Halloween 2013 – Mask of Light


So this year, my halloween options are either an interesting mask idea, or Krieger. I’m going to try the mask idea first, because I’d rather build something than just stick on a lab coat, and I’m also going to a burlesque ball, so the Krieger thing is a little off the mark…

I have this filigree metal mask left over from a party last year, and I thought it’d be pretty cool to see if I could find a way to bring it to life. Here it is, in it’s stock form.




So, what can I do to add a little life to it, and get it looking something more like… this:


Custom Project 001 – UltraViolet Staff [WIP]


This is to be a build log of the first commission I’ve decided to document. This is a custom piece, requested after my name was suggested for the job. It’s a mainly polycarbonate theatrical staff, with the crown adorned with UV LEDs. It’s rechargeable, and has a small microcontroller to handle battery management and sequencing of the LEDs.

A photo of the LED "crown", taken during the build process.

A photo of the LED “crown”, taken during the build process.

Read on for more photos of the construction, and a few bits of technical info that make the project what it is.


An “Easy” Brushless Motor Driver Board


Here’s a little board I knocked up in EAGLE, that I created to allow me to easily spin up BLDC motors that are often found in hard disk drives. I fabbed the boards with OSHPark, and finally finished soldering them up this week. A quick test indicates success!


Spinning away nicely.

Spinning away nicely.

The board is based on a DRV11873 from TI. It’s a nice little chip, and takes a lot of the work out of just getting the motor to spin. If you can’t afford the processor resources to drive the motor, you can offload that function to this IC, and control speed simply with a single PWM channel.




I’ve spent a bit of time away from here lately. Well, I haven’t, I’ve written a few updates to post, but they are all missing a few photos / conclusions, so more from them later.

Things to come:
– JTAG on the ATMEGA2560
– Moving on from the Arduino Platform – AVR’s
– Updates on the GlowStaff project
– A crash course on driving brushless DC Motors
– And a few other bits and pieces.

I’ve got some holiday coming up shortly, so I’ll do my best to get all of those posted up then!

Gotta love laser plotters…



The finish on this laptop resists most attempts at being photographed, but you can make out R2D2 there… I love it, even if it severely boosts my geek-rating!

Farnell and EAGLE


So, in 2009, Farnell (my primary electronic component distributor) bought out Cadsoft, a software design company most widely known for the EAGLE PCB design package. Untill recently, this has had little implication (aside from who I now pay for my updates).

However, the other month, when browsing for some new IC’s on Farnell’s website, I noticed a new link appearing on certain product pages:


Now that’s helpful!

Registered users of the Farnell website are now able to download EAGLE library data for a growing number of parts on available from Farnell. Useful! The file linked on the product page contains an EAGLE Script file, which means all you have to do is open the library editor, and run the script in order to have EAGLE generate the necessary symbol, footprint and device data for that part.



A little something for a friend…


Just a little something I’m working on for a friend, finished the code for it tonight.

I’ve got a NRF24L01 hooked up to let me jump through patterns defined in a separate file to the main sketch, makes updating a breeze. The wireless link also allows me to transmit live pixel data to the hoop from a laptop, but I still need to write some software to be able to properly make use of this!

Playing with pixels – Arduino and the T6963c


The weather here in the UK has been pretty miserable this weekend, and rather than cycle about in it, I decided to stay in and tackle a project I’ve been meaning to get on with for a while; getting to grips with using graphic LCD displays. So this Saturday has been spent looking at how to get the very nicely featured arduino-t6963c library to do the business with this nice 240×128 graphic LCD you can see below, drawing text, bitmaps, graphic functions and even animations!


Graphic LCD in less-than-elegant casing...





Well, from being on a roll to having to focus efforts else where (I’ve still got a pretty demanding day-job!). I wanted to put a quick update in before the weekend, and I’m writing this on my way to the airport on a business trip, so please forvgive the hasty composition!

I’ve made some progress in the way of all the internal wiring for the LED module clusters, and photos are on the way to give an idea of how they are shaping up. The controller has had it’s wireless radio coded up, and is streaming IMU data (pitch, roll, yaw) at approx 15Hz to my laptop, which is just oh-so-satisfying! The last major bit to complete is the mounting of the Li-Ion cells and to finish the chargining / power management circuitry, but that’s a day job for this weekend.

Costings are forever being re-negotiated with suppliers, but I’m getting the prices lower each time, so I’m hoping to be in the position to have a rough estimate to base pre-orders on before the end of January. I’m aiming to set up a product page where people can register serious interest, and if I get enough to justify building a batch, then at long last, these things might see market!

Again, sorry for the briefness, I’ll update with some photos and a bit more info on my return!

Peace out!

What does £100 worth of plastic look like?


So these are the bits I’ve been waiting forever to get around to having machined. These will be used to mount the LED modules within the outer tube, a vast improvement from the old ways of epoxying them directly to support rods! I’ve included a few photos to show the idea from SketchUp to semi-finished product…

Read On…


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