Category Archives: Electronics

Lixie Clock

Years ago I built a one-digit Lixie clock that's now in my office at work. But I've always wanted to build a full six-digit version (with seconds), as that is way more interesting to look at. Now with the laser cutter for etching the acrylic and my new knowledge for making PCBs, this project idea finally seems ready to translate into reality. The photo on the left is a proof of concept of a single digit. The photo on the right is all of the various parts I've been working on to build the six-digit version.

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Word Alarm Clock v2

This is version 2 of the nightstand-sized version of the word clock that I've been working on. You can see version 1 on the left, and version 2 on the right. As you can see, I definitely achieved my goal of making it a lot less deep! The new one is slightly less than an inch and a half deep. I redesigned the circuit for the new version to eliminate the separate Arduino and switched to board-mounted buttons (instead of the panel-mounted buttons the old one used). I also changed the way I did the light-separation grid to make it less thick. All of those changed made a huge difference in the size, as the first version was almost three and a half inches deep.

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Under-Workbench Storage

I built this narrow drawer cabinet to go under my electronics workbench, to give me a plan to keep some frequently used tools near at hand, and to give me a place to stash in-progress projects when I want to get them off the bench. The body is cherry, and I painted the drawer fronts black for some interesting contrast. It's only 10 inches wide, but the drawer are pretty long so it actually holds a fair bit of stuff. For some of the drawers I also used the laser cutter to make some sliding trays to hold the many small items I use a lot when populating boards.

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Word Alarm Clock

I've been working on trying to come up with a version of the word clock I build that is in a smaller form factor - something more of the nightstand-sized variety. This is version 1. It still doesn't have a wooden enclosure around it, but it's definitely much smaller. This one uses a pair of PCBs that I designed and populated myself - one for the LED layer, and one for the rest of the circuit. It's still a lot deeper than I would like though, so I've been starting to plan for a version 2.

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Word Clock #2

Technically, this is actually word clock #3 - as #2 is on my desk at work. But where I haven't taken any photos of #2 or posted it here, we'll call this one #2 for now. I made this for my sister's fiance Nate, after he saw the first one at my house and fell in love with it.

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Arduino Metronome

I've got the idea to make an Arduino-based metronome while I was between other projects. It's got a Neopixel ring for flashing the beat (plus a piezo buzzer) and displaying the current BPM, plus a pair of buttons for increasing/decreasing the rate. So, pretty simple - but kind of cool. I still need to figure out an enclosure for it - I'll post another pic once it's done.

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KSP Control Panel – Part 2

I've done some more work on the KSP control panel - I've connected up all of the button and switches on the first two panels, and have them talking to an Arduino Leonardo. The bottom pic shows the first custom PCB I've ever designed and had made. It's basically some shift registers and pull-downs to support 16 buttons/switches per PCB, will connections to allow chaining multiple copies together. It was a cool and pretty inexpensive experience - I think I might try to make more custom boards in the future. For example, a lot of my neopixel-based clock ideas are essentially the same circuit every time. I might try to design an Arduino Shield with that circuit on it, to make my designs cleaner and faster to build.

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KSP Control Panel – Part 1

Sean and I play a video game called Kerbal Space Program, where you build things and send them to space - everything from simple orbiters, to space stations, to landers and rovers to other planets. What's cool about it is how it tries to keep things pretty realistic - you have to learn a bit about orbital mechanics in order to be successful, for example. One thing we noticed online is that some people build these elaborate control panels and connect them to their PC to play the game - lots of switches, LEDs, etc. - just like a real control panel. That sort of project is right up my alley! Sean and I have started working on one. We're still in the early stages, but I'll try to share some photos as we go.

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Word Clock

Yup - another clock. :P This one reports the time in five minute increments, but uses words - as in, "it's half past three o'clock". It's not as blindingly-bright in person - my camera makes it look a lot brighter than it really is. For the case I used some awesome tiger maple that I've been hanging onto for a while. It doesn't come across in that dark photo, but in person it looks awesome!

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Neopixel Bubble Clock

Anybody who knows me and my hobbies knows I love to make interesting clocks - I feel like they are the perfect canvas to try out new things and get creative, as everyone fundamentally understands what a clock is supposed to do. Because the basic idea is constrained, it lets me be creative with the implementation without having to also explain what the thing actually *does*. So here's a new clock I built - it's Neopixel-based and run off of an Arduino. The outer ring is hours, and the inner ring is minutes (in 10 minute intervals). The center pixel is an AM/PM indicator. I used ping-ping balls for the diffusers - it turns out that they work great for Neopixels! They remind me of bubbles, which is why I call this my "bubble clock". The colors are really washed out in this photo, but I think that's just because the Neopixels are so bright. In person it is very vibrant and colorful.

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