Category Archives: Soldering

Nixie Tube Clock

Design files for this project can be found here

For the longest time now, I’ve wanted to build myself a Nixie tube clock completely from scratch. Building one isn’t easy though given the various barriers to entry: the high cost of Nixie tubes ($10-$50 each), high voltages for driving the tubes (~170V), designing the PCB, the desire for an nice enclosure that isn’t made out of laser cut acrylic.. All together, it meant that I didn’t have the time and resources to put towards this project until now.

Since I anticipate that I’ll be actively working on this project over the next 8-12 months, this post will not have the usual changelog at the top. Instead, I’ll be slowly appending my progress to this post along with any useful info I find.

Continue reading Nixie Tube Clock

3D Printed Precision Paste Dispenser

Design files for this project can be found here
3/16/2015 – Revision C update
6/25/2015 – Download link for my custom software added

Here is a design for a precision paste dispenser that I’ve been working on for the last few months. The goal of this project was to build a solder paste dispenser with a focus on consistent performance, 3D printable design, and minimal use of extraneous parts. While other designs exist (see here, here, here, here, or here), none of the existing designs are capable of low-volume paste dispensing at a consistency required for surface mount parts. These existing implementations are inherently limited by their design: they all use basic pneumatic or belt driven systems that simply don’t offer enough control. Commercial solutions certainly exist (see the Nordson’s EFD series, Fisnar’s PDV-1000 and RV5000DPM, IntelliSpense’s Auger Valve system, Techcon System’s TS7000, and Nordson ASYMTEK Spectrum II) but they usually run well into thousands of dollars ($5k+) for a basic system.

Continue reading 3D Printed Precision Paste Dispenser

NeoPixel Clock

The latest code base for this project can be found here

Here’s a quick weekend project that I did a week or so back. I decided to put together a standalone wall clock using Adafruit’s 60 NeoPixel ring, a ChronoDot real-time clock (RTC), TSL2561 light sensor, and a PIC12F1840 to tie everything together. The hardware was pretty straightforward, but the interesting part about this project was really with the one-wire protocol used to control the NeoPixels.

Continue reading NeoPixel Clock

Interactive Companion Cube

The latest code base for this project can be found here
Video and pictures are at the bottom of the post!

So I wanted to give a friend the 3D printed companion cube as a birthday gift, but I figured that just the cube by itself would be rather boring. Instead, why not add some audio functionality to the cube to make it a bit more impressive? And so I did. As I came up with this project idea only three weeks before the deadline, I was in a bit of a rush to get things working. As such, designing and ordering a custom PCB was out of the question. Instead of using a custom PCB, I came up with a stacking design using Adafruit’s perma-protoboards that would fit inside of the cube’s frame while still allowing enough real estate for all the components. As the frame was slightly smaller than the protoboards, I had to file the edges of the protoboards down a bit to get them to fit. The upside to this design was that I was able to achieve an extremely snug fit that should be pretty resistant to drops.

Continue reading Interactive Companion Cube

RGB LED Cube Controller

The latest code base for the controllers can be found here

12/28/2013 – Added Revision A Section
1/20/2014 – Added Revision A PCBs
1/26/2014 – Added Revision B Design
2/28/2014 – Populated Revision B Boards

As I had to take the LED cube home for a few days to fix a few things, I figured that I might as well extend its functionality. As such, I decided to add gaming functionality to the cube! To do so, I first had to design a controller to provide some way to interact with the cube. Originally I had hoped that someone from the AMP lab would take on this project, but no one seemed interested to do so (probably because it was finals week). Perhaps they would be more interested in programming games for the cube?

The controllers themselves should be pretty simple: a few buttons for inputs and some LEDs for things such as score indications. As such, it should be a relatively quick project. Perhaps I could put some sensors on the board as well, allowing for some gesture based control.

Continue reading RGB LED Cube Controller