Sometimes the best inspiration is limitation. The 555 timer does “one thing” — compares a voltage to a couple thresholds and outputs a signal accordingly. It’s two comparators, a voltage ladder, and a flip-flop. And yet, it’s the most sold single chip of all time, celebrating its 50th birthday this year! So when Hackaday runs a 555 Timer Contest, hackers of all stripes come out with their best work to show their love for the Little DIP That Could.
Far and away the favorite entry was the Giant 555 Timer by [Rudraksha Vegad]. Every one of our judges rated it in the top five, and it took top honors twice. On its face, this is a simple “giant 555 in a box” build, but have a look under the hood. Each sub-module that makes up the 555 — comparators, flip-flop, and amplifier — are made from salvaged discrete parts in actual breadboard fashion, soldered to brass nails hammered into wood. As an end product, it’s a nice piece of woodworking, but as a process of creation, it’s a masterwork in understanding the 555 at its deepest level. We should all make one!
The Menorah555 is a simple design with some very nice tricks up its sleeve. Perhaps the cutest of which is pulling the central candle out and lighting the others with it — a trick that involves a supercapacitor and reed switches. Each of the candle lighting circuits, however, use a 555 timer both for its intended purpose of providing a timed power-on reset pulse, and another 555 is used as a simple flip-flop. It’s a slick design, and a great user interaction.
The Cyclotone Mechanical Punk Console Sequencer is a rotating tower of circuit sculpture and noisemakers. This one looks great, is amazingly well documented in the video series, and uses a billion clever little tricks along the way. The 555’s role? Each of the four levels is the classic Atari Punk Console circuit.
All three of these projects win a $150 shopping spree at Digi-Key. That’s a lot of timers!
Continue reading “Congratulations Winners Of The 555 Timer Contest!”
When [Jarrett] decided to enter the 555 Contest that’s just wrapped up, he leaned up on an idea that’s been rattling around in his noggin for a few years: Using 555 timers to trigger a firmware dump on a microcontroller. It’s definitely the wrong tool for the job, but [Jarrett] got it working and documented it nicely at Hackaday.io.
The premise is that by interrupting the power supply to the STM8 microcontroller at just the right time and for just the right duration, it would skip the instruction telling it not to allow its firmware to be read. Time and duration… things the 555 is well known for being capable of. There was a problem, however.
The first problem is that the duration was to be measured in nanoseconds. A garden variety 555 has can only pulse down to about 10 microseconds. The solution? Well, you’ll have to read the excellent project page to find out, but don’t worry- it’s a 555. The second problem? He was using 555’s!
Was [Jarrett] successful? After much fiddling and twiddling, he absolutely was! The old firmware was dumped from the STM8 processor and the new firmware could be flashed with impunity.
This 555 contest has seen some truly epic entries, including but not limited to this 555 based accordion like instrument that this particular author just can’t get enough of!
With a 555 on the BOM, you never know what you’re going to get. With 40 of the versatile timer chips in a build, you might just get something completely unexpected, like this 555-based eight-bit digital counter.
This one comes to us by way of [Astronomermike], who chose to make a digital circuit with nothing but 555s and a largish handful of passives as his entry in the current 555 Timer Contest. The ubiquitous timer chip is not exactly the first chip that comes to mind for digital applications, but it does contain an SR latch, which only requires a little persuasion to become a JK flip flop. His initial design for the flip flop that would form the core of the circuit had a pair of 555s surrounded with a bunch of OR gates and inverters — within the rules of the contest but hardly in its spirit. Luckily, the 555 makes a fine inverter too, and along with some diode-resistor OR gates, the basic counter module was born.
The video below shows the design and build, as well as the trip down the troubleshooting rabbit hole courtesy of a bad breadboard. Each half-nibble stage of the 8-bit counter occupies a full breadboard with ten 555s; the whole 40-chip string actually works and looks pretty cool doing it.
Truth be told, this is exactly the kind of thing we had in mind when dreaming up this year’s 555 contest, so good on [Astronomermike] for thinking outside the box for this one. To see what other uses people have found for the chip that keeps on giving, or to get your entry in before the deadline on January 10, head over to the contest page.
Continue reading “555 Timer Contest Entry: A Digital Counter With Nothing But 555s”
It’s back! The 555 timer contest wants to see you do something cool with the 555 timer chip. At stake is the adulation of electronics geeks everywhere. Three top winners will be awarded a $150 shopping spree in the Digi-Key warehouse thanks to Digi-Key’s generous sponsorship of this contest.
Continue reading “The 555 Timer Contest Returns!”