Monthly Archives: March 2012

To Catch a Leprechaun

In the days leading up to St. Patrick's Day, the kids were making traps for leprechauns. They were really hoping to catch one, but alas - he managed to elude us. They were pretty excited to see the footprints and notes he left behind, though!

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Light Grid: Software

This past weekend I also started working on the software to control the light grid. For now, I just tried some very simple things - rough versions of alphabetic character, and one very simple fireworks-style effect (both of which could be significantly improved. I've got lots more that I want to do, but this was a start just to give me an early fix of the awesomeness. :)

And below are a pair of short videos of each of the two things I mentioned. This first shows the letters - the example sentence I picked had Sean cracking up. The second shows the fireworks-style effect, which could use a lot of work - especially in the smoothing and fade-out department. I think I need to tail off the color values instead of trying to play with the brightness setting to get a better fade.
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Light Grid: Enclosure

This past weekend I started working on the enclosure for the grid. I used some curly maple I'd had sitting around the shop for the last decade. :) It was a piece that has always been too small to make any furniture out of, but too nice to burn or throw away. So I made a nice little mitered box to hold the grid. For the diffuser to go in front of the LEDs, I borrowed an idea I saw online that actually ended up working perfectly - a white plastic cutting board. The enclosure got a coat of teak oil for a finish, which will later be followed up by some polyurethane - but I couldn't wait the three days for the oil to cure, so I mounted the grid in the enclosure to start playing around with it. In the right hand photo, you can see the enclose from the back (with the back panel removed). The Arduino is in the bottom center of the photo. Eventually, it will be mounted inside the enclosure as well, but I'm going to wait until after I get the polyurethane on before I mount it, just in case.

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Light Grid: Making the Grid

The first step on my new project was to cut up the original string of Christmas lights, rip off the bulb covers and mounting tabs, mount them in a piece of plywood drilled with a grid of holes, and wire everything back up. This is what I worked on for a few hours each weekend in February. After a few mishaps and bad connections, I managed to hook it all back up to the original controller (that came with them) and a new, beefier power supply (that could drive both of the 25-light strings I had spliced together).

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New Project: Light Grid

I've started a new project at home for fun. I've wanted to start playing around with an Arduino microcontroller for a while now. A few months ago, I came across several online projects (like this one and this one) involving using the Arduino to control a new style of Christmas lights made by GE. This Christmas lights are composed of a string of RGB (red-green-blue) LED modules that can be used to create any color of the rainbow. Each LED module on the string is individually controllable, and the stock remote that comes with the lights can only do a dozen or so patterns - and most of them are fairly boring. So - similar to the link I mentioned about - I want to cut up a string of modules and arrange them in a 7x7 grid, build a nice wooden enclosure for them, and display various pattens on the grid based on different events. For example, maybe I could make fireworks on the display when I receive an email. Stay tuned for future posts - I've actually gotten a little ways on this project, I just haven't gotten the photos together yet.

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Goo Bath

The kids saw a commercial recently for something you can add to the bath water to make it all thick and gooey. Lori and I had no idea what they were talking about, until I saw it at Wal-Mart over the weekend. We gave it a try on Saturday night, threw on the bathing suits, and let them go to town. They had a good time with it, but holy crap did it make a mess. I think if we ever try it again it will be outside in a kiddie pool, where we can hose them off afterwards.

Carter was getting pretty silly in there, and was making up goofy dances to amuse Sean. Lori took a short video of this goofiness, and we just had to share.
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Ice Cream Sundaes

Ryan slept over a couple of weeks ago, and we all made ice cream sundaes for dessert. No real story - just a pair of cute pictures.

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