Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas 80's style!

I loved Kings Quest & Space Quest as a kid. Great old school games!

You can download updated versions of these old school games here.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Rudolph the Red (555 Timer based LED) Nosed Reindeer

It is Sat. afternoon, mom is in Kentucky visiting family and I have the girls....... what should we do? A 555 timer based Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer of course!

I grabbed some scrap double sided PCB material and cut out a cookie cutter like reindeer shape. Then I had my 4-year old daughter sand the edges and buff the surface with some steel wool.

We then soldered the 1Hz Astable 555-Timer circuit dead bug style (with a lot of Daddy supervision). My girls were pretty pumped to see the nose blink when we turned on the power supply for the first time.
I then soldered on a 9V battery clip, so the battery acts as the stand.

We had a fun afternoon without mommy.... maybe my nerdyness will rub off on them and I'll have two very pretty engineer daughters!

ITead Studio Surprise Xmas Gift

A couple weeks ago I got an email from ITead Studio saying since I signed up to follow them on Twitter they were going to send me a free Mystery Xmas gift.... pretty cool huh!

Just this past week I received a small envelope from ITead Studio. Inside was a coupon for 5% off my next order, a business card, 5 prototyping jumper wires, and a PCB showing ITead's capabilities.

I thought this was a pretty cool way to advertise. I think I'll have to give them a try with my next project pcb. Thanks ITead for the gift!

Happy Holidays - XY Scope Fun!

Last week I saw a neat post from Johngineer where he took an Arduino and a couple RC filters and made a Xmas Tree on his scope.
I thought this would be a fun project to replicate with my 2 and 4 year old daughters, but I wanted to make a small tweak and display a picture of Frosty the Snowman. My two year old discovered the old Frosty the Snowman cartoons this year and is constantly asking to "watch a frosty".

I downloaded John's Arduino sketch and took a look at it to see what I'd have to do to change the picture displayed on the scope. His code is very well laid out and the picture is defined by the number of points and the X Y coordinates stored as two arrays.

Now how do I draw a picture of a snowman and get X Y coordinates out of it? I tried GIMP and Paint, but ended up using Scilab...... yes a fancy math program to draw a snowman! The nice thing about Scilab is you can plot pictures using the same X & Y arrays needed for the Arduino sketch.

I could have gotten all fancy and used sin & cos equations to get a nice smooth circle, but a line segment circle gets the job done too, and is equally impressive to a two year old :)

Once I got the X Y coordinates figured out I cut and paste them in to John's sketch and loaded it into my ProtoStack Arduino Clone from a previous post.
Here is John's sketch with my added X1 & Y1 coordinates for the snowman pic. link

We grabbed a bread board and I let my 4 year old insert the 10K Ohm and 0.1uF caps and hook up the scope probes.
With a few tweaks to the scope's settings we got a nice picture of Frosty the Snowman.

My daughters had fun making him taller and shorter and skinny and fat all with a few button presses. Thanks John for the great idea; my girls and I had a lot of fun!