Extending the battery life of LED dominoes

[Fede.tft] wrote in to tell us about some work he’s been doing to save battery life for LED dominoes. He originally got the idea after reading this post about the electronic gaming pieces. That project was aimed at the 555 timer contest and therefore, used a 555 timer. [Fede.tft] calculates the battery life for the CR2302 battery in the 555 circuit at no more than about 80 days. That’s if you never use them and the LEDs are never illuminated. It makes sense to remove the batteries from the device when not in use, but a redesign to increase efficiency is definitely worth the effort.

This rendition does away with the 555 chip in favor of a CMOS chip. By building a circuit around four NAND gates of a CD4011 chip, the standby lifetime of the battery is calculated to increase to about 4.5 years. Not bad! Add to this the fact that replacing the 555 timer didn’t increase the component count, the price for the chip is similar to the 555, and you didn’t need to resort to a microcontroller. Yep, we like it.

Button cell connectors for breadboarding

We’re working on a project that has a battery backup, but we don’t have any more coin cell holders on hand. No problem, we remember seeing a double pin header used for this. But when we tried to shove the CR2032 battery in between the pins it was a no-go. We could swear we’d featured a project that does this but couldn’t find it here at Hackaday. After much searching we came up with the Guerrilla battery holder which is seen on the left. No wonder it wasn’t working, the CR1212 in that picture is a much smaller package. So we figured we’d have to come up with something else, until inspiration struck.

There must be some other way to configure the pin header to work with a fatter cell body. On the right you can see that a diagonal orientation works like a charm. Join us after the break for a couple of close-ups of that connector and our thoughts on using this with a variety of different cells.

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Advent wreath from parts you have on hand

Here’s an advent wreath made from six parts and a paper clip. Powered by a CR2032 3v button cell, the circuit has been free-formed using a paper clip as the conductor. We love the “dead bug” style of construction used with the ATtiny13 microcontroller because it adds an extra level of intrigue for the uninitiated. This project build on the flickering circuit we saw last year and uses the LEDs as light sensors, only turning on when a certain darkness level has been reached.

We used a tiny13 with our Menorah project last year and still have some lying around that we can use for this. We’re sure you’ve got at least a couple of low-pin-count micros on hand. If you don’t, you should!