Remoticon Video: Circuit Sculpture Workshop

Circuit Sculpture was one of our most anticipated workshops of Hackaday Remoticon 2020, and now it’s ready for those who missed it to enjoy. A beginning circuit sculptor could hardly ask for more than this workshop, which highlights three different approaches to building firefly circuit sculptures and is led by some of the most prominent people to ever bend brass and components to their will — Jiří Praus, Mohit Bhoite, & Kelly Heaton.

For starters, you’ll learn the different tools and techniques that each of them uses to create their sculptures. For instance, Kelly likes to use water-based clay to hold components in specific orientations while forming the sculpture and soldering it all together. Jiří and Mohit on the other hand tend to use tape. The point is that there is no right or wrong way, but to instead have all of these tips and tricks under your belt as you sculpt. And that’s what this workshop is really about.

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Binary Calculator For All 0b10 Types

You know the old joke: There are 10 types of people in the world — those who understand binary, and those who don’t. Most of us on Hackaday are firmly in the former camp, which is why projects like this circuit sculpture binary calculator really tickle our fancies.

Inspired by the brass framework and floating component builds of [Mohit Bhoite], [dennis1a4] decided to take the plunge into circuit sculpture in an appropriately nerdy way. He wisely decided on a starter build, which was a simple 555 timer circuit, before diving into the calculator. Based on an ATMega328P in a 28-pin DIP, the calculator is built on an interesting hybrid platform of brass wire and CNC-routed wood. The combination of materials looks great, and we especially love the wooden keycaps on the six switches that make up the keyboard. There’s also some nice work involved in adapting the TLC5928 driver to the display of 16 discrete LEDs; suspended as it is by fine magnet wires, the SSOP chip looks a bit like a bug trapped in a spider web.

Hats off to [dennis1a4] for a great entry into our soon-to-conclude Circuit Sculpture Contest. The entry deadline is (today!) November 10, so it might be a bit too late for this year. But rest assured we’ll be doing this again, so take a look at all this year’s entries and start thinking about your next circuit sculpture build.

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Brassy, Classy WiFi Clock Shows Weather, Too

Circuit sculpture is a great way to elevate your soldering and electronics skills to the realm of three-dimensional art. In this case, art can be practical, too. Take [romaindurocher]’s interactive WiFi clock for example. Left alone, the clock cycles through showing the time, temperature, and if applicable, the precipitation forecast.

But [romain] doesn’t have to watch and wait for the info they want. Thanks to an IR proximity sensor, [romain] can interrupt the cycle and get the date, time, temperature, or even a smiley animation depending on the number of hand passes over the sensor. The clock itself is based on an Adafruit Feather HUZZAH ESP8266 and a Featherwing display. It uses the OpenWeather API to retrieve all the information.

We really like the way this looks, and the angle reminds us of oscilloscopes and other lab equipment. If you want to make your own version, this project is wide open, though the hardest part would be making it look as clean as [romain] did. Take a second and check out the brief demo after the break. It’s a wonderful entry in our Circuit Sculpture Challenge which is accepting entries for ten more days.

Not so much into straight lines and utility? Circuit sculpture takes many forms, some of them human.

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Circuit Sculpture Breathes Life Into Discrete Components

We’ve probably all given a lot of thought to breathing this year in various contexts. Though breathing is something we all must do, this simple act has become quite the troublemaker in 2020. They say the best art imitates life, and [bornach]’s Astable Exhalation certainly does that, right down to the part about astability. It’s especially interesting that the end result — breathing, visualized — is so calming, it could almost be a meditative device.

There is nary a microcontroller to be found on this circuit sculpture, which uses a pair of astable multivibrator(s) to light two sets of LEDs that represent air being inhaled and exhaled. We like that [bornach] used two sized of exhale LEDs to represent droplets and aerosols in this beautiful circuit sculpture, and we love that most of the components were scavenged from old electronics and older projects.

Our Circuit Sculpture Challenge runs until November 10th, so even if you’re waiting to take the Remoticon workshop before entering, there’s still a little bit of time to whip something up afterward in the post-con adrenaline rush phase. If you need inspiration, check out some of the other contest entries or just surf through all things circuit sculpture.

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The Clock Under The Dome

In what can only be described as a work of art, [suedbunker] has created a clock under a glass dome. Sporting Nixie tubes, a DS3223, BCD encoders, and MPSA43 transistors driven by an MCP23008 I/O expander it is truly a sight to behold. [suedbunker] has previously created the Circus Clock, a similar clock that celebrated a diversity of ways of displaying the time.

The dome clock represents a continuation of that idea. Reading the clock requires looking at the horizontal and vertical numbers separately. The hours are on the horizontal and minutes are on the vertical. Monday to Sunday is represented in the neon bulbs on the back. The power supply at the bottom provides a wide range of voltages including 5 V, 12 V, 24 V, 45 V, 90 V, 150 V, and -270 V for all the various types of lights. For safety, an optocoupler is used on the -270 volts to drive the clear seven-segment display.

An Arduino Nano controls the whole clock by communicating with the DS3232 real-time clock module and the port expanders via I2C. The soldering and wiring work, in particular, is tidy and beautiful. We look forward to future clocks by [suedbunker] and his wife.

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Bright White Night Light Fights E-Waste

E-waste is a gigantic problem, and it can seem impossible as a lone individual to make any kind of dent in it. But [akshar1101] is trying to do their part by looking past the defective aspects of broken, discarded electronics to draw out the possibilities of what’s left.

This friendly night light is made from the PCBs of four broken Nokia 5110 LCD modules. The screens were all toast, but the nice white LEDs that used to light them from the sides work just fine. [akshar1101] cleverly tied all the LED and GND lines together with single right-angle header pins. To power the LEDs, they wired up a JST receptacle to one of the PCBs and connected a 3.7 V lithium battery pack that sits underneath. [akshar1101] diffused the piercing white lights into a soft glow with two pieces of acrylic.

We love to see electronic components get saved from landfills, especially when they can be turned into something useful and beautiful. Something about the traces on these boards makes them visually interesting to us — it’s that little hiccup that interrupts otherwise parallel lines.

If all of your 5110 LCDs are in working order, you could spice one of them up with an RGB backlight.

Solar Satellite Glows At Night

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If we were going to imitate one of master circuit sculptor Mohite Bhoite’s creations, we’d probably pick the little blinky solar satellite as a jumping off point just like [richardsappia] did. It’s cute, it’s functional, and it involves solar power and supercapacitors. What more could you want?

SATtiny is a pummer, which is BEAM robotics speak for a bot that soaks up the sun all day and blinks (or ‘pumms’, we suppose) for as long as it can throughout the night on the juice it collected. This one uses four mini solar panels to charge up a 4 F supercapacitor.

At the controls is an ATtiny25V, which checks every eight seconds to see if the supercapacitor is charging or not as long as there is enough light. Once night has fallen, the two red LEDs will pumm like a pair of chums until the power runs out. Check out the brief demo after the break.

Would you rather have something more nightstand-friendly? Here’s a mini night light sculpture with a friendly glow. If you haven’t started your entry into our Circuit Sculpture Challenge, there’s still plenty of time — the contest runs until November 10th.

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