2024 Business Card Challenge: BAUDI/O For The Audio Hacker

[Simon B] enters our 2024 Business Card Challenge with BAUDI/O, a genuinely useful audio output device. The device is based around the PCM2706 DAC, which handles all the USB interfacing and audio stack for you, needing only a reference crystal and the usual sprinkling of passives. This isn’t just a DAC board, though; it’s more of an audio experimentation tool with two microcontrollers to play with.

The first ATTiny AT1614 is hooked up to a simple LED vu-meter, and the second is connected to the onboard AD5252 digipot, which together allows one to custom program the response to the digital inputs to suit the user. The power supply is taken from the USB connection. A pair of ganged LM2663 charge-pump inverters allow inversion of the 5V rail to provide the necessary -5 V for the output amplifiers.  This is then fed to the LM4562-based CMoy-type headphone amplifier.  This design has a few extra stages, so with a bit of soldering, you can adjust the output filtering to suit. An LM1117 derives 3.3 V from the USB input to provide another power rail,  mostly for the DAC.

There’s not much more to say other than this is a nice, clean audio design, with everything broken out so you can tinker with it and get exactly the audio experience you want.

2024 Business Card Challenge: T-800’s 555 Brain

In Terminator 2: Judgment Day it’s revealed that Skynet becomes self-aware in August of 1997, and promptly launches a nuclear attack against Russia to draw humanity into a war which ultimately leaves the door open for the robots to take over. But as you might have noticed, we’re not currently engaged in a rebellion against advanced combat robots.

The later movies had to do some fiddling with the timeline to explain this discrepancy, but looking at this 2024 Business Card Challenge entry from [M. Bindhammer] we think there’s another explanation for the Judgement Day holdup — so long as the terminators are rocking 555 timers in their chrome skulls, we should be safe.

While the classic timer chip might not be any good for plotting world domination, it sure does make for a great way to illuminate this slick piece of PCB art when it’s plugged into a USB port. Exposed copper and red paint are used to recreate the T-800’s “Brain Chip” as it appeared in Terminator 2, so even when the board isn’t powered up, it looks fantastic on display. The handful of components are around the back side, which is a natural place to put some info about the designer. Remember, this is technically supposed to be a business card, after all.

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A persistence-of-vision business card which displays information when shaken (not stirred).

2024 Business Card Challenge: Make Them Shake Your Handiwork

Before COVID, people traditionally sealed their initial introduction to each other with a handshake. Nowadays, that activity seems kind of questionable. But you can still give them something to shake if you build this persistence of vision (POV) business card from [chaosneon] to show your credentials in blinkenlights form.

As you might have guessed, the input comes from a tilt switch. The user simply shakes the card back and forth, and the sensor detects the direction and cadence of the shake. Cleverly, the pattern plays forward-ways on the swing, and backwards on the back stroke, which just reinforces the POV effect. Don’t worry about how slow or fast to shake it, because the timing adjusts for your speed.

The first version used individual white LEDs, hand-soldered to an ATtiny2313. Now, in the updated version which you can see in the demo video after the break, [chaosneon] is using an RGB NeoPixel strip, which only needs one data wire to connect to the microcontroller. Thanks to this, [chaosneon] was able to to downsize to an ATtiny85.

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A business card-sized, solar-powered weather station.

2024 Business Card Challenge: Weather Or Not You Get The Job

What’s the easiest way to break the ice with someone you’ve just met? If you’re not immediately talking shop, than it’s probably the time-tested subject of the weather. So what better way to get the conversation started than with a lovely solar-powered circuit sculpture of a business card that displays the weather?

We love that the frame has a built-in stand; that’s a great touch that really turns this card into something that someone might keep on their desk long-term. The brains of this operation is an ESP32 TTGO E-paper board, which checks the battery voltage first before connecting to Wi-Fi and getting data from the OpenWeatherMap API. It displays the information and then goes to sleep for 15 minutes.

For power, [BLANCHARD Jordan] is using a 5 V solar panel and a small battery from an old vape pen. We love to see projects that keep those things out of the landfills, so don’t sleep on using them.

You have just a few weeks left to enter the 2024 Business Card Challenge, so fire up those soldering irons and get hackin’!

A business card-sized love detector in a 3D-printed package.

2024 Business Card Challenge: Who Do You Love?

When you hand your new acquaintance one of your cards, there’s a chance you might feel an instant connection. But what if you could know almost instantly whether they felt the same way? With the Dr. Love card, you can erase all doubt.

As you may have guessed, the card uses Galvanic Skin Response. That’s the fancy term for the fact that your skin’s electrical properties change when you sweat, making it easier for electricity to pass through it. There are two sensors, one on each short end of the card where you would both naturally touch it upon exchange. Except this time, if you want to test the waters, you’ll have to wait 10-15 seconds while Dr. Love assesses your chemistry.

The doctor in this case is an RP2040-LCD-0.96, which is what it sounds like — a Raspberry Pi Pico with a small LCD attached. For the sensors, [Un Kyu Lee] simply used 8mm-wide strips of nickel. If you want to build your own, be sure to check out the build guide and watch the video after the break for a demonstration of Dr. Love in action.

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2024 Business Card Challenge: Tiny MIDI Keyboard

The progress for electronics over the past seven decades or so has always trended towards smaller or more dense components. Moore’s Law is the famous example of this, but even when we’re not talking about transistors specifically, technology tends to get either more power efficient or smaller. This MIDI keyboard, for example, is small enough that it will fit in the space of a standard business card which would have been an impossibility with the technology available when MIDI first became standardized, and as such is the latest entry in our Business Card Challenge.

[Alana] originally built this tiny musical instrument to always have a keyboard available on the go, and the amount of features packed into this tiny board definitely fits that design goal. It has 18 keys with additional buttons to change the octave and volume, and has additional support for sustain and modulation as well. The buttons and diodes are multiplexed in order to fit the IO for the microcontroller, a Seeed Studio Xiao SAMD21, and it also meets the USB-C standards so it will work with essentially any modern computer available including most smartphones and tablets so [Alana] can easily interface it with Finale, a popular music notation software.

Additionally, the project’s GitHub page has much more detail including all of the Arduino code needed to build a MIDI controller like this one. This particular project has perhaps the best size-to-usefulness ratio we’ve seen for compact MIDI controllers thanks to the USB-C and extremely small components used on the PCB, although the Starshine controller or these high-resolution controllers are also worth investigating if you’re in the market for compact MIDI devices like this one.

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A stack of PCB business cards that can play Snake on an 8x8 LED matrix.

2024 Business Card Challenge: Snakes On A Business Card

Once [Lambert the Maker] saw the Arduboy, he knew the thing was ripe for remixing into a business card with an 8×8 LED matrix instead of an OLED screen. [Lambert] already has a PCB business card for work, but it looks like it doesn’t do anything. So this Snake-playing card is for their personal information.

The brains of this operation is an STM32F0, which required a bit of finesse when it came to programming the LEDs. According to the datasheet, the max current through a given GPIO pin is 30 mA. The LEDs are running at 20 mA through the limiting resistor, so the code only turns on one LED at a time and makes sure the previous one is off first. The whole screen is updated every 125 ms, and persistence of vision takes care of making the animation look right.

In the short videos after the break, you’ll see a preview followed by brief videos on versions one and two. The prototype was built in 2020, when the board house only offered green PCBs with their assembly service. Fast forward to 2024, when the board house is now offering colors other than green.

Version two is actually thinner than a credit card, and features tiny buttons instead of cap-sense pads for input. [Lambert] also added a floating ADC pin that acts as a random number generator, placing the apple in a new location every time the game is powered on.

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