Category Archives: Arduino

HexaDomes Part II

So a small interruption to the build when I started ‘Making Sunshine’ but now, I’m back on track.  I did the lighting test, but never took pictures…. but it looked good with no gaps in light coverage.  Now that I have the spacing worked out I laid out my design and cut it on FamiLAB’s CNC router table.


Once off the table I used a little sandpaper on the edges as the router left some lines.  Got several comments about TIE fighters while working on this.


Next I put on a coat of paint and sanded smooth.  I repeated this twice and then after a final coat of flat while I sanded with 600 grit.  This gave a nice smooth non reflective surface that would glow rather than have a shiny reflective surface.


I cut sever different holes for mounting, one set, 19 inches apart and the other set 16 inches apart.  The first set of holes were so I could hang it from a server rack.  The second set are for when I hang this on the living room wall.

But before I put it all together I’ve got 117 NeoPixels to cut


and some wire


and solder back together.


Then its just a matter of attaching the lights to the individual standoffs



Until I finally have a pile of them


well, 702 solder joint later I can start assembly.




Now to solder the  wires on the back. Wait, why is nothing lit up? Okay, some bad wiring., but now I’m only getting partial lighting


Arghh!  NeoPixels are static sensitive and I ended up blowing out about 12.  Funny thing, the blown ones worked but didn’t transmit to the next (somewhat confusing). That’s why I’m wearing this very fashionable anti-static strap 😉

e-static strap

okay so here are some shots of the backing



Now it’s time to attach the styrene facing.  What’s weird is how much this looks like a rendered picture.


When I decided to take this to Maker Faire Orlando, I was filling out the forms and got to thinking no matter how cool this looks, it wouldn’t be fun.  So decided to make it interactive and  worked with fellow Familab member Iggy coming up with an interactive art project.  Originally I wanted to make games, but by the time we got everything together there just wasn’t time.  After a failed attempt to make Nintendo pistols work I decided to go with Wii-nunchucks. I also wanted to give the person the ability to select the color they were going to use.  So off the Arduino Mega I attached two Wii-nunchucks, 2 neopixel stripts, 6 slide resistors and two Wii-nunchucks.

To host all these parts I put together two ‘control stations’. I started with some acrylic cutting a place for the 3 slide resistors and a panel for the display light. Warning: When paper backed acrylic gets old the glue holding breaks down and makes it difficult to remove, so I only removed the half on the visible side 🙂


Here I have it sitting on the heater we use for bending acrylic.  That contraption of wood is the jig that I created to bend the acrylic.  Learned several lessons on this bend.  If you put in individual ribs when you bend the acrylic over them you get little dips in your acrylic.  Next time I’ll build a better jig.


I didn’t take to many pictures of this process and I was running short on time, but here is a picture of the finished faceplate with the slide resistors installed.


To keep i modular I used RJ45 Jacks to attach everything together using a standard Quad RJ45 outlet in the back of the power station


And final assembly


I’m a hardware and electronics guy, with a dash of programming. When I was 1 week out from Maker Faire I was still not finished and had not even started on the programming.  I started talking to Iggy, he offered to help and ended up doing all the programming. We went back and forth on the way it would work tossing different ideas out when one of us came up with something unique and in the end we ended up with this.

Before we go too much further, I never saw a way to use two Wii-nunchucks on the same arduino.  Iggy figured that out and here’s a link to his block where he discusses it.

Then it was off to Maker Fair Orlando where kids played


grand kids played with their grandmother


A robot played


and I finally got to play it with my son.



While he saw the different parts and light test patterns, all the final construction and programming was at my hackerspace, so when he arrived at the Maker Faire he finally got to see what it was all about.

Special thanks to Iggy for making this possible!



Beware! There Be Monsters Here!

This year I decided to do something special for Halloween and with a little inspiration from a trip to the Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire, I decided to make a monster in a box.

MIB 01

So first off a simple box. Some rough cut lumber and a few nails later (yeah it’s never that easy).  This box was rather large as I had planned to have some other effects, but time ran short.  I’ll save the tentacle monster for next year

MIB 02

Next up was a way to lift the lid and bang it a bit randomly. The teeth are random in start time and height, with one exception.   The extra large turn is to give the eyes a chance to peek out. Of course there’s always were a few snags… over tightened the shaft coupler and cracked the PLA wheel mount.  Rebuilt in ABS and off we go.

MIB 03

Here is a picture of the lid raising mechanism fully assembled.  This geared motor is running at 5 rpm

 MIB 04

And another shot of the box, with the roller which rides along the ‘saw-blade’ wheel.  Turns out the small riser I had to bump the wheel sensor was off a bit, so in the good tradition of FamiLAB I patched it with some blue tape.

MIB 06

The lighted eyes were on loan so I couldn’t hack the wires. To get them to light up at the correct time I needed to switch the power on and off via the Arduino.  I took an extension cord and hacked it adding in a relay and some leads that go off to the Arduino. Between the relay and the Arduino I have an L293D to handle the extra voltage for the relay and protect the Arduino.

MIB 08

There were a lot of different effects that I wanted.  I ended up using almost every single available pin on the Arduino.

1. Fog Machine on/off
2. The ‘sawblade’ wheel
3. A switch for the wheel (used for timing)
4. Eyeball lights
5. PIR Motion Sensor
6. WaveShield

MIB 05

Stuff it all in the box, and then….

 MIB 07


Got to watch the PIR sensors, they are crazy sensitive.  The neighbor walking his dog on the other side of the street set it off. Hilarity ensued.