Light up your limbs

Here’s a Christmas tree project we can get behind. The “tree” itself is made of twisted pairs of insulated copper wire.  At the end of each pair a surface mount LED has been soldered between the two conductors.  All of the wire limbs converge into a 4×4 matrix. One tree uses a prototyping shield and an Arduino, the other tree is just using an ATtiny2313 microprocessor. Take a look at the twinkling tree in the video after the break.

This artful creation uses one color of LEDs.  We’d love to see future improvements that incorporate multiple colors, enhance the fading effects, and perhaps add some interactivity such as pulsing to an inspiring rendition of Chestnuts Roasting on and Open Fire (which, consequently, is called “The Christmas Song“).

[Read more...]

Tube prototyping station

[Gio] enjoys using vacuum tubes in his projects. He designs the circuits using a CAD program but was finding that there is no substitute for actually building a prototype before heading to a final design. To make this process easier, he built his own tube prototyping station.

At the top of the board he’s got three different sizes of tube sockets with the pins from each wired as common. The nine pins from the sockets break out to a terminal strip where they can be interfaced with a solderless breadboard. For added versatility he’s included terminals to tap into some RCA jacks, as well as a 100 kOhm variable resistor. We’d bet this is not something that you can find ready-made, but it sure does look a whole lot better than a workbench full of components alligator-clipped together.

Centipede shield design contest

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Our friend [Garrett Mace] from macetech has finished a prototype of a new shield which allows the Arduino (or any other microcontroller with I2C) to add 64 digital I/O pins using only 2 of the analog pins. Currently he only has a few pre-production boards, and rather than selling them he is throwing a contest to win them. The contest is looking for people who have a specific project in mind that could use the centipede, and on Friday November 13th he will pick his favorite two. To submit an idea, just head over the Arduino forums and post an idea complete with details and relevant schematics, etc.

We will be sure to follow up with the winners of the contest, as well as let you all know when the Centipede Shield makes it into production.

Sony’s wireless electricity offering

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In August we covered a wireless electricity presentation from the TED conference. Now Sony has put out a press release on their wireless flat panel television prototype. The device is capable of operating without audio, video, or power cables connected to it. This is possible at distances up to 50cm at efficiencies as high as 80%.

As was talked about in the comments of the other article, the efficiency compared to that of a cable doesn’t blow our socks off. But this does show mainstream development of this technology. We hope to see advances in both efficiency and distance. We also look forward to that small black box (which we presume facilitates the energy transfer) being integrated into the TV’s body.

[via Gizmodo]

Low-cost ARM7 prototyping

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Do you find that the capabilities of your current microcontrollers are holding you back when you try to take over the world? Moving up to ARM7 architecture will put your projects in the same arena with the iPod and the Nintendo DS.

The BlueBoard-lpc214x is a prototyping board with a lot to offer. It incorporates two RS232 connections, USB, VGA, SD card slot, piezo buzzer, JTAG, audio out, PS2 keyboard connector, and a 2-line character LCD. The processor is an NXP Semiconductor LPC2148 with 512KB of programming space and 32+8KB of ram. The board also includes a 256KB i2c eeprom. This is a lot of prototyping power, but the low purchase price knocks our socks off: $40.90! Sadly, shipping would cost us another $20.43 but that’s still a lot of functionality for around $60.

Sample code and schematic are available for download. All of the pins for the microcontroller have jumpers and there are rows for pin headers around the processors if you want to patch in your own hardware. We’ve seen other ARM boards that make use of pre-existing shields. We would love to see someone remove the processor and implement Arduino-like shields for different processors outside of the LPC214x series. Promo video after the break. [Read more...]

Proto-board Z80 computer

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We’ve seen  Z80 processor based computers before but they usually use a printed circuit board to easily and reliably connect all the components. [Marton] sent us his Z80 based computer from a while back that is built entirely on prototyping board. He made his own video board that utilizes a TV as the monitor and his own mainboard incorporating a keyboard controller. The system runs at 4 MHz, has 32k of ram, and runs [Marton's] own system software which he has posted. Its quite impressive and we love the protoboard porn with thousands of grey wires running everywhere.

[Marton] used the resources on [Hans Summers'] site for his project. Make sure to check it out if you’re interested in a broader background concerning DIY Zilog Z80 computers.

RepRap wedge

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Generation 2.0 of RepRap, the self replicating 3d printer, is approaching realization. Code named “Mendel”, the new design will be wedge shaped rather than a box which offers a few benefits. The overall design is smaller than the original RepRap but the printable area is larger. This means more functionality with less building material. With each new generation of this project the assembly gets easier and total parts price drops making the RepRap available to a much wider audience.

The RepRap blog has put forth some design specs, a picture of the assembled prototype, and has links for general assembly information (ZIP). We won’t see a finished version of this released for a few months but so far it looks like a big leap forward.

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