Boldport Club: Juice (FAIL)

I started this build a couple of weeks ago and “finished” it today. It is supposed to be a battery replacement kit for use in prototyping if you run out of batteries. It was project #12 in the Boldport Club.

Mine, did not turn out to be a useable device, because I shorted the connections in the USB connector, which I put on last and should have done first. If there’s one complaint about the Boldport Club kits it’s that the instructions are lacking. I messed around with different desoldering techniques to try and correct the problem, but I might have been fighting a losing battle depending on how deep in there the shorted connections were. I figured something was screwy when the LED never lit up. Then when I connected a 9V battery as the power source instead of USB I knew something was really wrong. With a multimeter I was only getting millivolt readings from the board. I felt the battery and it was really hot, so I disconnected to read the battery it was down to less than 9 volts already, when it had started close to 9.5! That’s when I called it quits.

I’m almost positive I thought this kit was something else when I ordered it with credits I had. I can’t see myself using this during a project if it had been a success, so I’m not too disappointed. Even though it was a failure I figured I’d still post the video. Since it was just over five minutes long at 20x speed with all of the footage I didn’t even bother to do any editing. The camera had filled up somewhere during the desoldering complications and I was too frustrated to bother with getting a new SD card. Enjoy! Or not.

Boldport Club: LIGEMDIO

A couple of weeks ago I assembled one of the BoldPort Club kits I had piled on my desk. This one was project #8, titled LIGEMDIO. It’s an LED tester and the name comes from the first letters of Light Emitting Diode, LED.

It was a cool little build after I swapped out to an old soldering iron and it’s a project I’ll actually get some use out of. Would have been nice to have when I tested all of the LEDs for the 8x8x8 cube.

AdaBox 012: PyGamer

I recently got the 12th AdaBox.

It’s a cool open source gaming platform, the Adafruit PyGamer, which can be used with CircuitPython, MakeCode Arcade, or Arduino games. I remember getting a GameBoy and staying up late to beat various levels of Super Mario Land when I had a sleepover at a friend’s house. I may have to try making my own game for this device.

 

8x8x8 LED Cube Case

Back in January, I finished assembly on the 8x8x8 LED Cube. Around the same time I bought an acrylic case for $13 from AliExpress. The case isn’t designed for this specific cube, but this style of case is the only option available anywhere.

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Needless to say, it needed some modifications. I had to drill new holes in the bottom to match up with the mounting holes of this particular board. I also opened up some holes in the back for easier access to the power switch and programming pins and in the side for the power plug.

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After the mods, everything went together surprisingly well.

With all of the soldering and LEDs, the cube is very fragile, so this case should keep it safe. Over 14 months after receiving HackerBox #0030: Lightforms, the full assembly is finally complete. Now I have to update the firmware so I can program my own animations.

AdaBox 011: PyPortal

Yesterday I received AdaBox 011: PyPortal.

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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!

Papier Machine Vol.0

I finally received a reward for a crowd-funded project, which arrived on December 31st.

Papier Machine Vol.0 is the first interactive electronic paper toy that unveils the mysteries of electronic black boxes.

Kickstarter

I first heard about the project in July of 2017 and I made a super early bird pledge in January of 2018. The original estimated delivery for my reward was July of 2018, so it was about 5 months late. Not bad considering in that July 2017 post I had just backed a 3D printer on Kickstarter that is over a year late with no updated delivery timeline.

My nieces were down this weekend, so Kennedy and I made the first project.

This piano was an easy one. You use the varying amounts of graphite from a pencil to make a connection as you can see from the filled in areas around each of the keys. On the back side you connect a small circuit board with an integrated chip, a coin cell battery, and a piezo buzzer.

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.