Mohit Bhoite

taking over the world, one robot at a time

Category: misc

SevenSeg

Things are very busy as always at Particle (formerly Spark IO) and we have been putting in crazy hours to get the Kickstarter project out the door. As the deadline approaches, one of my work colleagues created a countdown timer. This is one of those timer apps that sits on your desktop. I wondered, wouldn’t it be cool to build a physical one that is connected to the internet? That’s how the idea to build an internet connected seven segment display was born. I could have simply chosen to breadboard such a thing, which I did, but it wasn’t enough. I’ve been itching to build a free-form project much like the BEAM robots I used to build a decade ago. So I decided to take that approach and build this little guy. I call him the ‘SevenSeg’.

SevenSeg

Specifications:

The construction primarily consists of the Photon without the headers as the base and then a combination of resistors and brass rods form the frame.

SevenSeg_back

7seg04_small

Solder Closeup

The schematic is very straight forward:

7seg10_small
As I was programming this guy to display time and the countdown timer, I realized that I could actually give him personality by exhibiting emotions. Since he is connected to the internet, he is never out of sync!

 

Fractal Antenna for DTV

I think I was more excited about building this antenna than the prospect of watching television after staying away from it for over 5 years.

fractal-template

The fractal segments are made up of 3/64″ dia brass rods bought at Ace hardware. You can download the printable PDF template of the antenna here.

fractal-cuts

To make things easy during soldering, I taped the fractal segments together on a piece of cardboard with painter’s tape. I then soldered the 50 ohm coaxial cable to the centers. The ground shielding braid was a little tricky to solder but with a little bit of flux and a lot of heat, it managed to stick.

solder-rig

I hot glued the assembled antenna on to a 8″x9″ foam board. I bet the brass segments would look really nice on a piece of dark wood ply than on a foam board. Maybe next time.

complete-antenna

I have been able to catch about 14 digital television channels (in Minneapolis) with this contraption.

Spark Core Neopixel App

spark-neopixel-01

I always find that it’s easier to take on a project to learn about something new than to just read about it. That’s how this iPhone app happened. It’s my first crude attempt at writing code in (ugly) objective-C. The app consists of a color-wheel to select the RGB values and a slider to set the brightness. You can find the project files for the xcode and the firmware app for the Spark Core on my GitHub repository.

The project uses the Adafruit’s 24 element neopixel ring and a Spark Core. The wiring is very straight forward. The ring requires a 5 VDC supply which is directly derived from the Core’s VIN pin (coming from the USB) and the data-in line to the ring is connected to Core’s D2 pin.

The ring, when naked, is very bright. So I decided to defuse it with a thick plastic cup.

spark-neopixel-02

 

Ice cube clock

I spent the weekend building the Ice Cube Clock kit from Adafruit. The tube is a little tricky to assembly, but overall, the kit was really fun to put together. I’m thinking of adding a Spark Core to sync the time with UTC on regular intervals.

Ice Cube Clock

Ice Cube Clock parts

 

Sunday in St. Paul

A new beginning at Spark

Began a new life at Spark Labs.

Multi-Turn Pots

I love using these multi-turn potentiometers in my designs.

Camera Iris Control

Trying to come up with a simple solution to control the Iris of a CCD camera lens.

 

Mr.Chip

Yeah, I can get a little carried away with electronics.

Struggle

Playing with extension tubes and macro videography.

So, this dude landed on my lunch table this afternoon upside down. It took him 40 minutes to flip back right and fly away. He never gave up.