PROBLEM: Even when both ceiling lights are on in the kitchen, the sink has always been too dark at night. Anyone standing at the sink creates a shadow from the ceiling light, making it tough to properly wash dishes or vegetables.
SOLUTION: Install a light above the sink.
BONUS ROUND: Build the light from parts I already had, and make it automatically turn itself on and off.
I decided to build it using stuff from around the house. Of course, this isn't just any house...this is a geek house! So the components below were naturally considered household items. I decided to use an ATtiny84 as the heart of the project. It's way under-utilized here, but I didn't have any ATtiny25s in stock. I could have used a 555 instead of a microcontroller, but then I wouldn't have gotten a cool fade-in and fade-out PWM effect. Plus the 555 at one minute or higher time scales is a little ungainly, with the high value capacitor required. And I REALLY wanted a smooth fade-in. I would have also needed to invert the trigger signal from the PIR sensor.
The schematic: Read more»
Submitted by Garrett on Sat, 03/05/2011 - 23:23.
SparkFun is doing it again! Tomorrow (January 13th, 2011) they will be giving away $150,000 worth of free electronics hardware to whoever is lucky enough to access their servers during the inevitable Internet stampede on their website. We talked to a couple of their IT people at Maker Faire New York, and they're optimistic about the steps they were planning even four months ago...still, it'll be an amazing accomplishment if their site weathers the storm unaffected.
In any case, we hope that some of you electronics hobbyists out there manage to place your order, and get some cool stuff for your next project. Remember that several macetech products are available at SparkFun: the ShiftBrite, MegaBrite, ShiftBar, and Satellite Module 001. If you snag some of our products during Free Day, feel free to contact us for any help you need getting your LED product blinking and glowing.
Additionally, we will be running a special deal on our own site! We aren't big enough to give away lots of stuff, but we can help complete your project by giving away some free accessories. So here's the deal:
Starts: 12:00am Pacific time (midnight) Thursday, January 13th
Submitted by Garrett on Wed, 01/12/2011 - 16:01.
A friend was having birthday party late yesterday, to coincide with viewing the total lunar eclipse. That evening I realized there was quite a lot of cloud cover, and it was cold outside. I decided to build a moon simulator so that we could keep an eye on the eclipse regardless of the weather.
Submitted by Garrett on Tue, 12/21/2010 - 18:09.
We got our Christmas project done a bit later than usual this year, but here it is. An eight-foot wooden triangle filled with 51 MegaBrite RGB LED modules, controlled by an Arduino. As our projects always do...this also lights the houses across the street pretty well, running about 75 watts of LEDs maximum.
Unfortunately didn't take photos during construction, but it's nothing too difficult. Three 1x4 planks fastened at the corners with metal brackets, 3/4 square dowel cross beams, and lots of zip ties. The MegaBrites are daisy chained from a bottom corner up to the top in a zig-zag pattern. Power is connected every 7 or 8 modules, to a 7.5V 20A Meanwell supply from Jameco. For rain protection and a little diffusion, the whole thing is wrapped in a 2mil plastic drop cloth.
Submitted by Garrett on Sat, 12/18/2010 - 22:51.
We've been busy developing new products and dealing with a few supply problems, so it's been a while since the last project roundup post. There have been almost too many to list, though we will get to them eventually. For now, here are two high-profile lighting projects that have involved our technology.
OK GO Sparkle SuitsThe always popular band OK GO recently released another video that is becoming an internet sensation; about 125,000 view on YouTube since it was posted five days ago. The band led a street parade through Los Angeles, using a GPS app to spell OK GO using their route. The parade started in daylight and continued into the night, and members of the parade were encouraged to decorate their clothing and instruments with anything that would light up.
Submitted by Garrett on Fri, 12/17/2010 - 01:34.
It was recently brought to our attention that the current production batch of OctoBrite DEFILIPPI was manufactured with a faulty component. The 78L05 "regulator" (circled below) is NOT behaving like a regulator and will in fact allow overvoltage into the TLC5947 chip, causing failure. We had not received any word of OctoBrite DEFILIPPI failing until now, we think due to the fact that most OctoBrite users have been primarily testing with lower LED voltages. OctoBrites manufactured before June (with regulator oriented the opposite direction) are not affected by this issue.
We are not sure what this part actually is, but we believe it is mismarked or counterfeit. It seems hard to believe that someone would counterfeit such a cheap part, but there's no other explanation that makes sense; our assembler arrived at the same conclusion.
If you currently own one of these devices, please stop using the device if it hasn't been damaged yet. The regulator must be replaced with a working 78L05 SOT-223 regulator immediately. There are three options: Read more»
Submitted by Garrett on Mon, 11/08/2010 - 23:18.
Was running out of ideas for a Halloween costume, and fell back on the old standby "Mad Scientist". I mean, I have all the stuff already :) The sad part is for the past couple years I've spent so much time working on a really awesome costume, I didn't actually go anywhere! Two great robot costumes, never to be seen...one even had an Arduino-powered voice changer. *Maybe* this year will be different, assuming I don't think of some last minute enhancement that takes another week.
So I had the lab coat and magnet already. The idea was to hang out next to the line for the Insane Clown Posse when they had a concert in town, around the time of the whole "Miracles" meme. I built the giant magnet out of two layers of 2" styrofoam insulation panel from Home Depot. Did not have a hot wire foam cutter, so I made one by running about 20 amps through a piece of 28 gauge magnet wire.
So I wanted to use the magnet for the mad scientist costume this weekend, but thought it needed a little more pizazz. Also, some bracing across the ends so it wouldn't get crushed and broken. A piece of clear acrylic seemed like a good idea. Then, I realized that the acrylic could have more than just a structural function. I called up TechShop and reserved some laser time, and etched fractal lightning patterns on three panels.
Submitted by Garrett on Sat, 10/30/2010 - 00:57.
It's been a while since I did this! Our awesome customers keep posting videos and sending us links to their projects using macetech products. If you made something cool with ShiftBrites or other macetech products, by all means let us know! We'll be tweeting links to new projects we discover, and occasionally make a roundup post like this. Later on we'll make a gallery page for easy navigation to all the cool project examples out there.
Centipede + EthernetFirst up, our customer Hartmut in Germany put together an Arduino, Ethernet Shield, and Centipede Shield. He developed a straightforward web interface that's served up by the Ethernet Shield, and allows monitoring 32 digital inputs and controlling 32 digital outputs over the web! Right now it's just a proof-of-concept, but can be easily repurposed for home automation, remote machinery monitoring and control, or any number of web-driven applications that need to talk to the real world. Hartmut's provided lots of details and source code; most of the article is in German but survives pretty well through Google Translate. Read more»
Submitted by Garrett on Tue, 10/26/2010 - 00:02.
It's been two weeks since the World Maker Faire in New York City, but I did want to write up our pilgrimage sometime. A lot of our work happens on the weekend, so the article's been delayed while we catch up.
Jason and I were pretty excited to hear about the new Maker Faire debut in New York. Many of the well-known makers and hackers are located on the east coast, so a New York Maker Faire seems like a smart move. The World's Fair grounds are a perfect venue...San Mateo is pretty nice, but the architecture is nonexistent and there isn't a real rocket looming in the background. Okay, there was a rocket there last year, but it mainly goes to Burning Man, not outer space.
We hunted for tickets and landed an awesome deal. Initially Virgin America wanted $860 but a couple days later it was down to $475. Chase somehow read our minds and sent a coupon for a 20% discount on Virgin America if we used the company card. So we got two round trip, nonstop tickets for about $400.
The next order of business was to find something cool to bring to the Faire. We were not going to run a booth, so it had to be something small. Wearable electronics! I installed LEDs on our lab coats.
Submitted by Garrett on Sun, 10/10/2010 - 22:13.
Syyn Labs, a group of artists and engineers known for their large scale interactive sculptures and art installations (including OK GO's music video for "This Too Shall Pass"), participated in the Santa Monica GLOW festival on September 25th, 2010. Their project for GLOW was called the DNA Sequencer and included 512 RGB LEDs arranged in a double helix within a 100-foot-long trellis.
Submitted by Garrett on Mon, 10/04/2010 - 01:13.