Triangle Tiles Form Blinky Networks Using Clever Interconnects

We love to see LEDs combined in all shapes and sizes, so we were especially ticked when we caught a glimpse of [Debra Ansell]’s (also known as [GeekMomProjects]) interlocking triangular TriangleLightPanel system glowing on our screen. This unusually shaped array seemed to be self supporting and brightly glowing, so we had to know more.

The TriangleLightPanel is a single, triangular, light panel (refreshing when everything is in the name, isn’t it?).  Each panel consists of a single white PCBA holding three side-firing SK6812 LEDs aimed inward, covered by transparent acrylic. When the LEDs are doing their thing, the three-position arrangement and reflective PCB surface does diffuses the light sufficiently to illuminate each pane — if not perfectly evenly — very effectively. Given the simple construction it’s difficult to imagine how they could be significantly improved.

The real trick is the mechanical arrangement. Instead of being connected with classic Dupont jumper wires and 0.1″ headers or some sort of edge connector, [Debra] used spring contacts. But if you’re confused by the lack of edge-plated fingers think again; the connectors are simple plated strips on the back. There is a second PCBA which effectively acts as wires and a surface to mount the spring contacts on, which is bolted onto the back of the connected leaves to bridge between each node. The tiles need to be mechanically connected in any case, so it’s a brilliantly simple way to integrate the electrical connection with the necessary mechanical one.

All the requisite source files are available on the project’s GitHub page and the original Tweets announcing the project are here for reference. We can’t wait to see what this would look like with another 30 or 40 nodes! Enterprising hackers are already building their own setup; see [arturo182]’s 24 tile array glowing after the break.

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Electric Vehicles Could Be The Grid Storage Solution We’ve Been Dreaming Of

As nation states grapple with the spectre of environmental and economic losses due to climate change, we’ve seen an ever greater push towards renewable energy sources to replace heavier polluters like coal and natural gas. One key drawback of these sources has always been their intermittent availability, spurring interest in energy storage technologies that can operate at the grid level.

With the rise in distributed energy generation with options like home solar power, there’s been similar interest in the idea of distributed home battery storage. However, homeowners can be reluctant to make investments in expensive batteries that take years to pay themselves off in energy savings. But what if they had a giant battery already, just sitting outside in the driveway? Could electric vehicles become a useful source of grid power storage? As it turns out, Ford wants to make their electric trucks double as grid storage batteries for your home.

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An ALU As A Desktop Calculator Has Stunning Style From Days Gone By

Those of you with an interest in microcomputer history will know that there is a strong crossover between the path of electronic calculator evolution and the genesis of the integrated CPU. Intel’s 4000 was famously designed for a calculator, and for a while in the 1970s these mathematical helpers were seen as the wonder of the age. [Simon Boak]’s calculator is a curious throwback to that era, as it’s not a decimal calculator as we’d know it but a hexadecimal device that simply computes using the functions of the famous 74181 ALU chip.

An ALU, or to give it its full name an Arithmetic Logic Unit, is a component of a CPU with two inputs and one output that can perform any of a range of binary functions upon the two inputs and return the result on the output. This calculator has two of them for eight bits of raw adding power, with a hexadecimal keypad for setting the inputs and a set of 7-segment displays for showing the results. It’s housed in an achingly retro folded sheet metal console case with wooden end pieces that would have graced any engineer’s desk with pride back in about 1975. We may not need one, but we really want one!

If the 74181 is a mystery to you then fear not, because chip master [Ken Shirriff] has produced some handy explanation work on its operation.

Thanks [Ted Yapo] for the tip.

Ryobi Power Packs As Ebike Batteries

By now, the process of creating custom lithium-ion battery packs is well-known enough to be within the reach of most makers. But it’s not a path without hazard, and mistakes with battery protection and management can be costly. Happily for those who are apprehensive on the battery front there’s a solution courtesy of a group of engineering students from the University of Pittsburgh. Their project was to convert a pedal bicycle to electric assisted power, and in doing so they didn’t make their own pack but instead used off-the-shelf 40V Ryobi power tool packs.

The bike conversion is relatively conventional with the crank replaced by a crank and motor assembly, and a pair of the Ryobi packs in 3D-printed holders on the frame. The value in this is in its reminder that these packs have evolved to the point at which they make a viable alternative to a much more expensive bike-specific pack, and that their inclusion of all the balancing and protection circuitry make them also a much safer option than building your own pack. The benefits of this are immense as they bring a good-quality conversion within reach of many more bicycle owners, with all parts being only a simple online order away. Take a look at the video below the break for more details.

Those Ryobi cells certainly seem to have carved themselves a niche in our community!

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