When starting to work on my alarm clock project, I decided it would be a good idea to design a little independent display that I could attach to many Arduino projects and integrate into their designs. I started out using the 74HC595 shift register to independently control 4 7-segment displays, but the setup used a lot of chips (74HC595) and a lot of connections, as you can see in the below photo:
I could barely see the digits under all those wires! So I set out to make a better design and stumbled upon the MAX7219 chip and this very helpful guide. I got the chip working on a breadboard and created a Fritzing design for it.
I started out making a single-sided PCB version that required jumper wires, but I decided that I wanted a cleaner look. I designed and etched my very first dual-sided board, and it worked!
Here is the thing in operation. I made some simple code to cycle through all the numbers from 0-9999:
Here are some photos of the single-sided and dual-sided versions:
About a year ago when I first started with Arduino, I learned that projects can be taken off the arduino to stand alone on a breadboard or finished PCB. I also discovered that it was significantly cheaper and easier to buy an ATMega328 chip without a bootloader and burn the bootloader yourself instead of buying one with the bootloader preloaded.
I followed a guide from 3guys1laser.com to get everything I needed to burn a bootloader onto a breadboard:
I then decided that it would be inconvenient to have to bring out a breadboard and wire everything up every time I buy a new ATMega chip. Thus, I created a “shield” of sorts that would plug directly into an Arduino.
I used a ZIF socket to make taking ATMega chips in and out a breeze. And since I’ve been experimenting with photography and animation lately, here is an animation of the shield in operation, burning a bootloader onto an ATMega328:
I do not have any code or schematic for this project since it was all done on-the-fly (and before I knew about github and Fritzting!). See the guide at 3guys1laser for details on how to make your own!
A few months ago I posted about a music festival beacon that I created to help my friends find me in the crowds. After going to 2 music festivals with it, I am happy to report that it is a success! My friends were able to see me in very large crowds as long as it was dark out. I attached the device onto a tent pole to allow for hands-free use and to make it even higher in the air.
For proof of how visible a simple light-up ping pong ball is, check out this animation I made from a couple of photos I took of the screen at one of the performances. The camera was looking at the crowd from behind. That color changing dot is the beacon!
My first ever Arduino project has been through a series of upgrades as I’ve learned new techniques for making electrical circuits. It all started out on a breadboard. I then learned how to break free from the Arduino and make an independent project. Next, I created a more permanent version of my Simon game on a pre-perforated board. And now my Simon game is here in its final form, etched onto a copper board:
I am pretty proud of how this turned out; I think it looks a lot neater and more professional than my previous iterations of the game. I was happy to go back to my first project and give it a final touch with an etched design.
This year, I wanted to make my brother something special for his birthday. Instead of just sending him some store-bought Halmark card, I decided to make him one myself! Using my new-found Arduino skills, I set out to create a birthday card that would inspire him to learn to solder. The end result is the educational musical birthday card:
This was my first ever two-sided PCB, although it doesn’t really take advantage of any communication between the two sides of the board. The two-sided board is just used such that the writing on the card and the circuit traces can be on opposite sides for aesthetics.
I made the “silkscreen” portion (the black text and images) by toner transfer after I etched and clean up all the copper traces. This proved to be a very effective and simple method of adding text and images to a board for a more complete and professional look.
A quick making-of gallery:
Transferring Toner for Text
Ironing on the toner for text
After transferring toner
Etching the board
After etching – front
After etching – back
Transferring “silk screen”
Complete Birthday Card!
My brother soldered the parts on, and he sent me a photo of the completed birthday card, which works!