Capslocker Rebuild

This project is mainly about my new build process, which I used to create a single sided PCB for a rebuild of the Capslocker project from last year. Instead of using a laser printer to create an iron-on resist pattern, I'll cover a whole PCB in resist and then use a laser cutter to etch off the resist.

First, I created a new design in Eagle. I wanted this version of the Capslocker to be a little easier to program and adjust, so I added a potentiometer and a 6-pin AVR ISP header. It makes the device a bit bigger, but really makes it easy to modify the code.

Next, I lightly spray painted some single sided copper clad PCB material from Jameco. The best paint I've found is Rust-Oleum "Painter's Touch" flat black spray paint. It dries in about 20 minutes.

The laser cutter I'm using is a 45 watt Epilog, one of two currently available at Techshop in Menlo Park.

I set up the spray painted copper clad on the laser table and focused it as precisely as possible. A sharp beam is essential to getting a precision resist mask. Then I printed-to-file using a postscript driver, imported that file into Corel, converted to a 1200x1200 DPI bitmap, and inverted. I set the laser to 50% speed and 40% power, raster mode, bottom-up etching. It can be a good idea to print two copies since the second pass cleans up paint residue a lot, but it's not required.
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Submitted by Garrett on Wed, 04/01/2009 - 23:47.

Awesome ShiftBrite KITT

"my05stang" has installed the full ShiftBrite bar in his Mustang and posted a new video! Looking great....he's going to experiment with different colors and speeds, as well as check into diffuser solution. But at this point, it looks great. Good job!

Submitted by Garrett on Fri, 02/13/2009 - 20:54.


Testing new headers

I got some custom headers for use in Arduino shields today, and tested them out tonight. Seems to be pretty much ideal.

After the soldering, I decided to attack a problem that a customer asked me about. He's working on a Mustang and wants to use ShiftBrites to make a Knight Rider style scanner (2008 TV show version). I wrote some code, it allows any chain length divisible by two, any solid or mixed color, and custom leading and trailing gradients. Here's the relevant post on the Arduino forum. A YouTube video is below:

Update: I moved the controller to a larger LED bar and updated the code a little bit:  Read more»

Submitted by Garrett on Sat, 01/10/2009 - 05:58.

New Years Ball is Ready

I flew back home today and immediately started rigging the ball (click here for the article about the ball) drop system for tonight. Here's the pole right after I set it up:

New Year's Ball Pole

And here's the ball run up to the top and ready to rock:

New Years Ball

The pole is made of two 10-foot pieces of 3/4" EMT and is guyed with nylon twine. A couple of pulleys let me raise and lower the ball on more twine. It will run through a sequence right after powerup, then go to a slow fade. The ball is made of drinking straws and ShiftBrites, and powered by an Arduino.

Submitted by Garrett on Wed, 12/31/2008 - 19:19.

Ball of Win

I thought it would be fun to make my own version of the Times Square ball drop for New Year's Eve. Maybe later I'll build something like this: ... but for now I'll have to go with 32 LEDs instead of 32,256, and drinking straws instead of Waterford crystal. The straw icosahedron first stellation (small triambic icosahedron) was actually built a couple of years ago when I had a package of straws and no job. I simply strapped a bunch of ShiftBrites to it.

Submitted by Garrett on Wed, 12/24/2008 - 09:48.

A ShiftBrite Christmas

Merry Christmas!

I installed 30 ShiftBrites on the front fence this year. I'm pretty happy with the results!

Submitted by Garrett on Sat, 12/06/2008 - 03:29.

Arduino Shield Scaffold

Arduino Shield Scaffold PCBArduino Scaffold Schematic

I've been designing some products that attach to an Arduino Diecimila / Duemilanove board. These are typically called shields, and are used to easily add functionality to the basic Arduino platform.  Read more»

Submitted by Garrett on Wed, 12/03/2008 - 02:29.

Why ShiftBrites Exist

I ran across some photos of an impressive project on Flickr, uploaded in mid-2007. tellini on Flickr was apparently building a bar of individually-controlled RGB LEDs, with an Arduino. Only 1.5 years ago, there weren't many options to get this working; the ShiftBrite was a rough concept buried in a folder in my computer. He used a lot of shift registers, a lot of wire, and a lot of hard work. Here's what the prototype looked like: 

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Submitted by Garrett on Mon, 12/01/2008 - 23:27.

Giant ShiftBrite Election Meter

Election Meter

I built a giant red/blue bar graph to display the electoral vote at my house tonight. It uses 32 ShiftBrite RGB LED modules, two CSG-4M LED numerical displays, a Cubloc CB405 with Quick Start 1000 board, and an ACODE-300B Bluetooth module. I used Eric's code from Hackaday last night to scrape CNN's election results. The code runs on a small 400MHz Linux server I always have running for file storage and random scripting.

Here's how I did it:

Election Meter  Read more»

Submitted by Garrett on Tue, 11/04/2008 - 14:06.

ShiftBrite Demo Photo

ShiftBrite RGB

ShiftBrite RGB module doing its thing. I realized I didn't have any pictures of the modules lighting up in each color. Planning to get a datasheet written up within the next day or two.


Submitted by Garrett on Wed, 06/25/2008 - 00:54.