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 #0028: JamBox

I like it when the new HackerBox shows up on a weekend.

I always see electronics projects for making some kind of digital synthesizer to generate sounds so it seems to be a common project. It’s one I’ve never done, so I’m looking forward to experimenting with this box.

The official content list from the Instructable:

  • HackerBoxes #0028 Collectable Reference Card
  • Exclusive JamBox Printed Circuit Board
  • ESP32 DevKitC
  • CJMCU PCM5102 I2S Digital-to-Analog Module
  • Four MAX7219 8×8 LED Matrix Modules
  • Five 10K Ohm RV09 Potentiometers
  • Five Potentiometer Knobs
  • Eight Tactile Momentary Buttons
  • Four Adhesive Rubber Feet
  • 3.5mm Audio Patch Cable
  • MicroUSB Cable
  • Earbuds with Case
  • Exclusive HackerBoxes Skull Decal
  • Octocat Fan Art Decal Sheet

Unfortunately the demo code included in the guide only uses the potentiometers, buttons, and LEDs. Will need to do some tinkering to turn this into a synth.

Unboxing & Assembly of HackerBox #0027: Cypherpunk

Here’s the full list of the box contents from the Instructable.

  • HackerBoxes #0027 Collectable Reference Card
  • Black Pill STM32F103C8T6 Module
  • STLink V2 USB Programmer
  • Full-Color 2.4 inch TFT Display – 240×320 Pixels
  • 4×4 Matrix Keypad
  • 830 Point Solderless Breadboard
  • 140 Piece Wire Jumper Kit
  • 2 U2F Zero Soldering Challenge Kits
  • Large 9×15 cm Green Prototying PCB
  • Exclusive Vinyl GawkStop Spy Blockers
  • Exclusive Aluminum Magnetic Swivel Webcam Cover
  • Exclusive EFF Patch
  • Privacy Badger Decal
  • Tor Decal

I haven’t done an assembly video on a HackerBox in months. I have received some comments that they are really helpful for beginners, so I’m going to try to do one each month, which will also push me to complete the kits sooner. With all of the surface mount components this is a really good box to start with.

Quarterly Maker Box #MKR08 by Adam Savage Part 1

Several weeks ago, when I posted about Brain Candy Live!, I mentioned being a fan of Adam Savage’s work. Well, I saw him post a YouTube video announcing that he’d be curating a Maker Box for Quarterly and jumped on it. Apparently I’m not getting enough from my AdaBox and HackerBoxes subscriptions, which I already have a hard time keeping up with. I do love getting surprise packages and I understand some of it is paying for an experience.

It was unclear how many boxes Adam would be involved in, but it definitely sounded like multiple. Turns out there will be two, announced in a teaser of the first box. At $99 per box, it’s a pricey subscription compared to others. What they don’t tell you is that it’s another $8 for shipping, so really $107. Bit of a surprise when my other subscriptions include shipping in the quoted price.

The first of Adam’s boxes, which is Quarterly’s Maker Box #MKR08, arrived this week. Of course I did an unboxing video. Doing these has become good practice at describing things on-the-fly.

Neat box. Very unique. I’d been thinking about buying several items in the box, so it’s nice when a surprise comes through like this. Each Quarterly Maker Box must come with a puzzle that leads you to a web page about the contents. So naturally I worked on the puzzle before diving into the projects. To go along with one of the themes of the box, the puzzle involved doing a scaled drawing. It was actually a lot of fun and I think it turned out pretty well!

I’ll publish some other posts as I work on the projects.

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.

HackerBox #0025: Flair Ware

I still need to work through HackerBoxes #23 and #24, but #25 arrived on the 1st. I’ve been spending so much time putting together my workshop that I haven’t sat at my electronics desk much in the last 2 months.

The camera was a little too close for the view angle I had set. I need to build a better camera arm/rig too.

I tried to price things out, but there are a lot of custom things in this box. Prices are from Amazon Prime unless noted. This list was copied from the Instructable for HackerBox #25.

  • HackerBoxes #0025 Collectable Reference Card – $1 (estimate)
  • LED Star Wearable Kit – $5 (estimate)
  • Color-Cycling Sign Kit – $5 (estimate)
  • BitHead ATtiny85 Wearable Kit – $5 (estimate)
  • Pluggable Digispark DevBoard – $3.08
  • Extra ATtiny85 8DIP Microcontroller – $1 (estimate)
  • CJMCU LilyTiny Digispark Module – $8.68 (AliExpress)
  • Three LilyPad NeoPixel Modules – $11.85 (SparkFun)
  • LilyPad Coin Cell Module – $1.95 (SparkFun)
  • CR2032 Lithium Coin Cells – $3.19
  • USBasp Atmel AVR USB Programmer – $5.79
  • Green Prototyping Board 4x6cm – $0.25 (estimate)
  • Lapel Pin Backs – $1 (estimate)
  • Shrink Tubing – 100 Piece Variety – $2.36 (AliExpress)
  • Tin Project Box – $1.02 (AliExpress)
  • Exclusive HackerBoxes Decal – $1 (estimate)
  • Exclusive HackerBoxes Knit Cap – $10 (estimate)

With a lot of estimates I get a total of $67.17. Since I’ve been pricing these out all but once I’ve come up with a $60-70 value. Consistent.