LED Matrix Handbag 2.0 – How To

Bag PicturesMy previous post describes a handbag containing a Twitter-connected LED matrix.  The project was somewhat complicated to assemble – particularly the handbag sewing and construction.  This post describes a simpler and more practical way to incorporate an LED matrix into a handbag.  I’ve made several different versions of this project now, involving different styles of handbag.  The version described here produces a vinyl tote bag with contrasting accent fabric as seen above.

Video demonstration of the handbag below:

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Entering the IoT with CheerLights and Adafruit Huzzah

CheerLights with Huzzah showing blue.
CheerLights with Huzzah showing blue.

It’s hard to avoid the Internet of Things (IoT) these days.  I thought I’d join the trend by starting simply.  I was inspired by the CheerLights project, which uses a Twitter feed to synchronize the color of lights around the world.  I first saw it through a link to an implementation by Dr. Lucy Rogers, who made a color-changing Christmas tree to adorn the cast on her arm.

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EtchABot Part 2: Vector and Raster Images

This post describes how to draw vector and raster images on an Etch a Sketch with EtchABot.  As described previously, EtchABot converts an Etch A Sketch to an versatile, easy-build CNC drawing machine.

In image drawing mode, EtchABot receives instructions through the Arduino serial port.  When connected to a computer running software that converts images to a series of drawing commands, EtchABot can reproduce vector (SVG) or raster images.

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A Tribute to Mechanized Etch A Sketches on the Internet

Motorized Etch A Sketch from http://www.paleotechnologist.net/?p=3625
Motorized Etch A Sketch from paleotechnologist.net

In working on my latest project, a CNC Etch A Sketch, I’ve come across a LOT of similar projects online.  There is obviously something very appealing about taking a childhood toy and giving it electronic controls.

Before adding my own version of this project to the canon, I would like to recognize and thank the large number of people who have so generously shared their knowledge and projects.  So, this post is a listing of mechanical Etch A Sketches I’ve found online.   If you know of a project that you don’t see here but would like to include, please email it to me, and I’ll add it to the list.

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EtchABot: a CNC Etch A Sketch

The EtchABot - a CNC Etch A Sketch
EtchABot – a CNC Etch A Sketch

EtchABot turns your Etch A Sketch into a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) drawing machine.  I’m really excited about this project because of its versatility and its well balanced combination of entertaining and educational aspects.  It’s always fun to hack a toy to do something above and beyond its original intent, and if you build the EtchABot and run the example Arduino sketches, you can make:

EtchABot Gallery

There is an EtchABot Arduino library, so it’s also easy to program it with your own ideas.

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3D Printed No-Carve Pumpkin Decorations for Halloween

3D printed goggles make the minion.
3D printed goggles make the minion.

I love Halloween for its spooky and amusing decorations and am always amazed by the creativity people put into making jack-o-lanterns.  However, it’s frustrating to put hours of creative work into carving a pumpkin, just to have it rot after only a few days.  The simplest solution is no-carve pumpkin decorating.  You can find articles on painted and embellished pumpkins online, however, I haven’t seen any that explore the possibilities that a 3D printer adds.  So, I thought I’d bring a little high-tech to my arts-and-crafts projects.

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TinyScreen Case with Buttons

3D Printed necklace case with buttons for TinyScreen
3D Printed necklace case with buttons for TinyScreen

I just updated the TinyScreen case I’d 3D printed for my new TinyScreen and TinyDuino.  The new version of the case has protruding buttons to help access the two very small buttons built into each side of the TinyScreen.  I also wrote a new Arduino sketch to demonstrate the button functionality.  The sketch displays a 3d rotating wireframe shape, which changes when the buttons are pushed.

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New IMU Library for Arduino- RTIMULib

Obtaining orientation angles can be a challenge! RTIMULib may make things easier.
Obtaining orientation angles can be a challenge. RTIMULib may make things easier.

My blog traffic shows that a lot of the visitors are looking for information on IMUs (Inertial Measurement Units) like the MPU-6050.  Understanding how to use IMUs and access the data they provide can be daunting.  However, I just came across a new Arduino library for getting IMU data that looks like it will make things simpler.  Written by a company named Richards-Tech, the library is called RTIMULib, and can be found at https://github.com/richards-tech/RTIMULib-Arduino.

What’s incredibly awesome, and more or less unique about this library is that it comes with well-documented sample programs.

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TinyScreen and TinyDuino

TinyScreen displays the Mandelbrot set.
TinyScreen displays the Mandelbrot set.

A few months ago, I signed up for a Kickstarter for TinyScreen – a minuscule 96×64 pixel screen run by a similarly diminutive TinyDuino, an Arduino clone that is smaller than a quarter.  My parts arrived yesterday, and I jumped right into playing with them.

I had ordered the video game package which came with a TinyDuino, a TinyScreen, a TinyShield Joystick, a TinyShield USB (for connecting to the computer with a micro USB cable), and a 140 mAh LiPo battery that plugs directly into the TinyDuino.

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Making MeArm

Fully built MeArm
Fully built MeArm with custom controller.

MeArm is an open-source robotic arm kit by Benjamin Gray and Jack Howard.  They published design files for their robot on Thingiverse and a set of instructions on Instructables.  You can 3D print or lasercut the parts, or you can order them as a kit which includes all servos and screws from Adafruit.  If you create the parts yourself, you’ll need to purchase four 9g servos and assorted lenghts of M3 screws to complete the assembly.

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