Category Archives: Electronics

Solenoid Engine

One of things I've tried to make on the metal lathe was this little solenoid engine. This video was taken during the process of building it - I have since cleaned it up and made it prettier. But it was cool just to see it move!

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Lixie Clock

A friend showed me a project online where somebody made an edge-lit acrylic clock inspired by Nixie tubes. Once I saw it, the seed was essentially embedded in my skull and I knew I was going to have to make one of my own. The acrylic panels were cut on my home-built CNC machine, the LEDs are neopixels driven by an Adafruit Trinket, and the case is walnut.

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Nixie Tube Clock

I've been wanting to build a Nixie tube clock for many years now, but the high voltage required always scared me off. Recently I was looking online for a step-up power supply to try to finally build it, and found a site that sold a pre-built Nixie clock board for less than the parts would have cost me. So I ordered one, and built an enclosure for it. The outer enclosure is painted pine, and the 'face' is bubinga that I CNC cut around the Nixie tubes.

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Bartop Arcade

I'm convinced that I've posted about this project before, but I can't seem to find it on the blog no matter how I search. Back when I made it, it was sort of a rush job to finish it before a party - so I guess I must have forgotten to post it. Anyway, here is a bartop Raspberry Pi arcade machine I built a year or so ago. The best part? It's got a pair of USB jacks on the front that can be used to plug in some USB SNES controller I've got, or you can also insert a memory stick to install new games to the system.

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Voice-Controlled Mood Lamp

This little project uses a Raspberry Pi and an 8x8 Neopixel grid from Adafruit. I've got some scripts running on it that let me control it via the Amazon Echo. We can say things like "switch the mood lamp to green", for example It's working, but I still need to come up with a way to keep the port served up permanently - right now I would need to log into it and restart the server any time we lose the power.

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Bluetooth Speaker

After shopping for a bluetooth speaker lately and being somewhat shocked with the prices of anything better than a toy, I decided to try building my own. This one is made of oak and mahogany, and has a 4 inch full-range driver. I found an off-the-shelf little board (for around $20 or so) that handles all of the bluetooth details. It sounds great. The range is a little low, but that may have to do with having to receive through 3/4 of a inch of red oak. I can probably only get around 10 feet away and still have it work - but I can live with that. We put it on this shelf in our living room. It really looks pretty nice over there.

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Neopixel Mood Lamp

I built one of these Neopixel-based mood lamps for my desk at work, and another for my sister for her birthday. The three dials use the HSV (hue, saturation, value) model of light - each dial controls one aspect. It's a much more natural light model for humans to grasp than a standard RGB (red, green, blue) model. The wood is cherry, and the diffuser is just sanded plexiglass.

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Laser Engraver – Take 2

This is take two of the laser engraver, rebuilt from the ground up. The old one used to bind up a lot on the x axis, and had a limited work area. With this one, I've used what I learned on the CNC machine to rebuild it. This one is far more reliable, and doesn't seem to have any binding issues at all. I've also hidden away all of the wiring this time, and included a control panel with an emergency stop button, control for each of the (two) fans, and a laser override button, so I can force the laser off when necessary.

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NTU countdown clock

We've got a joke with a buddy of mine at work - he once claimed that some task would only take 15 minutes (an unrealistically short time for pretty much any software development task), that we started joking that all of his tasks would take some multiple of an NTU - Nick Time Unit. A month or two later, I was looking for something fun to make that would let me mess around with neopixels again. So I built this NTU countdown clock. The button on the left adds NTUs, and the button on the right clears the counter. As the time counts down the color will progressively move towards red, and when the timer expires all of the neopixels will blink red to alert the user. I love those illuminated arcade buttons on the top - they make a nice solid click when you push them.

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PiGrrl Zero

Sean and I just finished building a Raspberry Pi-based handheld emulator system, than can play any classic video games up through the SNES/Genesis era. It came out pretty good, but it took three times to get case printed correctly. The stock case STL files from Adafruit were just not big enough - I had to scale things up in height to get all the components to fit. Eventually I'm hoping to mill (on the CNC machine) a replacement case from some exotic wood, and made some wooden buttons as well. That would look pretty sweet.

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