Colorize your election party

[Eric] has put together a simple python script to scrape election results from It uses urllib2 to return the popular and electoral votes for each party and throws an ElectionWon exception when CNN calls the race. He’s planning on hooking this to DMX controlled RGB LED lighting that will shift to either blue or red as the night progresses. It’s a great starting point if you want to pull off something similar.

You may remember [Eric] for building the IKEA MAME table and the TRS-80 wireless terminal.

[photo: skenmy]

UPDATE: [Garrett] of macetech is putting the finishing touches on his version which uses 32 ShiftBrite modules and 2 4-digit displays controlled by a CuBLOC.

Laser etching printed circuit boards

While we hope you enjoyed our How-To: Etch a printed circuit board, toner transfer certainly isn’t the only way to get the job done. [Garrett] from macetech has recently been playing around with using an Epilog laser to etch PCBs. He started by applying a thin even coat of flat black spray paint to the copper board. The laser is used to remove paint in areas that you want the copper removed. Once that’s done, you proceed with etching as usual. He eventually removed the paint mask using acetone. The result has very fine, sharp traces, but most people that have tried this agree that using spray paint is less than ideal.

Maker Faire 2008: ShiftBright RGB LED module

We made a point to stop by [garrett]‘s booth at Maker Faire to to see what he had been working on. You may remember him from his random caps locker shenanigans. He’s just recently released the ShiftBright RGB LED module which makes it easy to implement a string of individually addressable LEDs. The module is based on the Allegro A6281 3-Channel Constant Current LED Driver. The driver chip is capable of displaying a billion colors using an RGB LED. The 3x3mm package is mounted to the backside of the board while a bright common-anode RGB is mounted to the front. The modules are designed to be daisy chained together and are individually addressed using a serial interface. You can find Arduino example code on the site and more info on how the item was developed. Read on for close up images.

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