Beam Me Up To The PCB Space Ship

This project would fit in perfectly with #BadgeLife if someone could figure out a way to hang it from their neck. Inspired by Star Trek’s Starship Enterprise, [bobricius] decided to design and assemble a miniature space ship PCB model, complete with 40 blinking LEDs controlled by an ATtiny85.

While the design uses 0603, 0802, 3014, 4014, and 0805 LEDs, some substitutions can be made since the smallest LEDs can be difficult to solder. The light effects include a green laser, plasma coils, a deflector with scrolling blue LEDs, and the main plate and bridge for the space ship.

The LEDs are controlled by charlieplexing, a technique for driving LED arrays with relatively few I/O pins, different from traditional multiplexing. Charlieplexing allows n pins to drive n2−n LEDs, while traditional multiplexing allows n pins to drive (n/2)2 LEDs. (Here is the best explanation of Charlieplexing we’ve ever seen.)

Especially with the compiled firmware running on the MCU, the PCB model makes for an impressive display.

The only catch? Your Starship Enterprise can’t actually fly.

15 thoughts on “Beam Me Up To The PCB Space Ship

    1. For a spaceship having no sound is more realistic. Unless you happen to be caugt in the expanding cloud of gas as a klingon bird of prey is blown apart the entire space battle wil be silent to you. I personally very much liked the scene in the 2009 start trek, near the start, where as the camera flies out of an airlock the sound goes silent.

  1. The term is Trekker fellow. That’s too complicated. I recall an earlier one, which had it wrapped around some reasonably simple items. In fact the primary hull was made from the battery.

    Sharon?! What are you doing sitting there with the tribbles I made sure would follow Brian around?!

    1. Multiplexing yields 2^N wires in a common cathode/anode setup. Need a demux chip though, such as a 74HCT154 4 to 16 line decoder. These can be chained to give you as many as you would like (propagation delay might be something to pay attention to). D flip-flops can give it nice effects, or adressable LED which hold last value, or just SPI LED chain.

      1. I take that you have 1 LED per binary value to come up with the 2^n. It isn’t as scalable as you think. While LED these days are very high efficient, but still you would quickly have to deal with very low duty cycles. Propagation delays for decoder is on the order of tens of ns which aren’t too significant.

        Very low duty cycles and having to refresh a large number of LED would require a fast CPU or DMA to work. At some point you might as well consider throwing in a controller which off load the CPU and provide PWM control.

  2. This is beautiful! A piece of art!

    This badge does not belong around your neck, where it dangles along with other badges competing for space on your belly,. hidden from view when walking through the crowds. No, this badge deserves to be proudly worn on the shoulder (as seen in pirate movies). High above the crowd, visible for everyone to see. Considering it’s a space ship, it belongs on a high place. It coul dbe fixed with an additional clip could to your shirt or perhaps some double sided tape. But to properly secure it to your body (and prevent it from wobbling or bouncing while you walk) the whole thing could be fastened to a stylish suspender. Which could introduce whole new trend into the world of badges, everyone is doing keycords, the suspender (a symbol on it’s own) is still unexploited. Perhaps it could have some text on it, “space the final frontier” would be the obvious, a more suitable text would be “Make it so” (Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s signature line)

    Please keep us posted how this turns out!

  3. I’ve never gone to a Trek-Con (or whatever they are called).
    But if I do, I’ll attach a couple of warp nacelles to a headband, and make a T-shirt that says
    “My brain is warped”

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