[Jesus Echavarria] sent us a link to this cute little tool that he’s built. It’s a dual USB-to-I2C-or-UART adapter, with a few more oddball features thrown in for good measure. If you were electronics Batman, you’d have this on your utility belt.
[Jesus] originally designed the board because he wanted to sniff a bi-directional UART conversation using his computer, and get it all done in inexpensive hardware with minimal fuss. So he looked to the Microchip MCP2221 chip, which is an inexpensive USB to serial and I2C chip, but with some extras. In particular, it’s got four GPIOs, a ten-bit ADC and a five-bit DAC with selectable reference voltage, and it’s all controllable over USB. And [Jesus]’s board has two of them.
Implementing USB on a microcontroller isn’t always that much fun, so we can see why he took the straight-ahead hardware approach. And as a side benefit, he gets all the other kooky functionalities that the chip brings. And we have been introduced to what looks like a neat chip to use in USB and microcontroller projects. We’re going to put one in our next random chip order.
[Brainsmoke] had a simple plan. Make a quadcopter with lots of addressable LEDs.
Not just a normal quadcopter with ugly festoons of LED tape though. [Brainsmoke] wanted to put his LEDs in a ball. Thus was born the polyhedrone, the idea of a flying deltoidal hexecontahedron covered as you might expect with all those addressable LEDs.
A Catalan solid makes a good choice for the homebrew polyhedron builder because its faces are all identical. Thus if you are making PCBs to carry LEDs, for example, you need only create a single PCB design to use on all faces. A bit of work in KiCAD, and a single face design with interlocking edges was ready. The boards were tested, a wiring layout was worked out, and the polyhedron was assembled.
But [Brainsmoke] didn’t stop there. He produced a flight case for the polyhedron, in the form of a larger polyhedron from what looks like lasercut thin ply.
Having a finished polyhedron, the next thing was to hook up a Raspberry Pi and write some software. First in Python, then in Go.
The results are simply stunning. If the mathematics and construction of a polyhedron were not enough to make this project worth a second look, then the gallery of images should be enough. You’ll notice that this is ostensibly a quadcopter project, yet no mention of flying has been made on this page. That’s because this is still a work in progress at Tech Inc Amsterdam, and there is more to come. But it honestly doesn’t matter if this project never moves a millimeter off the ground, as far as we are concerned [Brainsmoke] has created a superbly built thing of beauty in its own right, and we like that.
As you might expect, this is just the latest of many projects featured here that have involved addressable LEDs or quadcopters. Of note among them is this LED polyhedron that cleverly closes in all its bits, and this LED-equipped quadcopter that generates very pleasing patterns with a hi-res cross of pixels.