Perma-Proto breadboards from Adafruit

We just got them in store, and they are the the most slick proto-boards we have ever seen.  I can’t decide to build a project on one, or hang it on the wall as art. We have them as the ‘Superpack’ (3 of each size) as well as single size 3 packs.

Perma-Proto Half-sized Breadboard PCB – 3 Pack! $12.50 : SpikenzieLabs Store, Electronic Products and Accessories.

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Cutting PCBs

While building prototypes the need to cut an existing PCBs or generic prototyping PCBs to fit your project will come up once in a while.

Cutting PCBs

What I normally do is score the PCB with a box cutting knife or hack saw the board into the shape I need. Both of these techniques end up making a bunch of PCB dust, and everyone says that it’s bad for you.

Today I needed to make a programming header but all of the prototyping PCBs on hand were too large and I didn’t have my hack saw or box cutter. But, I did have a paper guillotine. So I thought why not give that a try?

The results were amazing! The guillotine cut the PCB quite easily, and there was almost no PCB dust at all. This could dull the blade, but with no dust, it’s worth possibly needing to change the blade every so often.

In the tests that I did, I cut along a set of holes. Thats why you hear the “thud” “thud” “thud” … in the video.

Posted in Electronics, Hack, PCB | 1 Comment

The Music Challenge Box – Created for CBC’s Canada’s Smartest Person

Front View CBC Music Challenge Box
Oftentimes we get approached to help with a project, and sometimes we are given the mandate to ‘Make Something Awesome’.  Here is one of those times.

For CBC’s game show “Canada’s Smartest Person” we were contracted to create an on-set prop that is actually a functioning music guessing device.  The purpose of this, is to test ones musical memory, and seeing how well they can play back a set of notes, adding each note to the set for a given number of total notes.

We used the Arduino, and our Shield Dock to prototype the 2 boxes for the production.  Using our laser cutter, we crafted the housings, and arcade style buttons to take the abuse that an excited game show contestant will be throwing at it.

The notes coming out are triggered by a MIDI signal.  We set the baud rate of the the serial on the arduino to 31200.  Soldered on a MIDI jack, and with that, you can hook it to an iPad, Mac running Garageband, any computer running a software synth, or a real hardware synth.

The two semi-translucent panels are back-lit with a set of bright 10mm LEDS.  (The same ones used in our Dice Kit).  Each panel has an array of six LEDs, controlled by a MOSFET, pushing the brightness to the safest maximum.

Backside of CBC Music Challenge Box

Posted in Apple, Arduino, Art, Electronics, Interesting, MUSIC, SpikenzieLabs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Need more pins for your Arduino project?

I was working on an Arduino style project the other day and needed just a couple of more pins. I really didn’t want to add any extra circuitry to the project so I looked at the Atmega328 and wondered how I could get more pins out of it. Then it dawned on me, simply remove the crystal and associated capacitors and use the internal RC clock rather than the external crystal. To try this out, I built one of our new Minuino Kits and omitted the crystal and 22pf capacitors.

In order to do this, I had to change some fuse bits on the ATmega, telling it which clock source to use.

Here is a screen shot of the only setting I changed using the AVR studio software; I chose Int RC Osc. 8 mhz.

Then to finish up, using my MKII programmer, I loaded a new bootloader onto the ATmega. Here I chose the Arduino Pro 8mhz 3.3volts (BTW, I have been running the board at 5+ volts) for both the bootloader and the IO board style when uploading sketches.

Here is the example sketch the blinks two LEDs connected in place of the crystal:

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New take on a public space piano

d’Art Souterrain (French for Underground Art) does a new take on the public space playable piano keyboard.

This installation is located in one of the under ground pedestrian tunnel of Place Ville Marie in Montreal. Their objective was to take a create a space where people could interact in what is otherwise an area only used by people to transition from one place to another.

People walking through the tunnel play the piano by touching one of the glass panels to play the note represented. Since the glass panels are spread throughout the tunnel, they hope that people will act in a group to make music.

Notes De Passage from notes depassage on Vimeo.

One of it’s creators Jacob Dufossé, came by the SpikenzieLabs shop to pick-up some required supplies. The way that he described how it works is like this; a capacitance touch sensor is located under the glass. The sensor connects to a wire that goes straight back into the area behind the glass where there is an Arduino and a sound shield. When the sensor is triggered the audio from the sound shield goes into a standard audio mixer and is then amplified and played on speakers located in the tunnel.

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Closeup of Piranah LED

What I did here was wire up a piranah tri-color LED, and for a resistance, I used a piece of anti-static chip foam. (The type that we put chips on when we are making kits)

Shot these photos with a really close up macro lens, to capture the 3 distinct parts of the LED that give off different wavelengths of light.

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Arduino & Flight Simulator

Down in New Zealand, Jim of Jim’s Page has crafted one of the most ‘home made’ – DIY looking flight sims I’ve ever seen.  Interfacing with an Arduino for a variety of IO, and he’s got his own software that communicates it all.

Check out his Arduino link, he shows how to use the Arduino MEGA in a really cool way

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Solder : Time™ Watch

Solder : Time Watch

Solder : Time Watch - A kit you solder yourself, or ready made.

Debuted at Maker Faire Bay Area 2011, we created this watch to let your ‘inner geek’ shine.  Soldering isn’t one of your talents? Well, we have these available assembled and ready to wear as well.

This started out as a project, where we just simply wanted to make a watch.  What we ended up with is our first ‘wearable’ kit.  Surprisingly the Solder : Time has universal appeal; younger folks just ooo-and-aww, and inquire where they can get one. Even people in their golden years have had impressive praise.  ”This is a great product for people who have trouble seeing small numbers.”

You can order one already soldered, or in kit form here:

Encased in four layers of laser cut clear acrylic, all of the circuity is easily seen, top, bottom, and sides.

We developed a special algorithm for uniformly lighting the display as bright as possible but where it is only lit for a few seconds each time the button is pressed. The result is amazing battery life for the included CR2032 battery.

Optionally, you can badge-clip it to your clothes, computer bag, or anywhere.

Want to turn the Solder : Time into a desk clock? No problem! Jumper the pads for the ‘always on’ function.  Supply the Solder : Time with 3v (pair of AAA, or AA batteries) and it will always be lit. More of a hard core hacker / modifier? The Solder : Time PCB has extra pads broken out to access the RTC over I2C, pads to access the ICSP to  reprogram the controller PIC, and even one extra pad connected directly to the PIC.

If you’ve arrived here by way of, and you’d like to save 5$ on one of these watches,  use discount code : solder5time in our online store.

Posted in Computing, Education, Electronics, Interesting, PCB, SpikenzieLabs, kit, laser | 4 Comments

EasyTransfer Arduino Library « The Mind of Bill Porter

The purpose of this library is to make it easy for the everyday Arduino user working on projects with multiple Arduinos communicating with each other and sharing data. I had many people ask me for the code I used in my PS2X library example that sent PS2 Controller values wirelessly to my SAGAR robot. It got to be tiresome answering the questions and I had an idea to write a library to help the inexperienced with micro controller communications. This is a easy to use and no frills way to send data between two Arduinos.

EasyTransfer Arduino Library « The Mind of Bill Porter.

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Geared Motor Emporium

When you get a broken ‘not worth fixing’ All-in-One Scanner / Printer / Fax, there is an amazing opportunity within.  On the outside, it is a broken office garbage.  On the inside, a wealth of supplies for the DIY tinkerer, and you can dispose of the rest in an environmentally friendly way.

Came across a broken Canon MP580 all in one the other day.  I could tell that buried deep inside, I would find some awesome motors, and possibly more.  After peeling off the layers of plastic, here is what I managed to source out.

A variety of DC motors, 2 Stepper Motors, 1 Solenoid, LCD display, Speaker, Optical Encoders, and a slew of different gears, for tinkering at another time.

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