2016-12-23 (F) Weekly Summary

We took a rather "soft" topic this show, the biohacking community. It wasn't a specific aspect or project, like many other shows, instead, it was about what people could expect to see and experience in the community. Soft or vague topics are hard to talk about but I think we did a good job of describing what we've encountered on our biohacking journey as far as the online community.

Tim has the metal collar

Work on the Clockwork Theremin has taken a back seat to the Color/Touch. The Color/Touch took a back seat to other projects over a year ago. We haven't seen the last of the Clockwork Theremin. Unless you stop reading this blog, please don't do that, I like having you here.

Before switching gears, pun intended, a reed switch was installed behind the final gear. Originally, this was going to be cut from wood. But as the design formed in my head I realized it would be more logical to 3D print it. If someone wanted to reproduce it in wood, it would certainly be possible. Even simple.

Model of reed switch holder

Installing the reed switch holder was a simple process. Two holes were drilled into the gear board and countersunk bolts were installed to hold everything together. Since the device was small and plastic, instead of wood, it was easily strong enough to hold the gear in position for the picture shown below. A wood piece that size might break along the grain.

Reed switch holder installed

Electronic hardware was mounted into the control enclosure. These parts won't be visible during operation but they were labeled for demonstration purposes since this could be a presentation for children learning to code. For this reason, a full-sized Arduino UNO was chosen instead of a smaller and cheaper knockoff.

Boards installed on control enclosure side

Schematics were redrawn to account for all the changes since the first set was drafted. More detail was added to show individual wires instead of simply implying a connection with a single line.

Colored schematics

Some of the hardware intended for the control enclosure would be difficult to mount directly to the sides. The headphone socket was intended to be mounted into a thin-walled chassis and the switch, shown below, required a square hole. Cutting square holes is possible but prone to error and guaranteed to be time consuming. 3D models were created which would allow plates to be printed to adapt circular and rectangular holes.

Switch and printed adapter

Codebender.cc, a personal favorite of mine, stopped operation. Code for the Clockwork Theremin was migrated to create.arduino.cc and at the same time it was changed to work with and Arduino UNO instead of an Arduino Pro Mini.

Work on the Clockwork Theremin stopped there for now. A project which had been put on hold years ago, Color/Touch, was brought out of the closet, dusted off and restarted. Color/Touch was killed by scope creep and overwhelming complications in the electronics. At one point, a circuit board was designed and that was overkill for the project. Serious, SERIOUS overkill. One morning, inspiration struck and all the complications associated with creating and ordering a circuit board vanished when the idea of simply ordering LED light strips came to me. They can be ordered with individually addressable LEDs, for a premium price but that meant there was no need for a custom circuit board.

LED strips and control board

Attaching everything to the wall was another complication since the insides had to be accessible during installation. This was solved by adding a base plate that could be attached by bolts through the lid. It destroyed the smooth cosmetic look on the surface but it was a good step. Switch wires connected to the controller on the baseboard by a six conductor ribbon cable and header pins. These were originally ordered for connecting the custom circuit boards together.

Switches installed in lid

A control board was soldered with all the necessary connections for making the controller talk to the lights and switches. This was nothing more than a piece of protoboard with wires soldered to the underside.  Creating a small custom circuit board for this part of the project would be important if a large number of Color/Touch needed to be produced.

Underside of control board

Code needed significant rework. The previous iteration had 16 LEDs while this one has 76. Some of the modes weren't meant to work with such a high density of LEDs. Code changes took two days and it was tempting to start from scratch.

Changes in light colors


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