Helmet of many LEDs built for Burning Man

This motorcycle helmet was heavily altered to accept all of the hardware that goes into driving that huge array of LEDs. [Brian Cardellini] built it to wear at burning man. He claims to have been in over his head with the project, but we certainly don’t get that feeling when we see the thing in action. It’s light on build details, but there are plenty of demo shots in the video after the break. The animation and fading action really gets started about a minute and a half into it.

One of the early frames of the video is a shot of the parts order webpage. Since it’s an HD clip we were able to glean a few bits and pieces from that. It includes a MAX7219 LED Display Driver and fifteen 25-packs of Blue LEDs. Now that chip is a great choice, and one of the later shots shows two of them on breakout board driven by an Arduino. The look is very clean since he carved out most of the helmet’s padding to make room for the electronics.

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Wide word-clock takes a modular approach

[Ishan Karve] took on the challenge of building his own word clock. This is a timepiece that displays the current time in the same syntax you would use if someone asked you what time it was. You’ll find a lot of these projects around, with one of our favorites using etched copper clad as a bezel. But [Ishan] departed for the ordinary by building a clock that is rectangular rather than square. To do so he uses a 16×8 LED matrix that is made up of small modules.

He designed a board that holds a 4×4 LED matrix and includes pin headers on each edge. This way he can arrange these 16-pixel blocks into arrays to make a larger grid. For the clock he used eight boards. These are driven by two MAX7219 chips, with an ATmega168 as the main controller and a DS1307 to keep time. Each LED is isolated by a thick layer of acrylic which as one hole for each pixel. This prevents light from bleeding over into letters that should not be illuminated. Check out the result in the clip after the break.

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LED clock lights up a dead Mac Mini

[Professor Shadoko’s] Mac Mini died. But since the case designs on Apple products are half the reason to buy them, he decided to reuse the enclosure by turning it into this clock (translated).

As with the binary clock we saw yesterday, this one uses a bunch of LEDs to display the time, but it does it in a way that’s a bit more readable if you know what you’re looking for. The face has been divided up into two columns. On the left is hours, then minutes and seconds in increments of five. To the right is AM/PM, with minutes and seconds in increments of one. If we’re doing this right, the time seen above is 10:23:42 PM on April 28th, 2012. The white LEDs below the date act as a digital pendulum, scrolling left and right as the seconds tick by.

The display uses two MAX7219 LED drivers to control the grid which is build on a big hunk of protoboard. An Arduino ties the whole system together with a Chonodot for accurate time keeping. There’s even an ambient light sensor which adjusts the LED intensity to make this readable in direct sun, or the dark of night. See a demo clip embedded after the break.

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Gaming scoreboard and storage box in one

This game storage box will also keep score for you. [Marcus] built it for playing the card game Munkin, but some clever programming could adapt it for most needs. The hardware is built around an ATtiny2313 to do the thinking, and a MAX7219 to drive the 7-segment displays. Each player has their own two-digit score readout, which is perfect for this game which only tracks scores from -9 up to 10.

In the video after the break you can see [Marcus’] explanation of the user interface. One player acts as scorekeeper for the game. That person uses three buttons to adjust the score as necessary, and to move the current player marker, expressed as a decimal point on one of the displays. Pressing all three keys will put the unit into programming mode. This lets you select the number of players and at which position they are sitting, as well as make adjustments to the score if necessary.

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Electronic dice has option for 20 or 100 sides

[Bluewraith] built himself an electronic dice using a 555 timer and 4017 counter. This is a classic project and he enjoyed doing it but wondered about making a 20-sided dice. So he grabbed his Arduino and got to work. A switch on the final project selects between 20 or 100 sides. He used a MAX7219 to control the 7-segment displays, and a standalone AVR chip for the rest of it.

If you missed it back in October you should also look in on this 6-sided dice. It also uses an AVR running the Arduino bootloader but a mercury switch allows the player to shake the box in order to start a roll.

One last note, we made a conscious decision to use the word ‘Dice’ instead of the grammatically correct ‘Die’ which is its singular version. We think ‘Die’ can be a bit too confusing and we’re not the only ones.

Ikea LED matrix


[Spikenzie] has created an 8×8 LED array that fits inside an ikea frame. He multiplexed the 64 red LEDs on a PCB with connections on the back. He then used a MAX7129, an LED multiplexer and driver, driven by a PIC over SPI to do animations and play pong. He then encased the array in laser-cut cardboard and white acrylic to get large dots. This entire assembly was then placed inside an Ikea RIBBA picture frame. The result is an aesthetic homebrew display that is easy to control.

Related: 64pixels are enough

AVR ATtiny25 USB hit counter

[Bob] has a USB page hit counter that uses an ATtiny25 to run a MAX7219 which drives eight 7-segment displays. It is easy to implement USB on an AVR using just firmware, eliminating the need for any USB to RS232 conversion. The host software is written in Delphi and sits in the Windows tray. The code examples seem simple enough to expand upon into your own display programs.