AdaBox 011: PyPortal

Yesterday I received AdaBox 011: PyPortal.

adabox011-pyportal.jpg

Similar to AdaBox 010, there isn’t much here in terms of assembly or physical experimentation using different parts, but the PyPortal is a really cool new device from Adafruit. It’s built for IoT projects, with:

  • 3.2″ touchscreen to display info and interact with the device
  • ESP32 co-processor to handle Wi-Fi connections
  • Analog Devices ADT7410 temperature sensor
  • SAMD51 to handle all of the processing, compatible with CircuitPython, which makes it fun and easy to program
  • Laser cut acrylic enclosure/stand

They’ve also included a 1 year pass to adafruit.io. I’ll likely turn this into something that interfaces with my Home Assistant server to control different devices around my house.

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Took 5-10 minutes to remove the protective paper from the acrylic pieces and assemble the stand

I haven’t done much in terms of electronics, woodworking, or making in general for the last couple of months. I think I burned out a bit when I caught up on so many projects over November, December, and January. I’ll get back to making soon!

8x8x8 LED Cube

My last HackerBox, #0030: Lightforms, came with an 8x8x8 LED cube kit. I started building it in May, when I assembled the PCB and made a jig for assembling the grids.

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8×8 jig

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I got busy over the summer and the thought of soldering 512 LEDs didn’t excite me. After catching up on all of my other kits, it was finally time to dive back in.

I thought I took some video of assembling the board, but I must have deleted it. So I didn’t bother with any video while assembling the grids either. The repetition would have been quite boring. I thought I’d do a gallery with captions for a change.

While assembling the 8×8 grids I settled on a pretty good system, so I recorded myself doing a couple of rows to show my method.

This is definitely my longest electronics kit in terms of hours spent and it had so much repetition. Pretty cool result. Here is someone’s demo showing what can be done with the cube.

I’ll need to upgrade the firmware so I can program the board with my own animations.

Boldport Club: Capaci-meter (#31)

This is the penultimate project from Boldport Club before they move away from the subscription model. It is called Capaci-meter and is project #31. I’m really sad to see the Club changing because I’ve enjoyed the projects a lot more than any of the other electronics kits and the PCBs are so beautiful. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes.

After having issues with my Hakko FX-888D soldering iron, I finally did some troubleshooting and by using a meat thermometer I determined the tips weren’t getting hot enough. Then I found the device actually has an adjustment mode which lets it compensate. Works great now and is so much better than that cheap iron I’ve been using for other recent projects.

It’s great when the project produces a useful device like this for testing the value of capacitors.

AdaBoxes 8 & 10

More catching up on electronics stuff that was piled on my desk. Here I unboxed AdaBoxes 8 and 10. Then I assembled 10, which is a sweet device, and loaded some of the code examples. Skip ahead to 17:23 if you only want to check out the demos.

In the past I mentioned I might cancel my AdaBox subscription, which I did after box #8. On social media and in their YouTube shows Adafruit has been pretty much telling you what’s in the next box, which has been nice. I knew #9, based on their HalloWing board, didn’t interest me. Then when I realized #10 was going to be the NeoTrellis and subscriptions were still open late in the quarter I jumped in. I plan to make a game-time decision each quarter from here on out.

Unboxing HackerBox #0030: Lightforms

Quick unboxing video for the latest HackerBox.

Official box contents from the Instructable:

  • HackerBoxes #0030 Collectable Reference Card
  • NodeMCU V3 Module with ESP8266 and 32M Flash
  • Reel of 60 WS2812B RGB LEDs 2 meters
  • 8x8x8 LED Kit with 8051-Based MCU and 512 LEDs
    • PCB
    • Reusable Plastic Parts Box
    • Two 4.7 KOhm Resistors
    • Eight 470 Ohm Resistors
    • 10 KOhm Eight Resistor Array
    • STC12C5A60S2
    • 40-Pin DIP Socket
    • Eight 74HC573 Octal Latches
    • Eight 20-Pin DIP Sockets
    • ULN2803 Transistor Array
    • 18-Pin DIP Socket
    • Two 10uF 25V Electrolytic Capacitors
    • Two 22pF Ceramics Capacitors
    • 12MHz Crystal Oscillator
    • Barrel Power Socket
    • 4-Pin Serial Header
    • Power Switch
    • Cable with USB to 5V Barrel
    • Red Hookup Wire
    • 550 LEDs
  • USB Serial Module with CH340G and Jumper Wires
  • Stranded Hookup Wire 3 meters, 22 gauge
  • Exclusive HackerBoxes Decal
  • Exclusive Dark Side LED Decal

It’s disappointing that HackerBoxes resold us a popular kit that you can get for $15-20. I’ve seen these LED cubes many times online and while they do look awesome, I never bought one because I didn’t think I’d have the patience to put one together. I guess I’ll get the chance now.

I’ll probably try to do a time-lapse of this assembly, which is going to take a long time.

HackerBox #0029 Field Kit Updates

I’ve customized the items in the HackerBox Field Kit and explained everything in this video.

You can find the example code I put together for all of the modules in my hackerbox-29-field-kit GitHub repo.

hackerbox-0029-field-kit-modules-breadboard

I plan to keep the kit in my backpack, especially for trips up north when I visit family. Maybe I shouldn’t take this with me on flights though. Have you ever travelled with a bunch of wiring and electronics parts?

If you’re interested in an electronics community, join us on reddit and Discord.

Boldport Club #23: Pips

When I was thinking about cancelling my AdaBox subscription I came across Boldport Club.

As a member of the Boldport Club you’ll receive an electronics project once a month. Our projects are designed to be engaging, challenging, entertaining, collectable, and to promote exploration and discovery through the use of electronics.

Weird timing that AdaBox007 actually included the Cad Sticker set from Boldport Club.

Over the last year or I’ve come to realize I really enjoy little soldering kits. Time will tell if the Boldport Club is satisfying and worth the cost. Each project looks unique and really well designed. I paid for a year up front, which comes out to pretty much the same as a year of AdaBox and I get something every month instead of quarterly.

Here’s a time-lapse of my assembly of Boldport Club #23: Pips.

It was a fun assembly and works as advertised. Not sure I’ll get any future use out of it though.

AdaBox006: CircuitPython

The last AdaBox of the year was delivered yesterday. I was able to avoid spoilers so I did a quick unboxing video.

I’ve been wanting to try the AdaFruit M0 boards like the Circuit Playground Express, but figured they’d be including one soon in an AdaBox. Pays to wait, especially when I have a backlog of projects. This is a really neat microcontroller with a lot to explore. It works with the MakeCode block editor, which will be fun to hack around with.

More info on the box can be found in Adafruit’s Learn guide for AdaBox006.