6x6x6 LED Array

I just finished my latest project, but I’m still in the process of writing up the backlog of older projects we’ve done.   I’m too happy with this project and too impatient not to share it right away, so I promise a write-up later.  In the meantime, please enjoy this video of my 6x6x6 LED Cube, powered by an Arduino Uno.

Programmable LED Sweatshirt

Programmable LED Sweatshirt
Programmable LED Sweatshirt (the ‘dots’ are the lit-up LEDs)

I discovered e-textiles this past fall.  The Arduino LilyPad  is a micro controller designed to be included in clothing and other projects using soft circuits.  There are some interesting LilyPad projects online, such as Leah Buchleys turn signal jacket,  this jacket with an LED array, and this LED Matrix quilt by Katie Dektar.  Reading about these projects inspired me to try one myself.  I know the basics of sewing, so I figured that part wouldn’t be too bad, and I was interesting in learning more about micro controllers like the LilyPad.

Since my FIRST LEGO Leauge (FLL) team (I hope to write about FLL in a different post) had an upcoming tournament, I decided to make a light-up sweatshirt with our team’s logo.  I didn’t document the construction process at the time, so there are no photographs of the work in progress, however the project is simple enough that you can easily see how it works by viewing the final result.

The step-by-step process and results of this project are below:

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Jr. FLL Expo at Legoland

Today was a big day for the members of our two Jr. FLL teams, the Super Sonic Seniors and the Ultimate Elderlies.  The coaches and kids, along with family and friends, hopped into cars, and drove from Los Angeles to Carlsbad, CA for the largest Jr. FLL Expo in the world.  Over 100 Jr. FLL teams will attend one of four Expo sessions this weekend in which they share their research projects and posters with other teams and judges from the Legoland staff.

The Super Sonic Seniors posing, sort of, in front of their poster and LEGO model at the Jr. FLL Expo.
The Super Sonic Seniors posing, sort of, in front of their poster and LEGO model at the Jr. FLL Expo.

As I mentioned in a previous post, this year’s Jr. FLL research theme is “Super Seniors”, involving an interview with a senior citizen, and research into some change that the senior noticed in her lifetime.  The Super Sonic Seniors put together a poster detailing the history and development of television and built a model of a television containing a rotating stage with two scenes.  Placing the TV “remote” in front of a distance sensor in the model triggers the rotation of the stage, which changes the content and “channel” being shown on the television.  The Ultimate Elderlies researched the evolution of long distance communication, doing detailed research on the Pony Express, the telegraph, cell phones and emails as successive improvements in mankind’s ability to communicate.  Their LEGO model contained Lego renditions of each of these modes of communication, including a motor-driven telegraph that made a very realistic clicking sound, and a scene of a LEGO driver using his cell phone in a car, only to be pulled over by a policeman.

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Jr. FLL – Super Seniors rock!

Jr. FLL (Junior FIRST LEGO League) is a terrific organization designed to introduce kids ages 6 to 9 to the concepts of basic engineering, scientific research and teamwork, among other valuable skills. This is my second year in a row coaching my youngest child’s Jr. FLL team, (actually, a friend and I are co-coaching two teams together) and we’re working hard, learning a lot, and truly enjoying the process.

Our Team T-shirt Designs
Our Jr. FLL Team T-shirts. It’s important to have cool shirts to wear to the Expo. Drawings were done by team members

Each year, the Jr. FLL organization promotes a different scientific theme. This year’s is “Super Seniors”. Our two teams, each consisting of six third graders,  named themselves “Super Sonic Seniors” and “Ultimate Elderlies”.  This year’s Jr. FLL project requires each team to find and interview a “senior partner” over the age of 60 about changes the senior has experienced in his lifetime. The team then chooses one of the topics they discussed, researches it, and prepares a poster board on what they have learned and builds a motorized LEGO model related to their research topic.

The “Super Sonic Seniors” chose to research changes in television. We learned a lot about television technology and content in the years since its inception.  Did you know that the first working television system was mechanical and developed in the late 1800’s?  In addition to their research,  the team members created a LEGO model of a television that “changes channels” by rotating a platform with two different scenes when you press a button on the “remote”.

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