E-paper displays are unusual in that power is only needed during a screen update. Once the display’s contents have been set, no power whatsoever is required to maintain the image. That’s pretty nifty. By making the display driver board communicate wirelessly over near-field communication (NFC) — which also provides a small amount of power — it is possible for this device to be both wireless and without any power source of its own. In a way, the technology required to do this has existed for some time, but the company Waveshare Electronics has recently made easy to use options available for sale. I ordered one of their 2.9 inch battery-less NFC displays to see how it acts.
We’re not sure exactly why [Justin Garrison] decided to make these awesome name badges for himself and his coworkers at Disney+ streaming, but it’s fun to imagine them all lighting up a team-building ride down Space Mountain, isn’t it? Whatever the reason, they sure do look good.
Each badge has an ATtiny85 that drives the ten individually-addressable RGB LEDs, and both the wire and the LEDs are powered by the EL power inverter. [Justin] bought the thinnest EL wire he could find, which is conveniently also the brightest and probably the easiest to manipulate.
Nevertheless, we can’t get over how good the names look, and wonder if [Justin] missed his calling as a neon artist. He cleverly stuck wires through the protoboard to help form the letters, and then used superglue to hold them in place. [Justin] has the code up on GitHub and an album full of build pictures if you want to give this a go.
If this has made you want to give EL bending another go, try using a 3D printed frame to help get it into shape.
It used to be that the contents of your pocket protector directly mirrored your geek level. But that just doesn’t cut it in our fast-paced digital age. We think [Jonathan] is headed down the right track though, by creating a scrolling LED name badge which he takes to conventions with him. With the right enclosure this could reach the same geek level as Woz’s watch. There’s a lot packed into the little device, but readability at close range doesn’t look like one the features so make sure you glance at the tag before you approach him for a conversation.
As you can see, the PCB for the project is the same form factor as a landscape ID card. It hosts an 8×5 LED matrix, which meshes nicely with the registers of the MSP430 chip which runs it. He admits that the hardware may not last very long as the chip is multiplexing the display directly, with no resistors or LED drivers for current protection. But there is potential in the design. It uses a rechargeable battery (which we like) and he included a QR code in the board artwork for easy exchange of contact information. We’ve embedded his description of the project after the break. Continue reading “Bring Your Own Name Badge”