very tidy microcontroller board capable of driving everything from robots to LED matrix displays.

Retroball or Super Pong Table Grows Up


Retroball is, as its Kickstarter campaign says, “Retro Fun for up to Four Players.” What you might not know, is that it’s ancestor was featured here earlier last year. With a year and a half of development underway, the build looks spectacular, and the people in their promo video look like they’re having lots of fun (obviously).

The whole concept of the game is that it has up to four players that each manipulate a paddle as in the classic Pong game. The obvious difference is that there are four players, and everything is played on a 32 x 32 LED array.

Although it looks like fun in it’s stock form, readers of Hack a Day will most likely start thinking about how they could modify it for their own uses. Everything is open source, and they promise to release the documentation for this project. On the other hand, if you can’t wait, or would rather build something very similar, check out [Brad]‘s original Instructable article!


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